By Al Kao, Natural Search Supervisor & Charlie Roraback, Paid Search Coordinator
Social media continues to capture the attention of marketers and the businesses they service, particularly as new reports of Facebook’s and Twitter’s growth barrage our daily senses.
Companies large and small are experimenting with social media sites. First there was MySpace, then YouTube, followed by Facebook and Twitter. Now, Facebook and Twitter are top of mind for most companies working with social media.
But marketers still struggle with social media. There are endless debates and opinions about the value of leveraging social media, the impact and effectiveness of social media initiatives, and even questioning whether social media will take over search.
Measuring Social Media
There are numerous third party tools to measure and monitor social media results: fans, followers, likes, conversations, interactions, and any other variable you can imagine are increasing as well.
Twitter, for example, has various third party tools that measure retweets, followers, trending topics and so on. There are also numerous tools offered by large properties such as Facebook which offers its own “insights” through proprietary reporting and measurement tools that attempt to incorporate user data not accessible to the public.
But the metric most marketers still consider is “followers” or “fans”.
However, increasingly savvy marketers are realizing they need more than “followers” or “fans” to measure the impact and value of social media.
Relevancy through the Social Media Noise
Basing social media campaigns and successes on “fans” or “followers” is an overly simplistic point of view. Savvy marketers know that there are more metrics out there. But how do you find them?
After all, the Internet has made information a commodity. Anyone can find information and there is an infinite amount available.
Studies have shown that as consumers are presented with more choices they tend to act less rationally. It becomes difficult for the consumer to discern what is relevant and what constitutes as noise.
Social media can quickly fill up with noise. For example, a survey last year found that 40% of Twitter tweets are pointless babble. The study also found that only 38% of the tweets were conversational.
Drilling down the content and context of the conversational social media messages is what proves useful to marketers. But what metrics provide marketers with the data they need?
Needing Social Media Metrics
As social media adaptation continues, our clients have begun questioning the value and impact of social media.
• How to measure social media and how does it connect with search?
• Does social media increase my web traffic and sales?
• How are customers finding us, by search or social media or both?
Compounding the confusion is the massive amount of data available to effectively evaluate or answer many of the questions stated above. How do marketers determine what data to collect? What data should be analyzed and what actions should be taken?
Several months ago, we posted a blog post discussing the fallacy of measuring Twitter success by simply looking at the number of followers. Counting the number of followers is NOT enough to measure the success of Twitter. Measuring retweets, @mentions, and even trending are more important than collecting followers.
But defining social media metrics alone is STILL not enough. There needs to be a top-down creation and execution of social media initiatives, particularly the inclusion of social media with search and the inevitable overlap between social media and search.
Coming Next: Fumbling at Creating Social Media Campaigns & Defining Social Metrics
In our next installment, we’ll discuss the foibles of conceptualizing social media campaigns, the problems of defining social media metrics, and the need to connect social media with search marketing.