The interesting part of this session was the quasi-total lack of discussion about metrics for social media. My read is that it's not the panelist's fault, it's just the current state of social media. Also, much of social media cannot be measured quantitavely, but rather qualitatively based on your business objectives. Note: see also the update towards the bottom of this blog post.
Live blogging the Social Media Metrics panel at SXSW.
Tom Parish CEO Tom Parish Inc
Brian Magierski Chief Dev Officer BSG Alliance Corporation
Michael Smith Exec Dir USAA
Ynema Mangum Exec Producer BMC Software Inc
Rohit Bhargava SVP, Digital Marketing Ogilvy
Panel Presentation and Discussion
- Why are CMO's afraid of social media and social networking?
Rohit: There may be two reasons, the first being "loss of control", the other being the measurement question. Managers have a hard time moving from impressions to engagement. Would you rather have a million impressions that no one paid attention to or getting the "right 10,000 people".
Michael: Each senior officer has a map of risks in their mind regarding social media. The CMO is worried about a brand out of control. The Senior HR person is worried about losing people. For the PR guy, social media is either largest friend or foe. If it goes out of control, it's a foe. The Sales exec won't care if it has no impact on sales. The CEO looks at it this way: "If we don't do anything, will it come back to hurt me."
Brian: The old paradigm was about controlling the message. The new one is about openness, and this is the way that companies will compete in the future. But the problem is, if companies do it now, they will probably have a bad experience. This is because companies are delivering a poor customer experience, and the CXO's know it.
- How can companies leverage social media for marketing success when they have no experience?
Ynema: The priority is to get the executive involved in social media; it's not enough they're excited about it, they actually have to do it. But when senor execs do get involved, it's a good lever to use to build community.
- Is it important to self-assess your readiness for social media?
Brian: Companies can't jump straight into social media and have any credibility, they need to take a phased approach. The first step is listening, the second step is engaging, the third one is creating a platform for thei customers to socialize on.
Ynema: You have to be confident about your product or service before diving into conversation marketing.
- What metrics do you use to evaluate the progress of social media programs?
Michael: For PR firms, you can have metrics. For example, blog metrics, community participation metrics, and metrics that articulate the value you get from different channels, like from email. It turns out that community management yielded the best metrics, because of the close engagement and conversations on social media platfroms.
Rohit: It's not the lack of ability of measuring things, it's knowing the value of things that can be measured.
Tom: There's are obvious differences between BtoC and BtoB sales, and the longer the lifecycle, the harded it is to identify the factors that led to the sale. Maybe the customer based a decision after months of reading a blog, but it would be hard to know this.
*Update: this Meebo chat transcript of the panel highlights the problems of this session:
16:29 metrics are not as dry as this panel is
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Do you see this indecisive stage as a tipping point, where social media enticements and value are emerging but with risks/unknowns attached while well established practices lose ground but are retained because they are familiar, entrenched, and still working at some level?
Posted by: Milton Friesen | Mar 10, 2008 12:49:55 PM
Mitlon, I agree with you and you've identified the current state of transition. I think another reason is due to education: people are unfamiliar with this new territory and need to learn and see how to apply concepts into practice by learning from examples.
Posted by: Alex | Mar 10, 2008 4:12:30 PM
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