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What is the measurable goal of social media?

October 19, 2011

For the sake of this argument, pretend that by ‘social media‘ I mean a Facebook page.

The question is much more straight forward: on the Facebook page, what should you measure?

Loyalty? Fandom? Potential purchase? Purchase? Community?

Measurement is an interesting topic for a couple of reasons.

What are we measuring?

Lets take a step back and look at the 30-second TV spot. Without secondary research from a research company, marketers cannot measure the effectiveness of a 30-second spot. Yes, they can track a whole host of things like brand likability, potential purchase, or even sales. Indeed, one of the critiques often thrown at the Old Spice commercials was it didn’t move more product.

In spite of the fact that TV is hard to measure, we agree it is necessary. When Pepsi stopped doing TV, they lost the number two cola spot to Diet Coke. That might not be a directly related cause and effect, but it sure made the people at Pepsi start doing 30-second spots.

Social media is on the internet, so it MUST be measured.

When social media first came along, the way to dismiss it was simple: does it sell product? Can it be measured? Without measurement, people said dismissively, it isn’t proper marketing. On the internet, there’s an expectation of ‘clicks’. Clicks are so measurable down to the person that we MUST measure them.

To prove that the interent ‘worked’, marketers measured clicks as if they were GRP’s. They were called ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and ‘views’, but they were clicks and the more clicks that came into the marketing funnel, the more product that would be sold. Get a million fans and some well-thought out percentage of them will buy the product.

I remember one Facebook page that we managed that had almost 100,000 fans in 4 months, but the only thing the person in charge wanted was feet in the store. We tried to tell him what you’re saying that these people are already your best customers, and we should organize around building them into a community. Instead, we did in-store tests whereby one got a free fountain drink between 5-7 pm at one location for saying Facebook.

The point. 

I’m not saying social media is like TV. I am saying that it isn’t like traditional internet marketing. It isn’t an e-mail blast or a banner ad. It is fundamentally different – like TV is different from Direct Mail.

Social media is about building a community of the best customers. People who have tried the product, and like it. It can be about amassing a community of fans for a whole host of reasons. Getting them to buy product is the reason we do everything we do. But it doesn’t have to be the measurable outcome because they already buy product. That is what being a fan means.

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