Mar 26 Posted 5 years ago
Hi Marshal: Timely and highly relevant post, thank you. I think you and I have had a couple of brief chats online about the implications of this, so now is as good as a time as any to blow them out a little ;)
I think you allude to a few critical challenges with respect to process.
For one, I think the lack of process has more to do with the fact that most companies - especially agencies - can't get a handle on Big Data, and in particular, unstructured data. Secondly, in any instance or use case, I think this ladders up to an economic and business problem that can't be identified because the agency or a corporation will look for solutions that are creative or communications or brand-based, as opposed to understanding the value of the impact social media or social communications can have on the business. Third, and probably the most confounding, I don't think any of these organizations are approaching each situation contextually -- defining the real business or economic challenge, and then organizing respective internal groups to convene strategically around a solution-set, and from different angles. Lastly, I don't think most orgs are operationally capable of doing what I just mentioned -- they are literally hamstrung in their ability to problem-solve beyond a tactical outlook because, operationally, they can't get the various internal groups to talk constructively around what a solution-set could even look like.
So what about "ROI"?
This is a much larger conversation, but I think it boils down to breaking the legacy that vendors and agencies have created for the industry, which is essentially really bad "best practices" through digital measurement ("sales funnel" or "impressions/exposures" type crap), or simply no practices at all. The search and display spaces are glaring examples of this -- just look at how privacy is grossly mishandled. To boot, ROI is thought of as some iteration of a direct sale, as opposed to the possibility that attribution could be direct, latent or both. Even worse, analytics folks have largely been taught to think in only terms of numbers, not text or conversations, and semantics or NLP (for example) is an elusive discipline few companies really understand how to do. In sum, measurement has largely been thought of as a quantitative exercise, with very rigid thresholds for analysis.
So, I suppose ROI processes can emerge out of re-education or a redefinition of business goals, and those would emerge out of orgs learning how to operate better -- to understand that how they operate directly serves the functions for business or sales impact. It pretty much starts there, because no software or social technology can do that for you.
To quote Jeff Jonas of IBM's Entity Analytics Group: "When the data finds the data, the insight finds the user."
Orgs have a lot of work to do in preparing the data piece in this equation.
Mar 26 Posted 5 years ago
Good points! I've been chatting more and more about analytics and my first response to analytics & ROI quesitons is that Social Media is a communications tool, like a cell phone or an email program. How does one measure these assets? To measure ROI it has to sit on the asset side of the balance sheet. Just as with the difficulty of measuring how much business you gained by having an email address is practically an effort in futility so is measuring some sort of return on the time spent in social media engagement.
But I don't think that that's 100% accurate either. Afterall, there are tons of analytics available but there is not one that tracks from source to sales order over time. Most companies aren't tracking, and never have, the 'first appearance' of a new "lead" (whether it be via a paricular trade show, magazine buy, or google search) and Social Media CRM is not yet evolved to a point where it can do it well either.
Even if they where evolved, how would you track the influence of "brand identity" exposures via social media: How do you measure that one key phrase that caught your attention when you glanced at Twitter one day and forgot about, and then mentally noted that the company was in a magazine ad at a later time, or their name in a trade show registry before one synapse connected to another and said "I remember that tweet they did! Maybe THAT product is the solution I need!"
For now, I think many people are chasing ghosts and you're right, you need to have a plan on what to track from the start. But there again, another problem crops up: If you've never gone fishing, you have to first learn how to fish to develop your fishing strategy. ..and to even further the complexity, the social media platforms themselves are in a constant state of change so what you once thought was something valid to measure is now irrelevant. It's like learnign how to play three dimensional chess in the middle of a hurricane on the deck of a ship.
Mar 26 Posted 5 years ago
It would be maddening to get too specific with standards as platforms are continuously being introduced and reimagined, but a basic set of processes is definitely needed. Who would have the final, official say?
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