Social media is as exciting a marketing channel as it is confusing. This is particularly true when it comes to measuring the business value of social media campaigns. Organizations are spending billions on Facebook and Twitter but there is widespread confusion about the values that are being won on those investments.
In this video, Nate Elliot, Vice-President and Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, asserts that one important reason for this problem is that the whole enterprise is built on the false confidence of bad metrics. According to Elliot, the number of followers or the number of people talking about a subject are not valid business metrics. Insisting that they are will only make it harder to test and learn.
Elliot cites search and email as channels that, unlike social media, marketers positively learned to measure in terms of business impact. Doing this allowed marketers to test and learn. With email, for example, professionals tested everything from subject lines to targeting criteria to time of day to message volumes, measuring it back directly to real business results. This testing and learning is vital in the development of best business practices.
However, according to Elliot, we don’t have this in social because “we’re not being honest about the metrics we use.” We rely on metrics that don’t relate back to business value in any meaningful way. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel because social media sites themselves have started to offer free brand impact surveys. LinkedIn started this, followed by Twitter and then Facebook—to their biggest advertisers.
Marketers did not ask for these surveys but, Elliot concludes, “the marketers need to ask for [them,] the sites need to offer [them,] we need to start measuring against the kind of metrics that CMOs understand.”
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