Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Measuring Social Media

Measurement is at the heart of all successful direct marketing. The same goes for web marketing. If you can't measure it, how do you know it's working?

Social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) presents some interesting challenges when it comes to measurement. These challenges are generally thought to be unique to the medium.

This article on MediaPost purports to provide 100 ways to measure social media. It makes for interesting reading, and may well present a convincing argument to many. Anybody with a background in direct marketing, and a healthy disrespect for the way brand advertising is measured, will immediately recognise social media measures for what they are.

I do think you can measure social media. The things you can measure are the things you've always been able to measure. All you need is a way to track your content. And on the web, tracking can be automated from the initial content through to a sale. As a result, you can easily measure...
  • Number of visitors
  • Number of responses
  • Number of sales
  • Revenue
  • Costs
  • Net profit
Everything else occurs to me as an attempt to grab hold of smoke, and throw it in the eyes of the people paying the bill. That article I linked to above suggests a measure called buzz. But what does "buzz" actually mean? What does it tell you? How does it relate to profit? How is a "shift in buzz over time" useful in a financial sense? How do I relate it to the things that matter in business. Why is a "shift in buzz" a signal that my social media activity is helping the business?

I'm a sometimes crotchety direct marketer from way back, and all this talk of abstract measures remind me of "top of mind" and "share of mind". I think measuring "buzz" is a waste of time, useful only to ad agencies seeking to justify large bills and line managers with an eye on building an empire.