Misled By The Wrong “Social” Numbers

by Jay Deragon on 02/27/2012

Everyone seems to be consumed with numbers produced by all this social media activity. Many organizations fail to consider whether they are measuring the wrong things.

Now the “numbers” are attracting attention to social media. Subsequently everyone wants BIG numbers. Followers, tweets, retweets, blog post, rankings, Google juice, traffic and the obsession for numbers continues. While numbers are important they do not always reveal the true value being created or destroyed. All the major industries have seen their numbers go down consistently for years. Did the numbers lead them to change their course? No, it only reflected a cause they failed to recognize.

Everybody Wants A Measure

eMarketer reports: Social media is one of the most difficult forms of marketing to measure

Most marketers know that company executives want to be able to measure marketing tactics and campaigns. But as the marketing mix evolves and becomes more interconnected, this has grown more challenging.

Voice-based marketing automation platform Ifbyphone surveyed marketing professionals for its “2011 State of Marketing Measurement Report” and 82% said their executives expect every campaign to be measured.

Yet, breaking down the different marketing types, only 47% of US marketers believe they can effectively measure the return on investment of email marketing, and other types of marketing saw even smaller percentages. For social media marketing, only 26% of marketers think they can effectively measure ROI.

When it comes to the challenges of online marketing, measuring which keywords drive either the most clicks (40%), the most online conversations (40%) and the most phone calls (37%) were cited by marketers as challenges. via Measurement Challenges Stump Marketing Executives – eMarketer.

What Should We Measure?

The most important things in business are those things you can’t measure, you can’t see but such things can make or break your business.  What are such things which you cannot measure? How do you measure the value of relationships, conversations and the intangible benefit such things produce? It is the intangible things that create success but management wants to focus on results at the cost of the intangible things. Doing so destroys relationships, manipulates conversations and encourages the production of false results because that is what management wants, “results even when they are false”.

Attention is rapidly moving to the intangibles and engagement is free but the cost of trying to force results can be very high. Consider what results and the subsequent cost are to these actions.

  1. You can use automated technology to gain followers on Twitter. What results do you get? The need to spend more time “vetting through the useless chatter”.
  2. You can push the wrong message out to large audiences. What results do you get? A rejection by the audience.
  3. You can “play” with conversations and try and trick the market. What results do you get? Your brand equity destroyed
  4. You can push out a lot of messages. What results do you get? Labeled as a spammer.
  5. You push out fake message. What results to you get? Fake relations.
  6. You chase BIG numbers. What do you get? A lack of understanding the root cause of what will improve the right numbers

Business leaders, marketers and advertisers, must learn how to enhance the relationship with their markets rather than trying to produce results through numbers. The goal is a conversation which begets a relationship that can produce results. However, focusing on the results does not produce relationships.

Numbers do matter but what causes the numbers to produce the right results matters most. Don’t be misled by the wrong numbers.

 

{ 1 comment }

Christopher S. Rollyson February 28, 2012 at 1:16 am

Jay, thanks for laying it on the line. I might even go a touch further: social business is not marketing at all, so “social media marketing” is DOA. Marketing, which usually refers to impersonal, undifferentiated, scaled communications, is precisely what people no longer want. Personalized “touches” in digital venues is totally different because they are so scalable *and* specific. You may be interested in this Social Network Life Cycle Model, which uses relationship-focused quantitative measures to plot firms’ progress toward engagement and sales. http://bit.ly/snrshipmodel1

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