Chinwag Measuring Social Media

Yesterday I attended the Chinwag.com event “measuring social media” chaired by Jim Sterne of Web Analytics Association with a panel comprising of:

Alex Burmaster – European Internet Analyst, Nielsen Online

Alex did a fair amount of pitching to begin with, and to be frank didn’t really give too much insight into what Social Media actually is. He enthused a great deal on how Nielsen has tools for measuring online conversations but lacked any real solutions for the crowd, he warmed up towards the end.

Robin Grant – Client Services Director, 1000heads

Robin started reasonably well and enthused on the power of Social Media although again didn’t really give any big insights to what it actually is and how you can use it. Little too much assuming I thought, although certainly a fan of Social Media.

Will McInnes – MD, Nixon McInnes

Will was the “gem” on the panel for me, he told it straight by stating “humans are slow and computers are dumb” (or was it the other way around?). Anyway he was basically stating that we cannot measure conversations, you cannot apply numbers to people’s emotions and cannot readily understand a conversation with a metric. I have to agree to some extent. Read more on his blog

Ankur Shah – Co-founder, Techlightenment

This guy was also enthusing well and was also “bigging up” the use of their Socialistics programme, based on collection of data for analysis.

I’ll state up front that I didn’t learn anything new from this event, ok sure it was great to network and meet new people, and some old friends, but in terms of the panel content I learnt nothing.

Why is this?

I think this is two-fold, firstly I am neck-deep in Social Media myself, much of that stems from running a virtual company for 8 years, I have had to build virtual communities and use social tools to engage with that community. Therefore I know first-hand what is needed, what talents and skills are appropriate and what works or doesn’t work. I’d say I was just as knowledgeable as anyone on the panel, certainly in terms of experience.

Secondly, the panel assumed that everyone in the audience knew what Social Media is, how it operates, what you need to do to get it to work for you. However, given that the majority of the audience were in fact PR agencies, I can tell you I am convinced that not a great deal of people do actually know what Social Media is, or more specifically how it can operate and work. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, or expert-like, I’m just saying this is not new to mew.

One of most poignant questions of the evening was put by the Chair who asked “if you were given the job of Social Media Marketing Manager for Vauxhall, what’s the first thing you need to do?”. I immediately twittered this question and got the following answers:

@audio – Hi Chris, my first tool would be ears to listen. 🙂
Samantha_Grant at 18-02-2008 20:15

@audio demographics on target market and their media habits.
injenuity at 18-02-2008 20:07

@audio a thick skin?
GJD at 18-02-2008 20:02

@audio a super-high speed internet connection and great computer?
TamK at 18-02-2008 20:00

I like a lot of those tweets, and thank you for them because you proved my point. My answer to the question was simply “build a community and call them to action”.

It sounds simple when you look at it in print, but not one person mentioned that very important fact, in fact the very cornerstone of Social Media. Now regarding how to derive a metric from your community, I’m not sure about. Perhaps a call to action on a vote, an act, will in fact yield a metric. For example if 25% of my Social Media community act on a call to action, I do in fact have a metric, numbers, something for the CEO to consider. I know that’s not measuring engagement, connection, depth of experience, blah blah … but it is a number which CEOs “get”.

The dialogue went onto asking if we need an open source form of social media metrics, some kind of industry standard that we can all work towards, personally I’m not convinced of that either, but I could be persuaded.

I think to sum-up Social Media is currently a buzz-phrase, I’ve been socialising with my prospects for years, it’s not suddenly something new to me, though I understand it is for the traditional advertisers of this world. I also think that the strength of Social Media in terms of advertising will be the ability to extract highly detailed profiles of people in “the community”. Taking Facebook as an example, if the platform is sexy enough people will tell you “everything” about themselves.

Once we have highly detailed profiles of prospects we will be able to sell that data to be used to target individuals with specific information we know they will be pleased to hear about. This goes back to my argument around the Android Pocket Spy.

Of course the further we delve into asking our community to put forward detailed information about themselves the further down the privacy road we stumble.

Will you mind being profiled so deeply? Will you enjoy receiving targeted SMS notes about products in you geo area? It will come, believe me.

About The Author

Chris Hambly

I teach how to leverage the Internet for building a business and generating income. I went from the kitchen table to selling my first online business for half a million dollars, ($500,000). I'd like to show you how you can do this too. Sign up for free lessons, I'll send a video right away.