Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Social media results: Are you using the wrong lens?

While we're all adjusting to communicating in a social-media world, I'm hearing all sorts of out-of-focus views expressed about the results people are seeing.  If you're impatient for instant success, making assumptions about where your audiences can be found, or pushing numbers over concrete understanding, you may be using the wrong lens when looking at your measurement.  Here are some questions and perspectives to help you refocus:

  1. Are you pushing social networks to the fringe when they're front and center?  In Twitter not going mainstream? Correct, it already IS mainstream, a Forrester analyst reminds us that Twitter--with 145 million users and "only" 29 million new users every month--is as or more "mainstream," by the numbers, than such stalwarts as the New York Times, American Idol and blockbuster movies, based on their monthly numbers.  And tweets on Twitter grew 33 percent over the summer of 2010--which mainstream media outlet did that?  (Despite that, you may not want to use Twitter any more than you might have had the goal of becoming "a household word" back in the day.)
  2. Do you know the meaning behind the number of people following you?  That rough count only measures your potential, not your success. The litmus test you should be using:  What followers do with you on social networks. Going beyond social media reach notes we "collect humans like marbles" when we get all about the follower count.  Instead, this post prompts you to measure for "relevant reach," based on actions taken by followers. Which begs the question: What is it that you want those fans and followers to do?
  3. Are you using the data as a path to understanding the variety in your audience?   Audiences aren't monolithic. If there's anything we've learned from the explosion of self-publishing on the web, it's that audiences want more variety, not less. So when you're looking at your social media results, make sure the data you're collecting can tell you more about reader and follower preferences. Hang on to those areas of variance. Here, the New York Times offers a look at how newspapers are shifting their tracking and analysis of readers' preferences, with some lessons you may be able to borrow.
  4. If all you can see is the big ponds in social media, start looking for some puddles. Dave Fleet gets in on the front end of measurement, and looks at whether we should evolve how we target social media. His goal? To get you to stop saying things like "“One in three of our target audience is using Facebook. So, we recommend creating a Facebook page for this program.”

If your perspective is really out of whack, Chris Brogan flips this question and looks at numbers that matter, and most of them have nothing to do with your metrics.  What are you measuring in your social media results?

I offer communications and social media strategy consultation; content development; and training in public speaking, social media and related skills--and I welcome your referrals, at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

Check out don't get caught on Facebook, where I'm floating ideas and discussing them before they appear on the blog.  It's shaping up as a great networking community for communicators.

New here? Find out how to subscribe to the blog and my free monthly newsletter, where an early version of this post was shared with subscribers.

No comments: