Monday, February 08, 2010
"This is not about measurement, but about organizations and their capacity to manage this changing real world of reputation. They find it hard to do this, because they're stuck in an old-world broadcast model."
The speaker: Bryan Eisenberg. The setting: a past SES London conference, at an All-Star Analytics panel.
This year's SES London is, once again, particularly heavy on Analytics all-stars. As it should be. Search marketing is accountable, performance is king, and any digital marketer can improve their lot by doing a better job with the analytics toolkit.
But some people and some companies will confuse that importance with a blind faith that the measurement gurus can solve their larger strategy problems. Even the esoteric ones. Like the above question that came before the panel, roughly speaking, asking: "Hey super smart panelists, can you tell me some metrics that will help us decide whether our social media is WORKING?"
The inside-the-box answer is: measure this, measure that, and adopt the same approach to social media as you do to other channels. If you "scored," it's "working." Of course, you can measure a lot of these types of things -- just not with Omniture. Remember, the old public relations world, where a "positive mention" in the "Washington Post" is something you can count? You don't need Jim Sterne or Steve Rubel to tell you that. Nor can these experts help your organization get really good at all the stuff it needs to do to get there.
The out-of-the-box (Bryan's) answer to the social media measurement question is: sure, we'll get around to the measurement piece -- but if you're looking to "hit targets" with your social media spend, or to measure whether "it worked," maybe your organization has given you the wrong marching orders. We don't need more statisticians in this realm: we need more companies who are willing to fundamentally transform the ways in which they communicate.
I say again: (or actually, the panelists said it last year): "Can you put a dollar value on a conversation?"
Sure, you can. But let's start with getting your organization aligned with the idea of a conversation first. The only social-media-savvy company initiatives that will typically hit short-term targets are those that are architected on a broadcast model, so they defeat one of the key purposes of public relations, which is to change perceptions. And to put specific content into the public's awareness of you. To position your organization to carry on conversations that lead to business results, throughout the organization, over time, as a matter of course. Setting up your campaigns based on thin measures of short-term success might actually spur more negative conversations than positive! Or just not get you anywhere fast. You can measure that you're not getting anywhere fast. Great.
Reputations are built over time. You'll never get there if your organization has a bias for shutting down the conversation channel early because "it isn't working." Or you're insulting members of your community by being too goal-directed in online conversations, because you've incentivized your community manager by paying them a bonus for warm leads or upsells.
Am I saying you can't or shouldn't measure PR 2.0? Of course not. But if the milieu is vastly different, then you may have a lot of trouble measuring the impact, and you should probably be measuring something very different. Something that might not even be readily available in today's Google Analytics platform. "Engagement" can't just be about spending 3:28 on a website, or deciding whether someone visited the "About Us" page... as important as those may be in the ordinary course of your marketing planning.
Or to be blunt: before going out to hunt for a next-generation tool to measure "how you're doing out there," you should be actually getting out there, and doing it. If you're not? There are a bunch of free tools like Yahoo Site Explorer, Backtweets, and Google Search itself that will tell you in a couple of nanoseconds if nobody's linking to you, and nobody's talking about you.
Labels: social media, web analytics
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Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.
And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.
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