The social media measurement quandary is one that has been around since the start of the social media age and will no doubt be around for as long as social media is. Measuring success of social media for businesses is not as easy a task as counting followers and friends although many would like you to think so. After all, that is the easiest metric to keep an eye on but even at this early stage in the game most marketers have deemed it marginal at best.
A study conducted by Vocus and Brian Solis was reported by eMarketer and found that marketers are already suspect of large numbers of followers and their true value. Better said, it is all about popularity vs. influence, with influence being the desired target of most marketers.
The new report from Vocus and FutureWorks principal Brian Solis throws a healthy dose of skepticism on the supposed correlation between popularity and influence. The report—provocatively titled “Influencer Grudge Match: Lady Gaga versus Bono”—surveyed 739 marketing and communications professionals who work with influencers to gauge their perceptions of what makes an influencer.
While the numbers pointed to more marketers seeing influencers with smaller groups of tightly connected friends being the more desirable target v. larger groups with loose or no connection (57% v. 44%) how they end up measuring success in campaigns falls back on quantity trumping quality. Presumably this is because it’s the easiest metric to obtain and is more objective (or is it?). The chart below bears this out.
OK marketers so what is this saying? You want to have your cake and eat it too but this is not congruent is it? Too often, the intent (what you like to provide for measurement) has little to do with the reality of marketing and social media.
Rather than just admitting that there is a gap in measuring effectiveness of social media and working to find ways to provide meaningful measures of success and / or failure, marketers turn to their Pavlovian response of giving people any measurement to prove their worth. Apparently, whether there is any relationship between the measurement and reality is secondary. That’s too bad because what is really at stake is the credibility of social media as an effective marketing tool and this does nothing to help, but plenty to hurt, the cause.
Oh well. What’s a marketer to do? Any thoughts?