ComScore Social Essentials – the value and cost of quantitative evaluation

I’m always on the lookout for reliable and affordable evaluation suppliers that I can recommend to clients to help measure the results of their traditional PR and social media activities. It can sometimes feel like negotiating the right power deal. Do we really need gas, electricity, some eco-friendly bells and whistles, or a combination of them all perhaps? And what kind of payment plan will be best value – over the short or longer term?

So my interest was piqued by the launch of ComScore’s Social Essentials. The new tool is intended to help quantify social media marketing efforts by providing insight into the demographic and behavioral composition of social media audiences, the reach and frequency of social media brand impressions, intelligence on competition, and the ability to tie social media exposure to desired consumer behaviors including brand engagement and spending propensity.

I like that, in the informative accompanying video, Mike Rich, ComScore’s Senior Director Marketing Solutions, clearly confines his claims to qualitative as opposed to quantitative measures, and doesn’t overpromise on the scope. It does what it says on the tin. The limits are clear and easy to understand. We still need to do the quantitative evaluation in some other way – perhaps integrating with another ComScore product or service.

I also like the attempt to show the power of the tool, via the whitepaper produced in collaboration with Facebook: “The Power of Like: How Brands Reach and Influence Fans through Social Marketing,” drawing on research into three globally-recognized brands – Starbucks, Bing, and Southwest Airlines. Specific examples often help to make clearer the meaning of even the most obtuse statistics.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given this is a collaboration with Facebook, a principle finding is that the ubiquitous social network is the dominant site, with an audience of approximately 160 million US visitors each month and accounts for 90% of all time spent on social networking sites. But maybe it is simply true!

As a point of comparison, during the same time period (May 2011), Facebook was also top of the German social networking charts – by a long way – with 35 million unique visitors, according to Google Ad Planner. Recent OnPR research also backs up the pre-eminence of Facebook in the German market.

So, that leads to the question, what will a ComScore Social Essentials program cost? I can’t determine its value, unless I know its cost. That’s perhaps a less clear. A question for ComScore to answer I think.

Ronna PorterOnPR GmbH

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