Social media measurement: flows, not message received

Posted on: September 21, 2009


Here we all are. Unable to influence the products we consume. Driven by marketing messages to buy obscure, over-priced products that we don’t need.

Or there we all were.

Social media means that marketing has to become about understanding the flow of messages, opinion, needs and desires between the consumer and those offering products and service. This involves organisations listening, adapting, showing willing and participating in meaningful interaction with those who have already experienced or purchased their product, those who may potentially become a new customer and various other internal and external stakeholders. 

So imagine my disappointment today when I clicked to learn more about ‘Measuring Social Media effectiveness,’ but found an opening declaration that:

Digital marketing technology has two main pillars: delivering a message and measuring the effectiveness of that message.

Rob Taylor further reassures the reader that:

It took a long time to agree on the offline Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) metric, but its success shows that it can be done.

What struck me about the tone of this article was the idea that somehow boiling down the vast flows of ideas and opinion generated by social media into a metric can allow one to measure along a stick, linearly. Of course, I cannot disagree with the sentiment that it would be incredibly useful for marketers to be able to view the vast swathe of data being produced on all these platforms in one place. However limiting what is being measured to the consideration of how a ‘message’ is being ‘received’ or even lost fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the many-to-many social media landscape. Products must be the change their consumers wish to see in the world, or people simply will not buy them. 

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