Social Media Metrics
Yesterday, IAB released a report supposed to bring some clarity to the topic of social media metrics (one of the key issue discussed in the SMM community).
August Ray did a nice analysis of it. I agree there isn’t anything new in it and it’s kind of missing the point. I first scanned it and was excited by the title then disappointed at the end. The scope being social media advertising gives it the benefit of the doubt. It reminds me of the difference between marketing in social media and social media marketing which we wrote about a while ago.
The key struggle I’ve seen in discussions on SMM metrics or ROI comes with the fact that social media brings the qualitative dimension to the equation of measurement in addition to the quantitative one. Qualitative comes with social.
Social media participants are not keywords, clicks, they’re people. It’s always harder to count, evaluate people’s contribution and actions, especially in the context of conversations which are the DNA of social media. Measuring social media (i.e: through conversations and actions) can become really tricky as 1) nobody talks about the same topic the same way and 2) (borrowed to Nietszche – middle of the page) words are just sounds representing concepts which may carry different meanings and feelings for different people.
It’s easier to count widgets or $. In social media, you have to account for the who, factor the what and why, take into account dimensions like time..There’s also a subjective spin to it.
Earlier this week, I read a post about trying to rank university by the volume of conversations. It made no sense as the count included conversations on student night life and on the quality of the research program which, everybody would agree, are really oranges and apples .
Basically more precision is needed when trying to measure social media.
First, you have to start with a goal; say, ranking university for their research program. Next, understand the audience you will consider in the measurement process (student? professors? consultants?). Last, segment the audience, evaluate the category of conversations, volume, tone… of those conversations (whatever is useful to give enough qualitative spin to the end result) . Then report (with a mix of quantitative and qualitative data).
I’d rather point people to this nice presentation from KD Paine when it comes to measuring social media ROI.