Four Reasons Community Managers Need to Know Paid Media

The convergence of social media and paid media means that Community Managers must add another string to their ever-growing bow.

Much in the way that using a tool like Radian6, Sysomos or Netbase to understand how a community behaves has become an essential skill, Account Executives right through to Directors, need to know what Paid Media can bring to a communications activity and how to execute.

The emergence of paid media as a communication tool in social media has meant that advertising budgets are being pushed more to the social media realm; recent GroupM research has suggested that this year more than 50% of ad spend will now be put towards digital advertising.

1. Organic reach is dying
The days of thousands and thousands of likes on Facebook posts are over. Facebook have all but ensured that if you want your content to reach the large fanbase you’ve spent the last five years building up, you will need to pay for the pleasure.

It’s easy to hypothesise that Twitter or Instagram will be the next platform to begin throttling organic reach – they need to because…

2. Platforms need to monetise to survive
Getting paid to get people in front of your content is one of the simplest ways to make a quick buck. But it is essential; without platforms there are fewer ways to connect with the switched generation and if the shareholders and investors don’t see a return, they’ll pull the plug.

People do not want to be bombarded by adverts; that means platforms need to make the content they *can* publish work harder.

3.If you don’t do it, someone else will
The landgrab for paid media ownership has been ever-shifting; whether it’s media, advertising, marketing, PR, social media or digital agencies, everyone sees the value that Paid media can bring.

To be able to run and maintain a paid campaign must be a requisite for anyone hoping to succeed in the digital communication space. If you’re unable to do it, someone else will and that means less revenue for your agency and could mean you’re overlooked for that big role you want.

As someone who has managed many different communities over the last eight years, I don’t want to sound the death knell for Community Management, but the reality is that many big brands are pulling that role in-house to dedicated teams. That leaves agency teams with fewer opportunities and a big question: what do we do if one of our main revenue drivers dries up? Become Paid media experts, could be one of the potential answers.

4. You learn about measurement *really* quickly
Social media is converging with direct marketing; what direct marketing is really good at is measuring success.

If you can learn the metrics that make paid media accountable, you’ll learn a valuable analysis skill that can be transferred into different roles and applied across different tasks.

If you are a Community Manager and don’t know how to publish a dark post on Facebook, letalone publish a promoted tweet, now is your time to learn and develop an expertise that will take you out of social media and into marketing.

If you are currently working in the social media space and do not have responsibility for Paid Media on your channels, go and claim it.

How To Measure A Blog

As the way we consume media changes, so too do the platforms and thus, so must the way we measure the success of a PR campaign as we try to prove the ROI of whatever activity it is we are undertaking.

Blogs provide a useful conversation channel for brands to communicate with their audience which means that many marketing managers ask that their hired PR agency engages with bloggers to get their messages and product across.

Engagement is my favourite bit of this job. I love it. There is nothing more satisfying than striking up a conversation with someone you’ve never met and being able to give them something that means they can pull together a blog post that they know will give their readers a really good experience.

How then, can we justify the time, money and results of blogger outreach to a client?

You cannot put a single figure on the relevance/importance/size/influence of a blog. In essence, you cannot rate a blog, you cannot give it a score. It is folly to try and do so as we are trying to introduce a faux figure to an already flawed way of measuring success: the Ad Value Equivalent.

The AVE is an old PR myth started by someone, somewhere, to prove the value of PR against advertising. It is essentially any number between 2 and 3, multiplied by the physical size of the coverage: so if a newspaper publishes a feature which measures 10cm x 10cm and has assigned an advertising rate to that space, you times that by your ficticious number and that gives you an AVE.

The challenge we have in the digital sphere is that this number does not work. It does not work because you can’t tell how many eyeballs will have landed on the blog post mentioning your client, and because there are very rarely advertising rates on blogs.

So there are several different things you can consider when attempting to show the worth of your outreach. You can try and pull in numbers from data sources such as Technorati (broken), Yahoo (inaccurate) or Alexa (doesn’t meaure the size of a blog unless it has been pre-registered) to demonstrate the blog’s size/authority/influence etc.

This is applying a 20th century model to a 21st century problem.

We need to establish what we are measuring – is it the blog’s size, engagement or influence? Are you aiming to find the most influential blog overall or within a particular niche?

Again, to get a number, why not look at physical measurable inbound links using Google blog search, the amount of comments per post the blog usually gets, the number of retweets it gets, the frequency of posts.

Then why not put these into a mix which includes your client’s inputs, key messages, images, quotes or outbound links.

Then you can get an idea of what the relevance of a blog is – it must be relative to other blogs in its niche. You could apply an Adage 150-esque methodolgy to rank them in order of significance.

What’s great is that this is not an exact science – just like measuring the impace of a conversation. What value can you place on a conversation in Sainsbury’s with an assistant when you can’t find the cookies? You’ll spend £1 on the cookies so you’re at a loss, but then you get to east the cookies, what’s the value of that? You’ll feel happy – rate that on a scale of 1-10. How would you do that? By comparing it against another time you felt happy.

I may have rambled a touch, so please feel free to chip in with your thoughts, but to answer the original question: you cannot “measure” a blog with a fixed figure. But what you can judge is it’s place relative to other blogs within its niche.

UPDATE: I should point out that I chose a particularly incendiary post title on purpose to try and put into perspective the proposterousness of the situation we find ourselves in :-)