Home > Metrics and Measurement, Social Media > Do we fear measuring Social Media?

Do we fear measuring Social Media?

FearI smell fear.  

In spite of overwhelming evidence of its impact on people’s perceptions and opinions, as well as numerous examples of its prowess as an effective marketing tool, it sure seems like there are still too many marketers with a real fear of measuring social media. 

OK, I’ll admit that fear is not the only reason.  Far from it, there are several other reasons that we don’t measure. 

Regardless, this lack of measurement is preventing us from demonstrating the real value social media brings, and it may ultimately slow its adoption rate in the corporate marketing world. 

Please understand that I’m not suggesting that we should apply the same method of social media measurement to every situation.  Since marketers bring anything but a “one size fits all” approach to social media use, it would be unwise to apply a single approach or finite set of metrics to its measurement. 

What I am suggesting is that as professional marketers, we carry a responsibility to demonstrate the value of any tools we use, including social media.  While we may need to look at each situation on a case-by-case basis to determine a specific method of measurement, it is critical for our clients to understand what goes into it, and what they can expect out of it, in order for them to buy in.  Our ability (and willingness) to measure tools like social media is also critical in getting clients to understand our value as marketers.   

Perhaps a different way of looking at things is to ask what we should fear if we don’t measure social media to demonstrate its value.  Some recent examples:

  • In “Social Media Denial”, a recent Web Business  blog post, author Ken Burbary points out that  “…there are many people who either don’t agree, don’t understand or haven’t yet taken the time to learn about social media”.  He also provides an example of a long-time communications professional that clearly doesn’t get it.   
  • In a post called “Have kool-aid drinkers totally screwed the social media space?” from The Viral Garden blog, author Mack Collier laments that we may be part of the problem in inadvertently creating an environment where clients often don’t understand the value that we provide via social media consulting and services.   
  • In his Social Media Explorer blog, author Jason Falls states in a post called “Social Media ROI? Traditional Is Still More Accepted” that we already face an uphill battle, as social media isn’t (yet) valued as highly as other more traditional, but even less measurable, marketing methods. 

Ultimately, my opinion is that when it comes to measuring social media, we still have a window of opportunity to demonstrate its value, with so many great minds, powerful tools, meaningful metrics, and vast resources at our disposal.  However, if we “pass” on this opportunity, whether due to fear or other reasons, that window will close on us quickly. 

So how about it – what do you think?  Do we fear measuring social media? How are you measuring it?  Or, if you aren’t, why not?  I’d love to hear, and would welcome your comments.

– Jim S.

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  1. Rachel D.
    October 18, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Something must be said regarding what sort of “mood” or “attitude” our demographic is in when they stumble across our social media information.

    In relation to the traditional media methods: tv, radio, print… our audience is typically relaxed, and seeking information in a pleasured state. Social media is where we find folks in a hurry (fb-ing at work?), clamoring online to make travel reservations, constantly checking email, news or stocks… it tends to make the heart race and often times our attempts at social media are overlooked, perhaps sometimes even annoying.

    There should be a +/- 10% scale for the SM metrics in relation to how ready and willing the audience is to let the information we feed them “stick”.

    • Jim Suchara
      October 18, 2009 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks, Rachel!

      I agree that mood or attitude is a definite factor in determing how receptive people will be to social media outreach, and that it should be considered in our SM measurement.

      To me, the interesting part is that we can to a great extent influence people’s mood by how we approach them. If we overtly “market at them”, it tends to violate the communal/conversational nature of social media, and they can become immediately turned off. Conversely, if we truly “listen” and “talk” with them in meaningful dialog, we create a more relaxed environment that can improve their mood – and receptiveness – to our message.

      – Jim S.

  1. April 19, 2010 at 11:53 pm

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