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October 22, 2008

eMetrics: Actionable Social Media Metrics

By Li Evans

Social_media_metrics_emetrics_2 During the first day of sessions at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington DC, the day's been split into 4 different tracks.  I decided to just plunk myself down into all the social media sessions for the day.  You'll see a mix of reviews on the session highlights both here and on Key Relevance's blog, SEMClubhouse, so make sure to keep an eye on that blog for other sessions.

Participation is Key with Social Media

In the session Actionable Social Media Metrics, Jason Burby and Ryan Turner of Zaaz, got right to the heart of what social media is and what actionable social media metrics means.  When we talk about social media, what we really mean is PARTICIPATION.  Participation in a social environment really happens because its true collaboration.  When you invite your customers to participate online it becomes interactive participation and co-production, Ryan explained to the audience.

However, social media is not limited to just the web, it's on the cell phone.  The web is a platform for social interaction, we are only starting to see the beginning. 

Not All Media is Social

A big thing to remember is that not all "media" is social.  TV, radio, mail, print, direct mail all fall into the  non-social realm, they offer no way to share your ideas with like minded individuals, in fact most are just pushing a message to you.  Instead of this being interactive, it's reactive.  The same can be said for "older" websites that haven't evolved.

Looking at Kodak's photo gallery site compared to Photobucket.  Once the interactive (social) part of Photobucket was noticed back in about late 2005, it started to take off, where Kodak's site stayed flat traffic wise.  The same is for Yahoo's Geocities, compared to MySpace, as we all know GeoCities, is just about dead.  Lastly, looking at Microsoft's Encarta compared to Wikipedia, it is like the other two, Wikipedia being the interactive / social site, has blown away Encarta traffic wise.

So why did these sites eventually fail?  It all comes down to PARTICIPATION and these 6 points.

  1. failure to think strategically
  2. failure to understand users
  3. failure to align with a brand
  4. failure to create value
  5. failure to measure 1 through 4 
  6. failure to plan ongoing optimization

Marketers and website owners need to keep in mind that social media is made up of people, relationship among people and people who create communities. 

"Measuring the Success of Social Media"

Social_media_metrics_emetrics_1 These days it's become a challenging economic climate, and what that ultimately means is there's a lot more accountability for dollars spent on marketing projects such as social media.  Social Media can be tough to measure if there aren't specific goals!  You need to ask before your start "what are our goals?"

Understanding the impact the social media conversations have on your business is important.  You could be having a 1 on 1 conversation with with a customer, but in the meantime that customer is having a bunch of other conversations on the web, or even cellphone asking people what they think of you, your brands or your products.

What do you look at for measuring social media?  Jason suggests, web analytics data, behavioral data, transaction data, and social data. However, again it's all about setting goals and measuring against those and a lot comes down to perception of those goals.

In the end its about the value you create for the visitor, not just conversion!  Conversion can be a red herring.  Value creation is about connections, conversation, relationship, exploration, consumption, positive feedback loops, and relevancy. Its about authentic, value creating, relationships that persist over time and across many channels.

Some ways Ryan and Jason suggest to look at things when it comes to social media:

  • measure return visitor sign-in, not total registrations
  • how often are they coming back and how long are they staying?
  • measure the rate of qualified content consumption not the total amount of content
  • behavioral data is not about value, but as value!

There are also a plethora of tools emerging to track, and measure the value.  But you need to define what your success is before you begin. Creating a list of key behaviors on your site is a great place to start.  You should rank them by the amount of created value they reflect and then group them into classes with scores. 

There are four families of social media that Jason and Ryan show:

  • monitoring and response
  • social media products and service -  (creating stand alone social media programs)
  • integrated
  • intranet - (more for employees)

When It Comes to Social Media You Need to "Think Beyond"

As companies and websites, you need to think beyond your site - look at Portability:

  • content - media as object (widgets, APIs, mashability)
  • authentication - safety and security (openid)
  • relationships  - interconnectedness (open social) 

As companies and websites, you need to think beyond your site -look at Popularity:

  • collaborative filters
  • social bookmarking
  • influencer marketing
  • Buyer (both populating engines and influencers are very sensitive to manipulation, viral attention is massive but short lived.  plan for long term)  

Ryan and Jason caution that you can't respond to ever nuance, but to get in there and understand what conversations are the one's that need attention is very important to being effective in social media.


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Thanks for the roundup, Li. I think you got covered a lot of the key messages in that presentation--considering how fast we had to talk to get through all those slides, I'm impressed you captured all that!

For me, the measurement part of social media has to reflect a broader agenda for how to approach web marketing--so measure quality, meaning, and value. And as Tim O'Reilly has been saying lately, "work on the stuff that matters."

I had lots of great follow-up conversations after the session, and I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation.

Good information; I think that the most important idea from this article is PARTICIPATION and how it can bring your business down.

Just for this article I've placed this blog in my links section

Thank you

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