“The numbers don’t lie.” This is a phrase I have heard often since @lindsaykap joined The Social Media Dream Team. How true, how true, BUT … it depends what numbers you look at!
Recently, I was asked to comment on a requirement from a RFP (request for proposal) looking for measurement of “brand vitality.” No surprise, some of the parameters that were required for input included uniques per month (on the brand dot com), number of Twitter followers, and number of Facebook fans. The information requested shows an incomplete part of the story. Yes, everyone wants to know how many followers and fans you have, but what is really important from a marketing and social media perspective is how much your content is consumed and shared.
Having 1M followers is an impressive number, but that does not mean a) your followers get your content or consume it, b) your content/updates are shared, and c) you have influence. There are different algorithms out there that measure “social reach”. (i.e. twinfluence) There are other parameters that are extremely important as well – number of retweets and the number of Twitter Lists that you are included in. If any one person is following 1K twitter accounts, how could they possible consume all the tweets from all those they are following? Addition in Twitter Lists and how the follower uses a Twitter client tell a much stronger story. (Not possible to capture twitter client usage, but lists – yes.)
Same scenario for Facebook – how many fans you have tells a part of the story. We were recently looking at Facebook data when we made some “best practice” changes to Facebook. Our small changes resulted in over 50% increase of unique visits back to one of our brand sites Facebook. But even more important than this, we saw over 150% increase of page views from the traffic from Facebook. The point here is not only the importance of user unique visit numbers, but their stickiness to our content. What I emphasize is not just getting an increase of fans (“likes” as it is now) or of visits, but an increase of visits from the right target audience. Now that shows brand vitality.
I also make it a point to stress the importance of relationships. So how do you measure relationships? You can measure engagements which is a key attribute of relationships. Some parameters that fall in this category include:
– Comments to articles and posts
– Comments to posted pictures
– Comments to posted videos
– Comments to livecasts
– Twitter – both mentions and retweets
– on Twitter
– on Facebook
We just launched two blogs on Tumblr. The parameters of importance there are not only followers, but notes/comments and reblog numbers as well. Other important social media areas of measurement include Digg, Delicious, and other bookmarks – is your content/brand marked for sharing – is it deemed worthy of sharing?
There are numerous social media monitoring tools that measure “authority” or “influence”. These vendors use their own proprietary algorithms that take into consideration such things as followers, text mentions, URL mentions, RSS feeds, subscribers, and other things. So when we talk about brand vitality, “social reach” needs to be included as well as the obvious things measured (fans, followers, etc) and Comscore/Omniture-like data.
So yes, “the numbers don’t lie” is absolutely correct. But what you measure and report may not tell the correct story. Be smart and proceed accordingly.
Make It Happen!