Analytics is killing social media

by jeffhilimire on April 1, 2010

Analytics, you can’t live with it, you can’t live without it

I have a love/hate relationship with analytics.  It’s always been the best and worst part of digital marketing.  The best in that you can measure results to a far greater extent than with non-digital campaigns.  You can tweak and adjust on the fly and improve your results mid-stream.  The worst in that non-digital campaigns still make up 85% of budgets and they never have to prove anything (for the most part)!

And now, analytics is killing social media.  Or at least choking it to death.

In the meantime, social is strangling email marketing

This week I was on a panel at the Integrated Marketing Summit in Atlanta. It was a debate format and the title of our session was, “Can email and social live happily ever after?”  My main point on that topic was that social is making lazy email marketers even lazier, because now they are distracted by this thing called “social” so they’ve got their already-ROI-proven email campaigns on auto-pilot.  So in a way, social is killing off email.  But that’s beside the point (though I’m happy to debate that if anyone is interested).  – UPDATE: Since this seemed like it had its own legs, I moved this debate to a new blog post.

On this panel I got on a rant – no idea how, though I’m prone to random ranting – about the lack of an ability to measure social media.  How do you measure word-of-mouth (WOM)?  Easy, you can’t.  You can try and there are services you can use that get you fractions of the way there, but you can’t really measure WOM.  And even though its digital, you can’t measure digital WOM either.

Social is word-of-mouth on digital steroids

I asked the audience a hypothetical question.  Would they rather a) get one click from an email campaign or b) one person telling another person how great their product is?  Obviously everyone chose b.  I upped the ante, “10 clicks” vs. one recommendation.  Still overwhelmingly the one recommendation won out.  Where does it end? 100 clicks?  1,000 clicks?

I’ll tell you where it ends.  Right at the point where marketers tell their boss that they want to increase their already measly social budget.  “Where’s the ROI?  How will I know if its working?  I need to see analytics that show me that this increase is going to be profitable for us!”  Yikes.

There are so many things wrong with that, the least of which is that your boss spends most of her budget on TELEVISION!  Try measuring THAT!  Oh, but its non-digital, remember?  You don’t have to measure it, that’s just what we’ve always done and gosh darn it, it works.

Social is so much more than clicks and impressions

Social allows the most effective form of marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, to happen on a digital, global, limitless scale.  You can’t measure that, not today anyway.  The way we’ll see this played out is the companies that invest in social without having to prove out a direct ROI plan (ex: Pepsi Refresh), those companies are going to come flying out of this recession with a momentum that is almost unstoppable.

The next time your boss tells you that social isn’t in the plan because it doesn’t get high enough conversion rates, pose the “click vs. personal recommendation” question.  Might just open her eyes a little.

Send to Kindle
  • Pingback: Debate: Social is killing off email

  • simmsjenkins

    “they’ve got their already-ROI-proven email campaigns on auto-pilot. So in a way, social is killing off email.”

    Oh Jeff -are you baiting me again? I thought we cleared up your head during the IMS panel where email was declared “digital heavyweight champion of the web” and social was awarded “most fun.”

    Um, so email is a proven revenue generator (among other things) but because the CMO is asking “about the Twitter and Facebook” email is being murdered by social?

    You gotta do better than that logic if you are going to lob another anti-email grenade out there.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    Moved this discussion here: http://jeffhilimire.com/2010/04/debate-social-i

  • http://www.sysomos.com/ Mark Evans

    Jeff,

    Interesting post but there's definitely a place for analytics within social media as a way to get insight and information from all the conversations taking place. At the same time, analytics is just one part of the social media ecosystem along with participation, engagement and relationship-building. There's room for all of it.

    Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.
    @sysomos

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    I couldn't agree more that analytics and measurement is a very important aspect of social.

    My point is that what you can't measure is the true impact of social on a brand. Here's an example. I'm currently writing this from a Chick-fil-A (free wifi, thanks!) and a server just came up and asked if I wanted a refill of coffee and if there was anything else he could get for me. Now imagine if the owner of that Chick-fil-A said at his next staff meeting,”You guys are only allowed to see if customers need anything else if you can prove to me that they'll buy more from us down the road because of that.”

    It might sound far fetched, but that's exactly what is expected of digital marketing. We are pushed to prove everything because the mentality is that we can. And social can do far more for building a long-term relationship with a customer than any other form of media. But if we can only get funding for social by proving the long-term benefits, then we're going to be greatly limiting its potential.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    I couldn't agree more that analytics and measurement is a very important aspect of social.

    My point is that what you can't measure is the true impact of social on a brand. Here's an example. I'm currently writing this from a Chick-fil-A (free wifi, thanks!) and a server just came up and asked if I wanted a refill of coffee and if there was anything else he could get for me. Now imagine if the owner of that Chick-fil-A said at his next staff meeting,”You guys are only allowed to see if customers need anything else if you can prove to me that they'll buy more from us down the road because of that.”

    It might sound far fetched, but that's exactly what is expected of digital marketing. We are pushed to prove everything because the mentality is that we can. And social can do far more for building a long-term relationship with a customer than any other form of media. But if we can only get funding for social by proving the long-term benefits, then we're going to be greatly limiting its potential.

  • Pingback: Engauge Blog

Previous post:

Next post: