One of my last assignments of the semester is to write a paper on social media metrics. I was part of a research team that interviewed about a dozen social media directors in the private sector and is using the interviews to try and find lessons for the public sector. It was a really interesting project, the research team consisted six students and two professors from The Maxwell School and iSchool at Syracuse University.
I thought I would share some quotes from the interviews that I found interesting. There is a lot of great quotes, so here are some that I came across while working on my paper. One quote that I remember the interviewee saying, but I have had trouble locating in the text, is the interviewee expressing how the idea of “losing touch” has become archaic in our society. This got me thinking – is it a fair analogy to say social media is to communication as the airplane was to travel? Fair? Thoughts/comments are appreciated!
Here is a couple quotes, once the research team gets the final paper done we will be uploading it to a research journal, I will be sure to share the link:
“How do you tie these measurements to the actual business? And, because, you know, you’re not, Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, and measurements suggests that I have one million fans, or my video got 10 million views – I mean it’s exciting for the social media team, but what business value are 10 million view, or how they advance?”
“So, this [measuring value & ROI of social media] is one area I think where, it gets kind of different. And, I’ll tell you; the dashboard that I’ve been using has changed, quite significantly in just the past 6 months. I mean initially it was, you know, just things like followers and fans.”
“We’re also playing with, and I don’t know if it’s perfect yet – for things like Twitter, we’re looking at services like Klout, they’ve got some sort of methodology in the background, and analytics in the background, where they’re trying to compare you versus others. And again, you know, it’s a third party kind of endorsement of, of what they call their online, online influence. So we’ll use something like Klout as, as one of the KPI’s for Twitter, to show, you know, what is our Klout rank versus our competitors.”
“Well, I think, you know, when we’re talkin’ about metrics, I think that we can get a little too, immersed in them. I’m not a big metrics guy. My boss is not a big metrics guy either. But the metrics are important to getting those people that I told you who are, you know, lukewarm about social media, because that’s how they think. You know, social media is not necessarily numbers and figures and stats, it’s, it’s about the human relationships, and those things that you can build on that don’t require numbers, and stats and figures.”
The interviews have been really interesting to go back and read through. What I have seen from the interviews is that defining metrics and key performance indicators for your social media program is awfully challenging. It’s very easy to get a lot data and information, but what I noticed from the interviews, the real challenge is finding the right metric to report up the chain to express value. A lot of the organizations were very forward thinking organizations and the social media directors operated in a very innovative and creative environment. Many interviewees also had the advantage off complete support by management. As you know, that’s not always the case.
One question I wished I had asked participants was, what do you believe would have happen if you never engaged in social media? It sounds like a silly question, but in terms of expressing value to upper management – I suspect we would have heard answers such as, “Well, we would never would have reached X amount of people, our article never would have been featured in X magazine, we never would have learned about how to improve our product, etc.” My next question would be, have you ever had that conversation with management? So, if you are ever interviewing a social media director, please ask that question and report back to me!
It’s been a fun paper to write and a lot of really interesting research- be great if you check out the full paper in a few weeks.