Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Identifying and Measuring Social Media Behaviors - Part 1

One of my students just linked to Rick Liebling’s “Periodic Table of the Social Media Elements” post on our class blog. Thanks, Scott! That adds another perspective to Overdrive Marketing’s Social Media Map, Brian Solis's Conversation Tools, about which I've written before, and Robert Scoble’s Social Media Starfish, which I use in the social media course. They’re all useful to those of us trying to keep track of the social media landscape.

Look up periodic table in Wikipedia if you need to—I did. However, I was especially interested in the list of social media behaviors:

Sh = Share
Mt = Monitor
Fr = Friend
Cv = Converse
Cu = Customize
Li = Listen
En = Engage
Di = Dialogue

I tried to do the same thing recently with both a premise and a context in mind. The rather simple-minded premise is that marketers are using social media in order to get people to do something, either in the social medium itself or by driving them to the business’s website. I say that having seen the many studies that show that marketers believe they are using social media for branding purposes. I don’t deny the usefulness of social media in branding. However, the context is one in which there are multiple types of marketing/branding effort--both online and offline, both Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 efforts.

Again, a simple-minded argument. Corporate (or non-profit) social media programs should be measured only in terms of behaviors that can be directly traced to the program. Using marketing research to try to tease out the effects of online/offline, 1.0/2.0 may be necessary from time to time at the corporate marketing level, but it makes no sense try to measure the branding effects of single social media efforts. It costs too much and by the time results become available the world has moved on.

That perspective makes it possible to separate behaviors that take place in the social ecosphere from those that take place after the person has reached the website. This is my list, similar to Rick Liebling’s, but not quite the same:

Behaviors in the social ecosphere:
Number of visits, impressions (eyeball measures)
Friends, fans, favs (followers of all kinds)
Install apps (widgets, etc.) offered
Click through to website
Pages: how much time spent, “heat maps” for content, etc.
Video: watched, partly/completely
Share content
Promote content (Digg, Reddit, etc.)
Number of incoming links

Behaviors on the website
Number of referrals from social media sites
Register for site services
Download—white papers, videos, podcasts, etc.
Rate products
Other content cocreation (photos, videos, written content, etc.)

All the behaviors on the website have the usual metrics problem of multiple visits and the necessity for behavioral tracking to determine, for each conversion, whether the initial referral was from a social media site. That takes some effort, but it’s actually much easier than it was in the world of mass media.

And that’s where I was going with all of this. I’ve been trying to organize the complexity of social media metrics into some sort of coherent framework for my students. I’ll share that effort with you tomorrow.

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