For professional communicators, understanding the difference between the most common content-measurement terms — social reach, pageviews, sessions, unique visitors, engagement, and conversion rate — is a basic but important piece of knowledge. Whether you’re talking to the C-suite or a reporter, you have to know what these terms mean and which are relevant to highlight.
But how a piece of content is designed and where it is published can change which measurements are relevant in deciding success or failure.
For example, for PRWeek’s 2016 Global Agency Business Report, I wanted to create an easy-to-navigate, user-focused experience, with every piece of content just two to three clicks (or taps) away. Agencies’ global and regional profiles were condensed from as many as four separate pages to one. Our rankings table, parts of which were previously displayed on multiple pages, now lives on a single page that doesn’t need to be reloaded or navigated away from in order to search through all 20 tabs.
A single visit that generated a dozen pageviews in 2015’s Agency Business Report might net us just two or three this year. Extrapolate that out to thousands of visitors, and a simple year-over-year comparison of pageviews starts to look weak to the uneducated eye. But the reduction of raw pageviews was by design. Unique visitors are up. Time-on-page is up. Social sharing is easier than before. From a qualitative standpoint, having to load fewer pages is better UX. Plus, there’s no way to get lost in a maze of pages with no way to navigate back to the landing page.
Speaking at the 2015 PRWeek Conference, angel investor Gary Vaynerchuk said that "[Twitter has] such a fire-hose problem that no one’s consuming anything." When you have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, racking up thousands and thousands of impressions is quite easy. If the conversion rate is low, how valuable are those impressions? And when your tweet speeds by as it’s replaced by a dozen new ones instantly after it’s sent, are "impressions" really impressing on consumers? Probably not.
None of this is to say any one platform is less useful by default. You just need to take into account how each platform actually works, how users are using it, and how any individual piece of content will work on it.
Byron Kittle is web editor at PRWeek.