Cross-posted excerpt from the Ignite Social Media blog.
Enterprise business intelligence analysts are getting a new toy to play with, this one addressing the rapidly evolving field of social media analytics. SAS, practically our neighbor just up the road in Cary, NC, launched their new Social Media Analytics solution this past week in Seattle – a launch which incidentally made some very smart uses of social media in its own right. As a follow up, SAS hosted a small event Wednesday night for agencies and social media practitioners in the Research Triangle area, and was nice enough to throw us an invite or two.
A quick thanks to David Thomas, the social media manager from SAS, for both those invites and for hosting a great event. You can find some photos of the gathering over on Wayne Sutton’s blog. Beyond the networking, David managed to work in a very interesting demo of the new service. Here are two of my initial takeaways:
Because that’s not what matters. Reading over a bit of a rant from Amber Naslund, she leads of with a great point that, while often said, needs repeating:
Unless you can tell me what the hell [all those followers] going to do for you, how you’re going to mobilize them, and what you’re going to give back to them that makes it worth their while to grant you their attention and continue to give it, who cares? People aren’t marbles, and you don’t get any points for collecting a bunch of staring eyeballs that are waiting for you to do something significant. Attention only matters if can move people beyond noticing, and into investing their time and energy.
What matters is if you have the right fans, and if you’re doing the right things with them. What do I mean by the “right” fans? I mean fans who are there for the right reasons – they are interested in your product, brand, or service, in what you have to say or in the value you can provide to them. They are there to engage with you, and fellow fans, and ideally contribute in a tangible way. They aren’t there just to grab some short-term rewards before running off to the next online promotion. They are engaged. They are happy to share with their friends what they love (or at least find useful) about you.
True, volume can have some degree of virtue. If you have boatloads of followers on Twitter, chances are at least some of them are there for the right reasons. But the error is in focusing on the volume, which is what Amber is on about, because you’ll waste your time in an endless churn for any way to gather up those raw numbers. Far too many social media plans explicitly go for the topline fan or follower count, and ignore the deeper metrics that tell the story about the quality of their engagement with you.
So from a metrics perspective, what should you care about when it comes to fans and followers? Well, first off, the business metrics that matter. Beyond that, focus on ratios that indicate actual engagement with your brand, uniquely for each channel – fan feedback percentage, number of fan interactions around key content, number of @ and retweets, and so on.
Measure – and strive to achieve – what matters. Just like impressions is a measure of reach, and not impact, so are raw numbers of fans and followers. Look deeper, and focus on gathering the fans and followers that are actually valuable for your business.
Fantastic stats and bits of news in this video:
Oddly, the one I find most amazing is that apparently this year Boston College stopped providing email addresses to incoming freshmen. As integral as email is to my generation, as passe as it seems to be to the next.
Found courtesy of Jake McKee/Community Guy.
UPDATE: Just found the source data over on the video producer’s blog. Bookmarked…
Social Media ROI is one of those “oh God will it never die?!?” subjects that engenders endless debate across the blog and twitterspheres, very often with seriously suspect results. It’s just a damn hard question to answer – how do you determine the financial impact of all that time, energy, and budget your organization is investing in tweets, posts, comments, podcasts, and so on?
In doing some client research on the subject last month, I found it useful to consider the subject in terms of Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).* That helped me break down my understanding of potential Social Media ROI (smROI**) into two parts:
Short- and long-term smROI
Short-term smROI is loosely defined as when you use social media right alongside traditional demand generation elements within the marketing mix (think direct mail, email campaigns, etc). Companies like Dell use Twitter to drive direct, trackable sales through accounts like @DellHomeOffers and @DellSmBizOffers that offer up targeted product discounts and specials. Thousands of brands use blog posts in a similar manner, and you can see the same across pretty much every social media channel there is.
Calculating short-term smROI is the (relatively) easy part – you can make a pretty clear, compelling, and defensible ROI argument for these kinds of activities (X tweet generated Y sales). Unfortunately for us, that’s not really the kind of smROI that’s the subject of so much debate. That pain-in-the-ass kind is what I’ll call long-term smROI, which is really a fancy way of asking what all that “engaging in conversations” brouhaha is really worth.
Long-term smROI is akin to long-term ROMI – it’s all about brand awareness, loyalty, and other very difficult to quantify – in terms of bottom-line financial impact – activities. In traditional marketing these are the brand-building 30 second TV spots and conference sponsorships, among countless other activities. To create impact metrics many brands use survey-driven scoring such as Net Promoter, satisfaction, and so on. The same applies for social media activities that fall outside the definition of short-term smROI – they’re just hard to really measure, and as such marketers, consultants, community managers, and so on are constantly working to justify and defend them.
So what’s the solution to determining long-term smROI? Run NetP or CSAT surveys all the time? Maybe – I won’t pretend to have a firm answer, though I obviously have an opinion (a later post). One line of research I am fascinated by however is found in the ENGAGEMENTdb report from Altimeter Group/Wetpaint (PDF), released in July 2009. They paint an interesting picture to claim there is a direct correlation between brands that are deeply and broadly engaged in social media and financial success (more or less – read the report). That’s still a hell of a leap to take to management: lots of SM engagement —> analyst report! —> ROI, done! But they have some great data in there and filled an important gap in the debate.
A debate which I’m sure will continue for many years to come…
*This isn’t to deny other ways to realize ROI from social media, such as through decreases support costs. My focus, for now, was on marketing.
**Using “smROI” based on the Twitter hashtag in use of #smROI. Seemed handy enough.