Posted October 26, 2007 4:40 pm by with 5 comments

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How to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

Gary Goldhammer, Edelman Interactive

The hidden reality: there is no way right to measure social media. We’re all figuring this out. Nielsen is measuring time spent, interactions.

We respect what has happened—things that are visible, tangible. We honor the established solutions.

But we ignore the things that could have happened. We need to look beyond. That’s where innovation thrives. It thrives in the places that aren’t visible, aren’t tangible. We like to rely on others to write the case studies for us.

Low predictability = large impact

Forget everything that you know. Put it out of your mind. What you know about communications is irrelevant and insignificant compared to what social media has to offer. What you absolutely know about communications is a barrier to social media. The past is not always significant. What we know is less significant than what we don’t know.

Story—turkey and a farmer. Every day, the farmer feeds it, the turkey likes its life. 1000 days over and over again. Day 1001, farmer feeds the turkey—and kills it. How much of that could the turkey have predicted? Everything he knew about human behavior told him that wouldn’t happen. That whole time he never looked beyond, never looked at that possibility. MSM is the first 1000 days. Today is day 1001—so, watch your necks and don’t be a turkey!

Today is the day you need to look beyond what has happened. You need to look for things that could have happened, because that’s where it’s going.

Before: Containers, compartmentalized one message pushed out and bundled together.
The big bang: inputs, a series of events driven by technological & social aspects
Output: power is distributed, innovation becomes a bottom-up deal.

Graph of media today—RSS at center. Communication, sharing, ordinary people writing the news. Multiple channels as opposed to a single, controlled channel.

This is the “new normal” (the world of social media). This is how people are talking—using mobile phones, co-creators, share content, put it on their own site or in their network. Shared contacts. Blogs are software. What you do with it makes is a “blog” or not. A blog is nothing unless people are actually sharing it and moving it along.

Because of this explosion of social media, people are connecting on not just on a demographic level, but on a psychographic level—with people that have a psychological connection. Wherever people are, that’s where your content needs to be.

Conversations and connections.
The job of a brand now is to connect people to each other (instead of connecting a brand to an individual). The better the connection, the better the association with your brand.

It used to be a very push/message-oriented medium—social media has taught us that media is a conversation. Both are needed. Things don’t go away, they grow and change. We like to measure hits, traffic, impressions. But in SMM, we have to measure the relationships, the depths of relationships, the reactions. 10 people who can influence the New York Times et al. is better than 1000 people visiting your blog.

Of course, this requires a lot of targeting, understanding.

Really, this has nothing to do with technology—this is about a cultural shift. This is about humans, how people interact. This is about sociology.

Technology is the heart… (can’t live without it) . . . but conversation is the soul.

A blog is about what kind of conversations & connections you want to make.

Case Studies—Social Media in Action: Hit or Miss?
AmEX “members” project (not edelman client)

  • Social responsibility effort to do something good for the world. People shared ideas on projects (text, video, screen casts of Second Life, etc.). People could comment on them, add to them.

    • Judging panel selected 50, community then voted on top 50.
  • Hit or miss? Audience opinions: Hit: built community. Miss: didn’t benefit individuals enough, people are more selfish; relevance between product & campaign
    • Gary says: Hit. A lot of this is based on what AmEx decided was success for them. (We don’t know company goals).
    • Successful—7000 entries; actually increased the amount they were offering because they got such good ideas
    • Substantive. AmEx put its money where its mouth is
    • Collaborative. The program gave people the opportunity to really make a difference (“crowdsourcing”)—the thousands of comments and ideas too. Leveraged other media—TV & celebrities drove awareness & traffic to the site. It’s important not to forget other media.

  • Built a site with all kinds of original content for young male demographic, especially video (ex: Swear jar video). Could share, download, favorite, tag (using Delicious).
  • Hit or miss? Hit: endears you to the product, makes you laugh, people are sharing content (someone got it in an email, another sent it in an email).
    • Gary: Miss. Hugely (in the opinion of Budweiser)
    • Content wasn’t compelling enough to warrant going through the age verification hurdles (had to be 21 to use the site)
    • Similar unbranded content is freely available from other sources—over 5 million people watched the same video on YouTube.
    • Spent millions on Super Bowl spot for the site, hoped for 3 million visitors a month; got 250k a month the first month.
  • Lessons:
    • Need to go where people already are (and still make it portable)—don’t make them come to you. Maybe should have worked through YouTube instead?
    • Budweiser is retooling everything; dealing with Viacom, Comedy Central, to put their videos on their sites—where people already are.

Axe “Count your clicks” (Edelman client)

  • They had a musical journalist go on tour with Ludacris; set up a MySpace page for him. Gave away clickers, sweepstakes, etc.
  • Hit or miss? Hit: went to where they were, use of the regular guy (not just Ludacris); Miss: younger people don’t want advertised to in MySpace
    • Gary says: hit. >100M impressions, many many friends
  • What they did well:
    • Tapped in with spokesperson that resonated with the group
    • Engaged them where they lived/were
    • Established a direct dialogue with consumers and offered freebies (free clickers)
    • Exclusive, regularly updated content

Wal-Marting across America (Edelman client)
A couple, a freelance writer & a photographer, were going from AZ to the East coast to visit their kids (they weren’t married, but had lived together for decades). They decided to do it in an RV, and overnight park at Wal-Mart because it’s free. They were going to write articles for an RV publication about her trip. Contacted Working Families for Wal-Mart (a group set up by Edelman) for permission. They said, “That’s a great idea; we’ll pay for the gas, food, RV (branded!), redo your schedule, do it on a blog, and we’l pay you to write.”

  • Hit or miss? Duh. Miss. Outed by BusinessWeek.
  • Ultimate screwup: not being honest with the community—It was a real blog, but no one believes it was because they weren’t honest.
  • Response: Issued a mea culpa. Edelman took the fall. “I want to acknowledge our error in failing to be transparent about the identity of the two bloggers for the outset. This is 100% our responsibility and our error; not the client’s.” (Richard Edelman on his blog, 6 AM)
  • ”It’s not about transparency, it’s about authenticity and personality. It’s not seeing their receipts and menus; it’s knowing the truth about intent. People will find out if you’re not authentic online.”
  • Resolution: They’re working on a back-to-school campaign on Facebook with Wal-Mart. Most of the comments are about Wal-Mart’s union practices. He sees it as a success because Wal-Mart doesn’t take the negative, vicious comments down. If you took it down, people would think you weren’t being authentic.

Everybody wants it!! If someone tells you they can give you a viral video, they’re lying. Viral is the outcome; it’s not the strategy. You can do a strategy & create a video that has potential to go viral.

  • Okay, actually you can create a viral video:
  • Christina Aguiliera + Gandalf (White Wizard) + animals, preferably dog and cat together, if you can get a kitten, even better + dirt bikes, something messy + explosion. 10 million viral views guaranteed. (Slow motion also helps.)

Case Studies
Milwaukee’s Best Light campaign. Two guys created a beer cannon and made videos, seeing what you can destroy with a beer can. (ex: video of destroying china with beer can cannon)

  • Hit or miss? Miss: Wrong demographic, doesn’t show the product off
  • Gary: Hit by those measures. Over 2M people watched those videos—old way of measuring success. But during the 3 months of that campaign, Old Milwaukee lost 9% market share. The video’s message: our beer is so bad, we can throw it away like this.

Will it Blend? Example: blending a baseball.

  • Hit or miss? Hit: we’ve seen it around, something really different, showed off the product, incorporates audience—taking submissions on what will be blended
  • Gary: hit. It’s all about the product. Sales have gone up >50%, and the ads at the end of the videos pay for their marketing budget. (Some say the video doesn’t look “authentic,” but Gary basically says that’s part of its charm—the lab coat, etc.)

To improve your odds:

  • Know your audience
  • Connect people to each other
  • Create talk-worthy content
  • Be funny or creative
  • Don’t forget to sell the product
  • Engage the influencers
  • Charities and contests
  • Hit for average—maybe you only get 50k, but they’re the right 50 k

The “killer app” of the ‘90s was email. That was then . . . and now the “killer app” today—people. Us. We are the social media. The Internet itself is social media. This is what you need to incorporate to succeed. If you’re not incorporating this into your campaigns, you can’t succeed in social media.

Showed this video [that Andy posted last week (advertiser & consumer)]

So much for the old days

Q&A: What about subservient chicken? That doesn’t sell the product.

Gary adds Diet Coke/Mentos—these can have a huge effect. We talk about control, but this is one of the myths of social media because we don’t have any control. It’s a myth that we ever did. Sometimes that’s okay. The movie 300 was part of an underground graphic novel. It did okay at the box office. But fans of the graphic novel made their own trailers and scenes from the movie. (Look for 300 on YouTube.) There was a passionate fanbase. Warner Bros started, where they linked to all videos, celebrating the fans that did that for them. They wrapped themselves around this community. They took something that wasn’t necessarily selling their product & tap into that (not necessarily the message they wanted, but they had created an emotional attachment).

Hijacking the brand evangelists.

  • Great summary – nice highlighting! 😉

  • That was insightful and informative. Specially liked the bit about “Technology is the heart… (can’t live without it) . . . but conversation is the soul.” That is so true and which is why word of mouth is such a valuable resource what marketers look to exploit.

  • All wisdom, including business wisdom, is in retrospect. Business, like any other activity say like agriculture, is taking calculated risks. You take any action with four possible outcomes a) get exactly what you expected, b)get the opposite of what you expected, c)get more than you expected and d)get something totally different. you put in knowledge, skill and effort into the activity and usually, the fourth element chance, or providence or divine intervention, whatever you call it, is the one that gets you the outcome. The trick is in constantly renewing your knowledge and skill sets, assuming that your effort levels will not slacken, and keep moving. If, by following formulae we can win in any human endeavor, we would not see such high incidences of failure in all walks of life, including blogging.

  • I remember a press release coming out from xTrain where they mention all kinds of training for the typical kind of stuff you get in online training like web design and programming and graphics. But I was digging through the classes they offer and not only do the have classes on online marketing but they actually have social media classes. Can you recommend other places where I can find these kinds of classes on social media.

  • This is an informative and interesting post. My own experience is that sometimes audiences want to hear what they are prepared to hear. Whenever I am pitiching a business idea, I always have to be careful not to be too critical of the status quo to the extent that the audience becomes antagonistic. Working in the first aid kit [link removed] sector, I find that it is not always a web-focused business. People will have entreched practices and it si sometimes hard to get rid of habit.