The Evolution of Our Data Fixation in Social Media

Six years ago, we were talking about the growth of blogging and MySpace. In 2006, Radian6 was founded by Chris Newton (@cdnewt) and Chris Ramsey (@chrisramsey) Back then monitoring and listening were a novel concept, but they knew that social wasn’t a fluke.

Five years ago, hundreds of millions of people around the world were starting to visit social networking sites each month and many were doing so out of curiosity on a daily basis. Clearly,social networking is not a fad but rather an activity that is being woven into the very fabric of the global Internet.

However, we could have cared less about measuring our engagements…yet. We were all about doing first and thinking second. Case in point Wal-Marting Across America uses a real journalist and real photographer, and sets them up as your average Wal-Mart fans, who travel across America, park their RV at Wal-Mart parking lots and hang and blog.

4 years ago, we were still fixated by the numbers, and the bulk of measurement questions  still consisted of “how many”, but “who and why” are starting to become more of a focus in social.

3 years ago, the numbers bordered on the ridiculous but some trends were starting to take shape.

But underneath that astounding growth trend, was a disturbing stat. One that will do 2 things. First, it freaks people out and then, it spurs people into action.

 

2 years ago, We stopped blowing on the reflection of our social media selves in the mirror and wanted to get serious about measuring social. Consider this blurb from 10 Ways Social Media Will Change In 2010

“Return on investment on social media activities has been challenging to most companies in 2009. Surveys show only 18% of companies say they saw meaningful return on investment from their social media activities while the other 72% report modest, no return or inability to measure the return on their investment in social media. While the definition of ROI is evolving to better fit the world of relationships and networks, the ability to demonstrate ROI in hard numbers — not in followers or fans — will become a baseline business requirement in 2010. Already, both traditional firms and startups are working feverishly to demonstrate they can turn hype into science. But, only those companies who will be able to analyze and predict hard returns on investments will last”

 

The funny thing is, if you bother to try and search on the number of articles or blog posts about data, data measurement, monitoring, listening and engagement in  the last 6 years, you can see that as social has evolved, so has the need to become less fixated on quantity and more concerned with what one does with the numbers. The number of blog posts and articles in the past 6 years reflect this sea change in doing something with the numbers, yet we still aren’t there yet. Consider this post  in Gigaom, 3 accurate metrics for ROI on social media campaigns. Here is the opening sentence:

Businesses are struggling with how to evaluate the effectiveness of their social media campaigns.

Yes, we’re becoming enamored with the data and analytics of social, and we’re becoming really good at collecting it, but we still need a primer in what to do with it and how to turn it into Action. Look at how long it has taken us to get over big numbers! So when does this change? How long will it take us to get there?

 

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Seriously, What’s “A Like” Worth on Facebook?

A good friend who is the SVP of marketing for a very large Fortune 500 company recently asked me via email the following question(s)

Do you believe in the Klout score? If you were to set a KPI for success in social, would it be FB likes? and if not, what would you recommend?  My view on this is that FB likes is not the right metric, but I am not sure what is….

Great Question isn’t it?

Here was my protracted, elongated and expanded version of the original answer…

You’re views on the right metric are dead on. I’m surprised that there are still marketers out there hanging their hat on a metric based on total numbers only, but there are.  Lots of marketers have tried to peg the value of a Facebook fan/like in fact I recently read that when a Ticketmaster user posts a specific event they are attending, or may want to attend, to Facebook, it generates $5.30 of direct ticket sales

Another company called Vitrue, figures that bringing a customer on as a fan was worth between 44 cents and $3.60 in increased sales from the engagement that Facebook encourages.

The best KPI in social should be attracted to what you want to achieve. i.e. We’re going to use social to drive sales, for lead gen, for referrals, for bookings, for awareness through brand mentions etc. etc.. I don’t gauge success in social on an arbitrary growth metric of total likes, followers etc.. Initially marketers and myself included a number of years ago, thought that social success was reflected in growth of followers and likes but sadly though, you can’t. But it’s easy to get caught up in that.

Look at a Starbucks, who became early on, the darlings of social media and engagement because of the fact they grew to a million Twitter followers rather quickly. So it was assumed that a) Starbucks had mastered “social media” and b) Their “campaign” was successful because of their explosive growth in followers.  But what was that growth based on? In other words, what did Starbucks do to get the million followers? A massive push? Killer engagement? No. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was really because they are the brand, Starbucks. It just happened, but tons of pundits/people and social media consultants were looking at that million follower mark as social nirvana. As if SBucks had just rewritten the books on how to engage- when at the end of the day, they didn’t do anything other than just set up a Twitter account early on. It was just a number.

The question then becomes larger-What are you doing with the million plus followers? I think SBucks does a great job now of engagement but initially they were just as guilty as every other brand back then feeling their way around social. Push style engagement focused on growing fans, followers and likes.
I’m with you though- growing FB likes and patting yourself on the back for growth, doesn’t cut it. Now if marketers can tell us because of those likes we were able to convert them into x amount of bookings or sales, well now we’re getting somewhere. I know, there’s still that whole social branding for awareness thing that in a sense could be tied to the growth of likes, but then let’s measure it appropriately right? Let’s understand that we’re leveraging FB for specific and measurable purposes and work off of that notion.

While Facebook can provide real names of people who “like” a product, it doesn’t provide data to us on what sites are sending traffic to a fan page, how long your visitors are spending there and how they’re moving around inside the pages. No additional analytics services can be installed on Facebook pages thus we’re absolutely at the disposal of Facebook regarding these metrics.

I believe in what Klout is trying to do, maybe just not in the metrics they are using to measure influence. But right now the space is so nascent, what else is there right? A lot of brands are starting to attach themselves to Klout because they want to engage with those “uber” champions in their respective fields identified by Klout’s social metrics algo. Klout is breaking new ground in this space and I anticipate it getting better in identifying people who can move the needle for a brand.

Hope this helps

Marc

What are You Supposed to Measure in Social Media?

My graph is not totally untrue for those of you that play in the space, but I was reading a post by Tom Webster today titled, The Uneasy Relationship between Twitter and Social Media Measurement and I knew exactly where he was going with it. My above graphic doesn’t really completely delve into what the point of his post was, but it does help me highlight two things about social media measurement-one of which he does highlight in his post.

One, there is a lot of useless “social” content to sift through and Two, if the majority of people are not using Twitter and everyone is using Facebook, then why do we make brand assumptions based on a Twitter stream? Here is your answer from Tom’s post:

Most of Facebook’s user data (and, even worse, an indeterminate amount of Facebook’s user data) is not exposed to sites and services that measure sentiment, buzz and influence. So all of the new crop of sites and services that measure these things, from Klout to Crimson Hexagon to Radian6, rely heavily on Twitter, the Internet’s great easy button, as their most easily accessible source of unstructured social media data.

Ok, so again I was having a bit of fun here but I’m curious to hear what some of the social media data aficionados think. Yes there is a lot of unstructured social data out there, and yes a lot of it is bad, and thus I’m wondering; Because we cannot get behind the firewall of Facebook, are we relying on Twitter for a lot of our brand assumptions because it’s giving us the largest unfiltered swath of the social media landscape? If the answer is yes, this troubles me.

Social Media Conundrum #12: Justin Bieber is popular, but he’s not influential?

I can’t believe I’m going to weigh in on this, but I saw a tweet from a notable social media analytics consultant in which the following was stated for the umteenth time.

Popularity does not equal influence…

I immediately thought, “Could Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga sell product”? Isn’t that influence?I then had to go look up a quick definition of influence.

in·flu·ence

ˈɪnfluəns/ [in-floo-uhns] noun, verb, -enced, -enc·ing.

the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others

First I wanted to check something on Twitaholic: The top 15 people being followed on Twitter.

This is a list of the top 15 most “popular” people on Twitter. Let’s look and see who could sell or who does sell product. Let’s pare the list down first.

We have Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Ashton Kutcher, Ellen, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Oprah, 50Cent, Ashley Tisdale and Selena Gomez. 12 Celebrities from the world of entertainment. Immensely popular. But are they influential? Can they produce a compelling action on someone to buy product? Could they change behaviors and opinions? Can they influence people to buy stuff?

Lady Gaga sells video sunglasses for Polaroid, headphones for Beats by Dre, phones for VirginMobile, and a host of items and services via product placement in her videos. All this adds up to roughly $5-$10 million per year.

Rather than quote the whole  article from Guy Kawasaki, read about Guy’s experience at a Justin Bieber concert and the machine behind his persona.

Britney has deals with Elizabeth Arden and Candies. Taylor Swift has deals with Sony and CoverGirl. 50 Cent has deals with Reebok, Vitamin Water, Right Guard, PlayStation, and Steiner Sports.

We could easily go through each celebrity on this list and view the products that they sell. They sell the products because they can influence buyer behavior based on their celebrity, based on their popularity.  Am I wrong? I know sales are one thing and fame is fleeting, but because of their celebrity and popularity they can influence buyer behavior right now. Right?

How can you possibly say no? Isn’t that influence? What am I missing here? Help me out.

 


Social Media Conundrum #62 False assumptions.

thinker

I was in a meeting yesterday with a highly respected group of people running a very notable local organization. It was a follow up meeting to a social media marketing pitch made by a business associate from another company. I was enlisted as the wingman. In a sense, I was the muscle, or the validator, or better yet, the street cred. The initial meeting with this group could not have gone any better. The plan(s) and the views offered in that first meeting were warmly embraced. There was a caveat though. They wanted more. They wanted specific details on how to roll it out. Fair enough. All positive signs.

Then I relaxed and let me friend down.

I assumed she had it under control; when I should have helped her to dig deep and develop a detailed more specific and actionable social media marketing plan. I didn’t.

Our meeting was pushed back, which pushed it further out of my collective conscience. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

I should have had her back. I was her wingman right? No excuse on my part. I should have really looked at the follow up document that she had crafted, and picked holes in it, but I didn’t. I should have thought about and anticipated the “push back” from the group, but I didn’t.

And they pushed back. As nicely as they could. But they pushed. They essentially came back with saying, “There’s not enough here”. And then they talked about ROI…and how they wanted to see it. And we, me? her? Didn’t map back precisely enough on what we were going to measure and how it was going to be measured. I assumed we’d get there, after they had said yes…

Could I have jumped all over their ROI concern? You betcha. And clearly here was my chance to pounce. and I didn’t. Because in a sense it was right there for the taking. I just assumed…

The bottom line is I barely uttered a word. Part of me wanted to and I sort of said something, but it was barely audible. I needed to be her calming voice in the storm of measurable ROI. I wasn’t. Subconsciously, I didn’t want to dominate her show, but I also didn’t want to engage in a lengthy discussion in the conference room at that time over the merits of social media measurement. Or maybe that is the place and time to have that discussion?

No it isn’t. It would take too long. And, in a sense, they were right. It will be the case of every single encounter that one has when trying to pitch and trying to win social media marketing contracts.

What are you going to do? How are you going to measure it? and what will be the results?

Assume nothing.

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