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Blog measurement - invest in people first (but tech too)

While there's a shortage of models and tools to measure / monitor blogs at the moment, there are even fewer people who can mesh an understanding of how social media works with what matters to a professional communicator. PR, advertising and media companies should invest in developing analysts first and technology second, I think.

Companies like Onalytica and Market Sentinel are closest to "making meaning" (as Guy Kawasaki would say) so far, and a good few marketing communications companies (Bell Pottinger Group among them) have been working on their own approaches and models.

I  picked up on a good piece by Andy Lark (via Media Orchard) which discusses the clear difference between monitoring and measurement capabilities at the moment. Andy says "I can monitor what I need to monitor" but awaits meaningful measurement techniques / tools that are "non-rules based".

As I say, for me, the challenge with looking at blogs from the point of view of an organisation or brand is about "making meaning". Numbers are only the beginning of that process - they need to be turned into pictures or stories for most people to make sense of them. Tables of stats, graphs and pages of text close down the thinking of everyone except experts really quickly - they are useless once they leave the desk of an experienced analyst.

Don't wait too long for a machine or a service that can make meaning for you. Whether you're a PR firm, media buyers or in advertising need to find experts or train people who can then make enough meaning for you to make decisions about what your strategy for social media should be - and soon.
: : BTW, this BBC article is referenced in Mr Lark's and a good few others' posts over the last week too. Some useful thoughts here.

: : : Oh yeah, and just be clear, investing in people doesn't let you off the hook when it comes to investing in technology. As the CEO of my alma mater Tim Dyson says, PR firms need to take a leaf out of the advertising book, and embrace the market opportunities that new technologies present (see PR needs to invest in playtime and Niall Cook's launch presages the age of PR tech R&D).

If you don't those friendly advertising and media-buying guys will happily come and do it for you...

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