The truth about social media

By | May 25, 2012
Excellent post from +Mike Elgan rebuffing several key myths about social media. I would add two additional myths that annoy me considerably in how companies tend to treat social networks:

1. Social media ROI is quantifiable.
Metrics makers claim that everything can be converted into a good, reliable set of metrics that can in turn be converted into expected increase in revenues. Yet I'm not convinced that there is a good metric for social media engagement yet. What would you measure? You could create a Klout-like 'engagement' metric, perhaps based on number of reactions and how long comments are, as well as influence of commenter… Or perhaps even the number of 'positive' words used in the comments… but that still is very difficult to translate into a revenue number. Or does someone have a good metric that i'm just not aware of?

2. Social networks are a great dissemination channel.
Yes, to some extent social networks is used for broadcasting information. But that alone as the purpose of using it is like using a blog to post short twitter-style updates on whether it is sunny or rainy: it misses the effectiveness of the platform. Social networks are a gossip hole – it is where communities of people discuss various things together. Engagement means discussion, not 'liking' – just as town gossippers trade gossip, not just lurk and nod in agreement. So networks are primarily an engagement tool, not a broadcast tool, and needs to be treated as such.

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The 10 Biggest Social Media Lies – Datamation
Forget what you know about Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The truth doesn’t match the myths.

One thought on “The truth about social media

  1. Michael Kelly

    +Sophie Wrobel The last report I read on Social Media was the State of Social Commerce by Forrester (done in July of 2011). In that report it seemed to imply that the metrics are all over the board.

    Also the numbers in the study "State of Online Retailing" seems to point to numbers all over map. (Small sample size, 68 retailers or so)

    Worse, I have seen Forrester studies showing that a majority of the companies investing in social networking are not recovering ROI (out of a survey of midmarket retailers)

    That was a year ago. Can you point me to some studies that show companies in the aggregate gaining sales from it vs alternate spend options for marketing/sales?

    I know from my own experience of the over 500 top commerce companies I spoke with, 200+ were having serious challenges with it.

    ( I do agree with point #2. The magic of social media seems to be the ability to empower others to carry your flag for you, building visibility for your brand and sharing your strengths with others that might do business with you. I just see it used more like an alternate form of broadcast media than as a tool to do this because a lot of companies fear "losing control of their brand")


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