I thought I’d write a short post on why measuring your brand, trend, topic, influencer or anything else in the media, by itself, is to put it mildly – just plain wrong!

First, some background.

I’ve delivered quite a few media research and analytic projects for clients over the years – some big, and some not so big. I’ve even managed agency teams devoted to measuring clients’ media traction.
What did they ALL have in common?

They all assumed that measuring your target subject was all that mattered. That is, “how many mentions (which can be defined in lots of different ways) did X get in the media?” Was it 245 mentions? How about 12,054 tweets? Or 134 Likes? These media “readings” by themselves are just part of the story. So what’s the story?

If you go to any modern media measurement provider, whether it’s Radian6, BurrellesLuce, CyberAlert, Kantar Media, Sysomos, Brandwatch, Sprout Social … and the list is getting longer by the day, you’ll notice that they all focus on tracking a few topics for you. Give me your brands or messages and we’ll give you an amazing dashboard or report showing how often those terms occur in your target media segments.

While you can compare those mentions over time and even add a few competing brands or ancillary topics, your media “landscape” is anything but complete. It’s only a tiny slice of the true media story unfolding around you. Don’t get me wrong. Those terms are critical to your business. They’re your brands, spokespersons, campaigns, key influencers, top competitors, etc. But the media operates on an agenda that is driven by the market and not your list of terms.

Enter TrendTopics.

Our goal is define the overall media landscape so you don’t have to. Instead of coding a few client terms into a sophisticated media monitoring system and charging clients by the number of terms they’re tracking (or “seats” they’re using to track those limited terms), we’ve invested in a team of media domain researchers whose sole objective is to continually define and expand upon a catalog of relevant trends, topics, brands, individuals, organizations, etc. that capture the expanding media dialog around us.

Now this makes more sense if you think about putting a number on how prevalent a topic or trend is in the media. You need to know the size of the media pie and how all those slices are being allocated.

We have a lot of resources on our site devoted to our methodology, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But the media vacuum we’re trying to fill is the one created by limited term definitions. Reporters – in all their new flavors – have a lot to choose from when they ink a story, post or tweet. By capturing as much of the story fabric as possible we can more accurately tell how important a given thread is within that media blanket.

It’s taken quite awhile, but we’re now covering nearly 4,000 trends, brands and influencers, and are adding hundreds every month. Our goal is quite ambitious and we battle scalability every day, but I was growing tired of seeing so many great efforts and technologies omitting a fundamental element of an accurate media assessment effort.

As my partners have told me numerous times, TrendTopics is part of an overall media measurement and management solution. We provide insight and perspective on the media climate while the Radian6’s of the world monitor the local rainfall.

Take our service for a spin. We have an all-you-can-eat price of $1,595 a year that gets you report and dashboard access to monthly TrendSignal data on more than 3,500 topics. Keep your existing term-based, real-time social media tracking tools. But keep in mind that those terms are just a slice (a very important slice) of what’s unfolding across the entire media landscape.

Let me know you think about this approach. We’ve designed our service to be a complement to micro-level media measurement tools.

Paul