by (vice SMC chair), Head of Buzz Metrics, nielsen
When something you don’t like reminds you of something you don’t like…
You know one thing I really don’t like? Sugar cubes. They really frustrate me. I mean, for something that is supposed to be so sweet and tasty, they are so annoying. Sugar cubes take forever to dissolve, and to speed up the process, I just keep stirring and stirring, making my drink cold. In addition, their form factor is supposed to be superior, but I don’t get it. I still have to use a spoon to take one and put it in my drink, just like granulated sugar. Also, there is no way to have a half a cube of sugar in my drink like there is with the other stuff. What is this post actually about, you ask? Well, I was at a meeting this week – stirring away – when I heard yet another major company talk about how they were ‘doing social media’ as they were ‘doing Facebook and Twitter.’ When I asked them why they were using these platforms, silence filled the room and puzzled expressions came across their faces.
You see, here is how many very well known companies seem to get involved in Social Media:
- First, an executive sees a presentation at an event, reads an article, or has a meeting with a consultant who talked about the Armageddon that is social media and the end of advertising models as we know them.
- This triggers a basic corporate reaction – the message flows downhill. This executive then turns to PR, Marketing, Brand, Research, etc. and tells them to put ‘Social Media’ on their list of objectives in 2010 and to go out and ‘do social media’.
- The final stage of this process includes the selected department determining that social media is Facebook and Twitter and therefore they launch a presence on these platforms.
Thus, when I ask them why they are doing this – i.e. what are their goals or objectives in using these platforms – they draw a blank. Social Media is a huge topic with so many activities, platforms, technologies, and aspects that it can overwhelm the most sophisticated and experienced business leader. The topic is so broad and vast, that trying to label or define it can become comical (just ask the IAB UK Social Media Council).
Rather than measure ‘social media,’ I believe companies should place much more emphasis on listening and using social media for strategy creation rather than jump right into execution or engagement. Listening and learning from this then can inform decisions to focus on destinations like Facebook and Twitter. Alternatively, companies and brands should look to define their objectives first, then determine if social media is a viable way to meet these objectives. For example, a brand may want to increase awareness, advocacy, retention, or churn, or decrease negative discussion and identify threats. A brand may want to begin to measure and treat each mention like an impression, something they are more familiar with measuring. Each of these components is much easier to breakdown into its individual parts and measure accurately and effectively. Otherwise, in my mind, social media measurement becomes as useful as a sugar cube.