Friday, January 23, 2009

Red Hot Social Media Measurement

Social media measurement is sizzling. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Twitter, the Blogosphere, Facebook, YouTube and other burgeoning forms of social media are exploding. While 2008 may have been the year for “experimentation” with social media, 2009 will be the year of “measurement”. Whether you deem social media as fun & frivolous or ripe with opportunity…I’m here to tell you that it’s real marketing…so capitalize on it.

Here are a few thoughts on how:

Get specific. As with most endeavors, trying to measure everything without calibrating your focus can prove unprofitable. Think about social media measurement in terms of three distinct categories: 1) Individuals, 2) Content, and 3) Exposure. Once you establish these independent lenses for measurement, you can get fancy with your analysis. There’s a great tool for measuring Twitter influence of individuals that can shed light on social media impact and opportunity for exposure. Content is the lifeblood of your marketing and something you do have control over, so understanding which social tools are referring traffic to content and what types of content resonate (or go ChaChing!) with different audiences is extremely valuable. Finally, Exposure incorporates all that branding and PR that you work so hard to get out there as well as the buzz generated from it. Understanding your reach, the conversation, overall pick-up and redistribution will help you get more tactical about reaching your target audiences via social channels.

Don’t reinvent. By this I mean - as much as possible – use established reporting methods and familiar tools for communicating metrics. This will help you to ingrain social metrics within standardized reporting without requiring your old dog colleagues to access new interfaces and learn new tricks. Just this month Tealium announced its new measurement service for tracking social media. These former Visual Sciences entrepreneurs have tapped into the ROI of social media by enabling measurement through popular Web analytics tools. Their solution can report metrics about YouTube referrals, blog mentions and even PR exposure. They make this insight available through plug-ins to popular analytics tools like Google Analytics, Omniture Site Catalyst, Unica NetInsight, WebTrends and Coremetrics so your Web analysts get more information in their existing tools. I’m eagerly looking forward to my demo next week…so stay tuned for more.

Another Web analytics vendor Lyris HQ just gave me a preview yesterday of their new social media measurement capabilities adding more steak to the sizzle. They’ve added social media tracking to their analytics solution to identify referrals from various social marketing efforts as well as the opportunity to create segments from social media channels to identify opportunities. Expect a press release to drop on Monday.

Really measure. Clearly there’s been a lot written about Social Media Measurement already, so I’m not breaking new ground here. However, I am excited about the progression beyond buzz monitoring and aggregate dashboarding of social metrics (not that these tools aren’t valuable…they are), but most lack real analytical chops regarding the ROI of social marketing. The recently published The Forrester Wave™: Community Platforms, Q1 2009 (here’s Jeremiah’s take) identifies analytics as a critical component to monitoring a successful community. Yet, many of the Strong Performers identified in the report still fall short on their analytical capabilities. Listening is the first part of the solution, but taking action is where I see most companies stumble with analytics.


Daniel Tunkelang said...

John, do you have any evidence that the "Twitter influence" score actually measures impact? I've given some thought to this problem; check out my proposed Twitter Analog for PageRank.

John Lovett said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the post and I'm glad you pointed out your PageRank calculation. The influence scores can indeed be "influenced" by users, so perhaps you're onto a more objective method for ranking.

In both cases though, these metrics are indicators that should be applied towards an action. Simply knowing the rank or influence of an individual isn't the end game. Rather leveraging their influence is where get traction.


Daniel Tunkelang said...

John, I absolutely agree. In fact, we discussed this in the comment thread for the "TunkRank" post:

What do I care about measuring influence? Here are a couple of reasons:

- I’d like to be able to measure my own influence, since one of my goals is to increase the leverage associated with my ideas. If I were a company, the same would apply to measuring brand capital. In my own case, I’d like to be able to check my balance of reputation capital.

- I’d like to know who the influencers are so I can monitor them and in some cases court them. Of course I’ll have other criteria about the people and their areas of expertise. But the ability to explore and the ability to sort by influence are complementary. For example, I’d love to know who are the most influential people tweeting about information seeking.