A reaction to “patented” social media measurement model

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Let me preface this by saying that I am not a technologist and am no measurement guru. But in my job, these are two important elements of the full service set, so the FH Digital team has these experts. Before having a deep discussion on the merits and pitfalls of the recently revealed “Incrementing Action Tag Solution” patented by the fine folks at Razorfish, I jotted down some initial thoughts outlined below.

My initial thoughts shed light on how digital communication professionals and digital advertisers differ in their thinking and approach to social media, and how to measure success in this new frontier. Communication professionals must adapt the types of measures and how results are packaged to appeal to marketers is something I blogged about last month.

Quality and quantity of reach

Audience reach is such an important metric for every marketer and communicator. Almost every organization is still stuck in the era of big numbers. They want millions of people to hear their message and thousands to react to the message. Times are changing. The simplicity of my colleague Matt Dickman’s redefinition of reach is one of the smartest and most appropriate concepts I’ve seen. The thing I like about the Razorfish model is it deploys the technology needed to represent the increasing quantity of engagements. Actually, engagements is the wrong word, because that’s my problem with the model. It’s really just tracking clicks.

For years, Web measurement has concentrated around tracking numbers. How many visitors do we get to the site? How long do they spend? What pages do they visit? There are also some quality metrics like where are people most likely to come from? What search terms do they use to find this page? Where do they go from here? Why are they exiting our site from this page? All of these metrics are important, but the quality measures give us context.

What about context?

It’s one thing to measure the volume of reach, but determining context is essential. What do I mean by context? Here are some thoughts.

  • How is our brand or company being talked about in the conversation?
  • What is the nature of the conversation?
  • Where else is the conversation happening?

Notice a common word in that list? Conversation.

You can track a conversation, sure, but understanding the conversation requires context. Measuring these elements is not easy. Our Digital Research Group works with partners like Collective Intellect, Evolve24 and Radian6 to capture the contextual (and quantitative) data needed to really start measuring social media.

As models for social media measurement emerge, it’s important to keep your campaign goals and objectives in focus. Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to say? What do you want them to do? How are you going to determine whether or not they do this? Considering what success means will help you define the best model. Sometimes it’s quantity, but more often than not, if you’re vested in social media and focused on developing ongoing rapport with “key influencers” quality and context needs to be part of the equation.

Preparing for more targeted results

Another shift that organizations need to prepare for with social media metrics is the nature of niche communities and 1:1 communication. Conversational marketing can spread quickly, but more often than not it takes time to build buzz and engage a larger audience. One of the greatest hurdles we experience is helping clients adapt to the world of targeted results versus mass reach.

Conversion and actionable objectives become incredibly important in social media. If people don’t act on or respond to the message, are you achieving success?

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