A recent SmartBrief on Social Media poll asked the question: What is the most important metric to track in social media?
The results found that "virality" and "sentiment" predominated, not ROI.
- Virality (the reach of your brand and how much your message is spread), 35%
- Sentiment (positive, negative or indifferent consumer reaction), 32%
- Financials (the effect social media has on your bottom line), 20%
- Volume (number of comments, blog posts, tweets, links, etc. about your brand), 11%
- Other, 2%
There's a lot of talk these days about measuring social media. (I'm reading an article right now on tracking your Twitter ROI) I've even suggested that the "warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely" days of social media are over. The CEO wants to know the ROI of SMM! Having said that, I still believe there are some things that aren't subject to statistical scrutiny.
One of favorite songs from years past, Matters of the Heart, comes from singer/songwriter Bob Bennett. The chorus goes, "You can show me your sales curve, plot my life on a flowchart, but there's just some things that numbers can't measure, matters of the heart."
We marketers put a lot of emphasis on sales curves (ROI) and such things as behavioral targeting (i.e. plotting someone's life on a flowchart as it were). But, there is a quality about social media that is very hard to define. It's a "secret sauce" that makes it very special. For lack of a better term, I refer to it as a "matter of the heart."
On last week's edition of User Friendly Thinking radio, we interviewed Michael Brito. One question asked of him had to do with social media measurement. He indicated he wasn't a big fan. I led a Twitterchat during the show and tweeted that question along with Michael's response. Robert Scoble chimed in with a response of his own, which ended up being retweeted numerous times. In regard to the measurement issue, he said, "only two matter: 1. Are you causing a conversation? 2. Are sales going up? All others are fluff."
You might suggest that Robert is taking this too lightly. However, I've been listening to him long enough to value his input. Let's say, just for sake of argument, that Robert is right. We still need to find a way to track the cause/effect. Online reputation management software such as Techrigy's SM2 enable us to listen and monitor the conversation. Google Analytics enables us to see metrics on the Web site side of things. But, is there a way to connect the dots? Can we determine that someone's viewing a YouTube video led to an increase in traffic on the Web site or that coverage of a topic by bloggers led to an increase in sales?
Tealium, a company that specializes in metrics and analytics, has created a product that they suggest does precisely that, Tealium Social Media. It sits squarely between tools like SM2 and Google Analytics and somehow (don't ask me how) ties the two together so that you can see the end from the beginning.
I've long believed that the answer to this social media measurement dilemma was going to be better software and that's proving true. I'm sure 2009 will produce a variety of applications focused on solving the social media measurement dilemma. One thing I can tell you, the discussion will not be put to rest until some system is developed that can adequately address the matter. Hopefully, that day won't be long in coming.
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