Is social media measurement really meaningless?

I’ve been reading and re-reading this article over the past few days and trying to fully understand Amy Kean of the IAB’s point of view who argues the ‘Yes’ side of the debate that social media measurement is indeed meaningless. I can understand her point of view but I’m of the ilk that believe in a different kind of measurement and that adopting the traditional ideologies of past successes is akin to putting a square peg in a round hole. I’ve said before that although ROI will always have its place (everyone will always wants to get the most bang from their buck), ROA (Return on Attention) will grow in importance in social media. You’re still getting a return on investment but in a different way.

Back to the article, the busker analogy doesn’t really work for me when comparing thumbs up to positive buzz and great reviews for a company. They aren’t directly comparable. For someone to go out of their way to generate positive buzz on a brands behalf or give a product a great review, there is value in that. Time spent plus insights provided, that’s definite value. Research also states that their message often has more impact than paid for marketing and communications.

It may not be in the traditional marketing sense of what ‘value’ is but for me, social media requires new metrics and benchmarks than to what has been tried and tested in years previous. Success now looks different. Instead of looking purely from a numbers perspective and at additional sales, is there value in increased levels of brand perception and awareness, along with the conversations and connections made because of the company activity? It’s intangible yet it’s still valuable.

Amy says that most senior management simply don’t understand it. While this may be a sweeping generalization across the board, there is some truth in it. This for me is where the paradigm of business control is changing. This won’t be for everyone, only the ones who are open to change, evolution and welcome new blood taking their company forward and in a new direction. The MD’s, the board members, all the ladies and gents high up who have been used to knowing everything they need to in order to take their business forward, are now bringing in new talent to change the culture, operations and future of the company. The MD will still be the MD but he/she has realised that a new set of skills is required for the ever changing business environment.  Edit – I had previously mentioned about Jean Wyllie leaving PN but as Kerry notes in the comments below this was out of context, my apologies.

Back to the article again, social media isn’t about directly increasing sales over a finite period. It’s more longer term than that, investing in and developing relationships. Potentially fruitful relationships that are seen to have a direct effect maybe not in sales but in other benchmarks like buzz / word of mouth. Let’s take the recent collaboration between BitchBuzz and Magners UK.

If you hadn’t heard about it, Magners UK decided to give away a case of its pear cider every day for a week on BitchBuzz. The target audience and the product was a perfect fit. The competition was cleverly integrated with Facebook Connect and as a result of the week long campaign, delivered approx 100 new fans to the Magners UK Facebook page every day for the duration of the campaign. They achieved over 8 times the fan conversion they had when supporting the giveaways based on engagement on Twitter and Facebook alone. Their objectives were simple, to build the community. The competition accounted for almost 40% of total Facebook fans.

Can you put a traditional value on that? No. What was the ROI on that? I don’t know. Is it important? Yes.

Amy also says that part of the role of the IAB’s social media council is to educate the industry about the opportunities in this space. Yet she’s declaring measurement meaningless? Sounds more like discounting a discipline rather than educating about it.

Will, Robin, Stephen, David and Drew what do you think? Is social media measurement meaningless? They are all much more knowledgable and experienced in this world than I am, so would be great to get their take on it all. Oh and feel free to disagree entirely if you think otherwise, interested to hear from other perspectives.

Say Yes To Safe Sex with MTV, Spotify and The Body Shop

It’s been an exciting week at work, working with MTV’s HIV / Aids awareness charity in collaboration with Spotify, to promote safe sex through music. So far, some brilliant MTV presenters and music artists have taken part, including Gym Class Heroes, Stereophonics and V V Brown.

Other contributors include some of the best in the business online including the global celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, the guys at Hecklerspray, TechFluff.TV host Hermione Way and Cate Sevilla from BitchBuzz. They have all created their very own ‘Play Safe’ playlists of ten tracks each – basically, music for loving! Many more are to come also, so keep checking back with the Yes Yes Yes blog. Tantalising Lip Butter

Why are we getting involved? For very good reasons. There are 33 million people living with AIDS and HIV, a number that is increasing each day. As part of the campaign MTV and The Body Shop are also joining forces to raise cash for the Staying Alive Foundation – a charity which raises money for health education and awareness projects in the UK and overseas. A new fundraising Tantalising Lip Butter (RRP: £5.00) is now on sale in The Body Shop stores internationally and online in the UK with nearly £4 per pot sold going to help fund sex education work and save lives.

It’s all being supported online with the official site Yestosafesex.com, a blog and pages on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. The good people at Spotify led by PR head Sophia Bendz have also kindly contributed ad inventory to the cause so keep an eye out for the related ads on the service!

Here’s the chance for you to get involved too

If you’ve got Spotify then you can simply email / DM the HTTP link to your ‘Play Safe’ playlist once you’ve done it. SpotifyDon’t worry if you haven’t got Spotify yet, you can either download it here or alternatively, simply email your 10 tracks for loving and we’ll do the rest! We’d love to see all your blog posts about why you chose the tracks you did!

My Spotify Play Safe Playlist looks a little like this.. LitmanLive Loves You!

(Clicking the link above will take you directly to Spotify, I’ll update this post with my entry when it gets uploaded to the Yes Yes Yes blog.)

EDIT – Here it is – Clicky

Love Gun – Kiss
Hounds of Love – Kate Bush
Baby Love – The Supremes
What Is Love – Haddaway
This Years Love – David Gray
Do You Love Me? – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Digital Love – Daft Punk
Let Love Rule – Lenny Kravitz
Bleeding Love – The Wombats
Streets of Love – The Rolling Stones

What will yours look like?

I’m going to tag Chris, Jed, Tom, Lolly and Jaz, as I’d love to hear what their playlist would sound like.

Think you’ve got a great soundtrack for loving? Well, why not create it, blog it and share it with us!