The Social Media Measurement Smackdown

Comments: 11

  • In healthcare we are all about measurement. Evidence-based medicine, outcomes, patient satisfaction, compliance with regulations, improving quality and performance, managing risks, reporting, effective and efficient use of resources, etc.

    Why would we not want to also measure the effectiveness of our social media efforts?

  • Mark, I’m all for measurement. That’s cool. What I disagree with is when the bosses throw ROI requirements at real-time media like Twitter and blogs as a way to say “NO” to something that they are ignorant of. And I love to point out the hypocrisy that they do not calculate the ROI of another real-time media – their blackberry.

  • Hi Mark, I agree with you totally, trouble is I believe that social media management falls in the same boat as general marketing: organisations don’t tend to monitor the ROI.

    Your point about the “bubble bursting” is good, when times are bad it is those marketers who do “value their activities” who will prosper.

  • I agree with your article and observations. Of course one has to measure all efforts conducted by your marketing department and/or director. I recently wrote an article on one of my blogs that touches on some of your points. Measuring ROI will differ depending on what your marketing goals are. Also, the ROI of a brand new processing company and an established world wide brand like Mercedes Benz will be two different stories. Furthermore, some brands and concepts lend themselves much easier to social media. If you have a hot, haute couture store called bebe at a local shopping center, one would expect that thousands of hip, cool, cute women will “like ” you and/or comment with enthusiasm. Try getting people to “like” a company that sells carborators or window screens. Different animals.

    Here’s my story:
    Regards Mike Kirner

  • I suspect they’re not real anti-measurements rants, but anti-VC-backed-measurement-by-entrepreneurial-imagineer-rants. The “industry” has too many baboons chasing bunnies.

  • Those who toss out soundbites like “What’s the ROI of a Blackberry?” etc. are making poor analogies.

    Those who ignore the ROI question generally don’t know what their objectives are or never gave them a thought. Set the objectives then the ROI will come.

    Besides, if you really want to measure the ROI of a receptionist, etc., it’s definitely doable. Calculate the rate of pay and other “costs” then research the cost of an automated system, and look into what customers/callers think of the company due to his/her interaction, the issues and problem the receptionist has resolved or minimized because the system is not automated, etc. That’s just a stab. The ROI, of course, depends on what the objectives are for the position.

    – @MikeDriehorst

  • Cool post Mark. I have always associated ROI to hypocrisy especially when employers are able to measure ROI and not being able to measure that of mobile devices but after justifying on human efforts (second point), am now convinced that there is a need to determine the return on investment.

    Erick Kinuthia
    Team MDwebpro

  • Hi Mark,
    I agree with the points made about taking a cavalier attitude towards ROI. As far as I’m concerned the ROI hasn’t changed. Like any other tools, social media is either going to make you money, save you money or help you prevent losses. What I don’t agree with is the measurement madness. It’s too easy to get lost in meaningless numbers (likes, follows, RTs, views, traffic etc) and most business leaders tend to be spreadsheet junkies and feeding thm rather than educating them helps no one because buy-in usually hinges on their acceptance. And I’m not a fan of feeding the dinosaurs. Measuring these numbers don’t indicate ROI because they don’t measure anything worthwhile in terms of achieving goals. They only really measure things that sound like they matter which drives people to use tactics that can hurt or not even produce any “engagement” but make the reports look good. Most of the numbers can hekp us understand reactions to specific events or content or help measure trends but they’re not goals and they don’t necessarily help with conversions. Some agencies and brands even pay for likes/views/shares/follows to drive the numbers up. What gets lost is the value of doing the hard on the ground work to build proper relationships and identify the right people. This takes time and an attitude shift. Usually, demands for ROI are from business leaders who want a reason NOT to shift because change is hard and scary. In addition to that, you’re not going to be able to measure the ROI of everything you do in social media because part of what gets discovered through social media gets spread outside of social media and the purchases or other completions of calls to action can also happen offline. What’s more important is to measure what matters and not create false expectations that detract from what we’re really trying to do with social media which is usually to find the right people and get them to do what we want them to do so that there is R on our I. I firmly believe that social media and marketing are best used as business transformation tools to facilitate a state where a business has as many positive relationships as possible and I use them in this manner in my work. My take on what’s worth measuring? Both internally and externally: Thank You, Wow and Done. Simple (but not necessarily easy) as that. I detail what that means on an external basis on my blog and would love to hear what you think. Link is here:

    • Also, in terms of cost savings when the bubble bursts, companies would do better to get more social themselves and consult their employees on their ideas for how to save money than to bring in the number crunchers. I’ve seen it work. The employees know what works and what doesn’t and they’re probably better at helping you cut than “number crunchers”.

  • Two key points stick out for me in that article:
    1. “We have so much data coming at us, there is simply no excuse not to measure”
    2. If you are going to spend $100k on a social media professional and not measure their activity, you must be insane.

    I love guru Gary Vaynerchuck @garyvee. I’ve often used a similar argument myself challenging people “What’s the ROI of your dog”. It’s a provocative statement that starts a great debate, but to say that you can’t measure what we do in social is ridiculous. like the ‘value of a fan’ debate, this will only get worse as brands start to look to justify their increasingly large social spends.

    The problem is that 85% of people who are working in social media have been in it for less than 2 years. That’s why there is so much bad advice floating around and so many badly run campaigns (without any real measurement).

    Simply hiding behind an “engagement” argument or palming social off as 100% customer service and therefore above such metric is naive and ignorant. The truth about social (and the reason that I love it so much) is that we can measure EVERYTHING. You can’t do that with all ATL advertising. You can’t do it with PR. it’s almost impossible measuring SEO effectively.

    I think the solution is for all the guru’s to get the f*** out of the way and let the 15% of us who know what we are doing – do our jobs properly.

    • It’s not true that you can measure everything and I don’t think you should either. It’s too easy to get lost in the numbers. As for the value of a fan/follower, you can’t assume people who have clicked “Like” or “Follow” have any monetary value unless you’ve got so many other things right: web design, calls to action, appropriate content, great product etc and even then those are not guarantees that people will buy anything. Especially if you run “like to enter” or “Follow and RT” competitions or similarly incentivise this behaviour.

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