Monday, 16 November 2009

Challenging old notions of value via social media

I hate the phrase social media.  I'd rather think about people.  People represent OTT  (opportunities to talk)  if we have to get back into media & evaluations terms. Conversations. Recommendations. Sharing. Suggestions.  Hugely influential.

There's lots of people like me scratching their heads and trying to crack a definitive measurement / value model for digital interactions with consumers in the digital space.  There's lots of things we can measure, and some we can't (yet) but one of the biggest challenges is relating direct cause and effect of money spent on initiatives in social spaces and sales uplift.  It's a tricky one. How do you qualify and quantify social influence to a client that's used to seeing x# TVR's (tv ratings) = y% sales uplift, and, rarely (and rightly) is digital / social media activity conducted in a vacuum.

Half the battle is getting clients to think about the longer term and get out of a campaign led mentality that only sees value in ££ and 6 week windows. Value in my mind means relationships, interactions, contributions, permission to engage in dialogue, reviews, all of which contribute to brand / product consideration sets and eventually sales. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in 3 or 6 months.  That's why the Aleksandr Orlov/Compare the Meerkat campaign is so brilliant. There are always people in the market for one insurance product or another. Stick to campaign phasing to raise awareness and you'll only ever capture the active prospects for that 4 week window of activity. Yet by being regularly visible and releant via social media you can achieve ongoing top of mind awareness.

Marketers also need to recognise that consumers will only talk about things when it's relevant to them and their lives. So your brand might have done something interesting, & engaged someone's attention but the glowing recommendation to a friend might not occur for 6 months. In my books that doesn't make it less valuable at all. Just harder to correlate and prove,  because the recommendation will no doubt have come about because of multiple stimuli that may have occurred on or offline.

There are a few "social media" success stories being touted around(apart from my meerkat mate), and I've just tripped over this round up of some of them. Take them for what they are, often supposition, and not spelled out, nor with details of what the objectives were but to stimulate thought it would be 4 minutes of your day well spent.  Then go and think about whether you are setting the right real objectives for your digital activities and therefore the right metrics.

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