Measurement Camp (an open source working group) held its meet up as part of an ongoing attempt to work out how to prove the value of social media.

The sessions aim to provide a place for people to discuss different ways of tracking campaigns, while attendees ‘compare tactics, think of ways to improve them and wonder if there will ever be a standard set of metrics against which to judge success by.’

With measurement top on the list for every communications professional, Reputation Online spoke to Ged Carroll of Ruder Finn about his main highlights from the discussions. “I was most interested in what Gile Palmer of Brandwatch had to say about the fact that engagement is primarily revolving around being useful.”

The clear methodology of how to do this – and then, more importantly, respond – was presented as follows; gather data, triage, sort, filter, read, diagnose, assign, respond and then measure (the last stage of this often being the most difficult to implement).

Building a social media campaignThe ‘response’ part was then presented as a series of questions, starting with an outline of business objectives, then expanding into working out who will respond, what the tone of voice be and if the respondent will know where the relevant content is online. Next, an assessment of what happens if a conversation develops, how to link online IDs to customers, how it’s all measured and then the million-dollar question – how to work out ROI?

This very systematic and practical approach to dealing with measurement is reflected in the blend of people attending Measurement Camp meetings. After sitting on a panel at a ‘Measuring Social Media’ event, Will McInnes (co-founder of social media and web design agency Nixon McInnes) decided that as none of the people in the room had definitive answers, that the community should start meeting up to tackle the issue together. In the beginning, sessions were attended by industry pioneers and big thinkers, but they now attract a younger, more pragmatic crowd.

“Measurement Camp has evolved and is now attended by those actively working on live projects. It’s real people, doing real stuff, for real clients,” McInnes said. “One of the challenges of measuring social media is the fact that there are no boundaries. If you work for a brand, and you’ve already been talked about in a different territory, is don’t matter because your boss is only interested in your own. How do we create buzz, when there’s already a website and community out there?”

Caroll added to this by saying that he is seeing; “interesting developments in measurement and monitoring as free and paid for tools improve, taking the measurement load off social media teams and allow them to be more focused on creativity.”

Technology developments have indeed made a vast difference in making social media and online activity more tangible, but tracking behavioral change is still difficult, as McInnes points out. “It’s all very well creating noise or chatter, but does this help to change things in the real world? People may talk about whether they walk to work or drive, but does seeing other people talk in the same way really change the way that people travel?”

Some may say that yes, a recommendation from a peer always resonates, but how do you measure it? Though the group has no set goals or targets, it aims to provide a source of education and support for those trying to answer the same question – can we prove that what we’re doing is working?