Social Media Release (SMR): Metrics Anyone?

Social Media Releases: An Introduction
There has been ongoing coverage regarding Social Media Releases (also known as “Social Media Press Releases” or “New Media Releases”) and with much debate over its merits and even more existential questions of why press releases even still exist.

Stowe Boy gives a rough (and somewhat cynical) description of SMR and asks one of the common question critics ask about SMR:

For those who have missed the idea, a social media press release is supposed to be a webbish/bloggish version of old timey press releases. These will incorporate elements of the now commonplance blog motif: links, tags, comments, and trackbacks, for example.

This all begs the question (which I raised early on in the evening): Why not just use blogs? Why do we need these so-called “social” press releases?

Brian Solis, a SMR supporter, goes further and reminds us of the qualitative goals of SMR:

The IDEA is to strip out all of the bullshit and hype from traditional mechanical, and useless press releases and rebuild it as a focused compilation of relevant facts, links, media and a subscription feed to help readers write, tell, and share a story their way (without having to sort through a sea of crap to find out what’s real, what’s canned, and what’s important.) This is what a good release should be anyway, regardless of trends and titles. Basically it’s the press release redux. It takes out what’s wrong with press releases and modernizes them into a usable format for journalists, bloggers, and individuals.

See an example of an Edelman Social Media Release in action here.

Todd Defren, principal at SHIFT Communications, was an early proponent (early/mid 2006) of the Social Media Release, followed quickly by Edelman in late 2006 with the release of StoryCrafter (a CMS for making SMRs). Chris Heuer, Brian Solis and others have been promoting a more open approach to Social Media Releases, including the use of the microformat hRelease.

Where’s the Metrics to Prove/Disprove SMR?
What I find curious about the whole debate over the merits of SMR is the lack of discussions regarding any data: Let’s Gather Some Engagement Metrics.

  • How many people actually add a Social Media Release to Del.icio.us? Or Digg it?
  • How many people clicked on the SMR Pictures or Media Section?
  • How many people left comments on comment-enabled SMR?
  • What does Technorati/Google tells us regarding track/backlinks for SMR? Are the numbers any different than the average “Old School” Press Release?

These are just the few metrics that should be readily available to any SMR ever released. Let’s see how much of the “social” aspects of SMR are being used by people.

As for qualitative aspect of SMR that Brian Solis has described, this is difficult to measure and indeed an aspect that can be applied to traditional Press Releases as well (as he has said himself). We can’t measure that, but if we find no one is using the new features of SMR (Del.icio.us, Media Links, Comments etc), this may cast some doubt over its effectiveness over traditional Press Releases.

Conclusion
Of course, the cynics will look at SMR as simply a Press Release with “Social Media Optimization” or simply “a bloggish Press Release”. But, I believe that SMR is a required evolution of the traditional Press Releases – for it to remain relevant and engaging to the public at large. And for that, Brian Solis, Chris Heuer, Todd Deffren and others are doing a great job in helping promote SMR and advance online PR.

I don’t believe in discounting SMR, but the question that Stowe Boyd asks “Why not just use blogs” is an important question to address. Maybe the answer depends on how the client wants to be positioned: fully open and cutting edge via blogs or partially open and more “traditional” via SMR?

But in any case, intelligent debate can only be done with evidence and data. Other wise, this debate is simply a mental/philosophical exercise. I’m a supporter of SMR, but if we want to debate SMR constructively let’s try to have some data to base our arguments.

So who is going to release the first report on the number of SMR Diggs, Del.icio.us and Trackbacks? Edelman? The SocialMediaRelease.org? Or maybe their critics like Strumpette?

Todd Defren has issued a “Quick Progress Report” on the early successes of SMR. Perhaps we need to follow-up with more data?

Links for Further Reading


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8 responses to “Social Media Release (SMR): Metrics Anyone?”

  1. Todd Defren Avatar

    You raise some good, interesting points, Daniel. I am planning to address Stowe’s question re: “Why not just use blogs” in the near future, as well as the metrics piece.

    For now, here’s something to ponder re: measurement. It’s EARLY in the game. Last I heard, only about 25% of American Internet users even look at blogs (much less use social media tools like T’rati, et al.). Thus it’s too early to make any assumptions about metrics based on Diggs (etc.), don’t you think?

    That doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about metrics, only that it’s too early to draw any substantive conclusions.

  2. Brian Solis Avatar

    Hey Todd, wish you were there!

    We don’t have real metrics for traditional releases, other than the fact, that as bay as they are, 51% of IT pros are making decisions based off of the releases they read in Yahoo News. Southwest solid a $1,000,000 in efares from a click in one press release.

    The bigger discussion is that bloggers aren’t the only target of the hrelease (NMR, SMR, etc.) Yet, they’re selfishly assuming that they are the epicenter of social media, which is as ridiculous as PR expecting to pump SMRs at people and hope for success.

    Their opinion counts, but it isn’t the only driving factor.

    Hell, they’re still getting spammed with crappy releases today from PR people who don’t get it anyway. So, any opportunity to make things better should be welcome with open arms.

    And the truth is, that those of us who get it, will reach people directly in transparent and genuine discussions.

  3. Daniel R Avatar
    Daniel R

    Todd,

    You have a point it maybe early, but I’m curious about how much use will those Digg, Del.icio.us etc links will be used.

    But as Brian has been pointing out that SMRs has been about “strip out all of the bullshit”, maybe we’re looking at the wrong metrics?

    As for Blogs v. SMRs, I think there is a space for both. Jeremy Toeman at LiveDigitally has taken that position and I agree with him:
    http://www.livedigitally.com/2007/01/20/time-to-kill-the-press-release/

    Brian,

    On “We don’t have real metrics for traditional releases”

    DR: True, we have limited data on traditional releases, but with all the attention (right or wrong) on the use of “Add to Del.cio.us”, Trackbacks, and Media (Pictures etc) on SMRs, I think there needs to be metrics on that.

    DR: Although as Todd said, we might be a little early for that and maybe that’s the wrong metrics to look at if SMRs is about “stripping out the bullshit” rather than just “SMOing” a press release.

    On “Yet, they’re selfishly assuming that they are the epicenter of social media”

    DR: Yeah, I hope they’re not – that would be put all the non-bloggers out in the cold. Some bloggers are definitely part of what I called the “OMG WTF Crowd” and some gradients lower than that.

    On “they’re still getting spammed with crappy releases today from PR people who don’t get it anyway. So, any opportunity to make things better should be welcome with open arms.”

    DR: Agreed, that’s why I dont really understand the negativeness of some folks at SMR. SMR wont hurt traditional press releases, it will help it move to the next step.

  4. Thank You for Bringing Attention to the Need for C…

    If anything, this conversation demonstrates why the blogosphere (and most importantly, people) will chew-up and spit-out traditional PR and corporate marketing types – without thinking twice. But thatÂ’s the beauty of this. It forces evolution and imp…

  5. Yolanda Applegate Avatar
    Yolanda Applegate

    As a PR Pro, why should I waste my time drafting and seeking approval for a “social media release” my superiors won’t comprehend and which duplicates the traditional news release on my Web site that anyone can already LINK to? Thank yo.

  6. Daniel R Avatar
    Daniel R

    @ Yolanda:

    In the grand scheme of things, youre right. I like “Social Media Release”, its a good evolutionary step – but the cost-benefit wont be worth it for some.

    For me, I think that if you get buy in from the management, a SMR is a very easy thing to do. SHIFT Communication and Edelman have created easy content-management system templates to churn out SMRs. The technology behind that is very easily duplicated. In fact, I’m surprised there’s not WordPress blog plug-in for that yet. Maybe there is.

    But back to your point, I do not believe that SMR will be a high-priority switch for PR Agencies.

    On the other hand, I do not believe its a resource intensive to make the switch and in the long term, that minor upfront cost to become SMR may pay off. If an agency has the resources, I think they should definitely make the switch soon, rather than later. At least the agency will have that much more experienced and familiar with the social media realm.

    I hope that answers your question.

  7. […] to debate SMR constructively let’s try to have some data to base our arguments. – Daniel RiveongI’m sick and tired of ‘leading blah blah blah’ and ’solutions’ and phony ‘pleased and […]

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