Social Media Marketing: We need to measure it! (or do we not?)

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Social Media Marketing has received centre stage in most of today’s marketer’s planning plateau, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube etc. Not is it without a day passed without a mentioned of them.

Marketers are curious about this ‘new’ media channel, proponents of it highlight its strong ability in improving the bottom line. Well to be honest, it’s really not a surprise, given that that many studies depict a sense of positivism in it. For example, TNS USA study in 2007 found the following…

“if you had 15 minutes of free time…”

1. 17% Social networking
2. 17% Talk on Cell
3. 14% Watch tV
4. 10% Surf the internet etc.

and Forrestor Research’s highly positive report on social media. For more information please view my previous entry found here.

If these numbers hold water, it definitely paints a picture that social media networking is a force to be reckon with and companies should engage them, afterall one of marketer’s many tasks is to seek customer engagement though many of the touch points available at its disposal.

However the reality is social media marketing is something of a black box, marketers inject programs into the black box and cross their fingers at the output. Though we appreciate the art of it, there should be some science involved to track. After all in the boardroom, numbers do the talking and in addition, there has been a saying, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.

If this mantra is true, does this really hold water in the social media networking or marketing world? Well maybe, well maybe not. I do not know. But what I can offer is if we were to approach the measurement, we could perhaps look at alternatives – after all there is no such thing as a one off solution, no?

Perhaps the standard quantitative notions of approach to analyzing data (bounce rate, CTR, regression, path analysis etc) may be cast aside for qualitative methods? afterall social being social requires the need for verbal and face checks, no? or perhaps we should just get companies to state their objectives and we just track certain metrics. Do we really need to measure it? that is the question. Or shall we just let social media play its role and just cross our fingers and hopefully the spread of it is positive and will correlate positively with profitability and hope that we can control the spread if its negative.

Well what are your thoughts? I’m keen on hearing them.

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