Social Media Measurement: Dashboards vs GPS

Left Image: The dashboard in a car measures key health metrics, but the most important screen is the GPS, it tells me where I’m headed, where I am. and how to get there.

Yesterday, I attended Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit in the gorgeous Presidio (my family has history there, my Grandfather was a First LT in the Airforce in WW2 and spent much time there) and moderated a panel on one of my favorite topics: Social Media Measurement. On the panel I had Rob Crumpler, President and CEO, BuzzLogic, Avinash Kaushik, Author, Blogger, Analytics Evangelist, Google, Shahar Nechmad, Founder and CEO, NuConomy, and David Veneski, representing demand from the brands at Intel. These guys were smart.

Although I wasn’t there, apparently the first panel on this topic broke the rules on panels (pushing their products) and didn’t give the audience what they wanted, and we had a fiery conversation. Essentially, we pushed why measure, starting with questions to the brand side, as you may know Intel, a culture of engineers takes measurement very seriously, then learned about the different types of measurement from NuConomy’s X Engagement measurement, Google’s Web Analytics, and Buzz Logic’s Influence measurement style.

[Although Social Media Dashboards tell us key health readings, to be successful, brands need “GPS” to find out where are you headed, where are you now, and where are you going. Measure against an objective]

I questioned them to prove that their methdology was really going to help brands know if this triggered a true conversion all the way to buying cycle –they group could not prove it except with one off anecdotes. This is not a fault of the panel at all, but a major challenge with social media marketing –it’s generally unproven.

Also, FM (who have fielded some impressive campaigns) launched a brand new metrics dashboard called the Conversational Marketing Toolbox that aggregates data from many conversational sources (including Twitter) and was one of the first aggregated dashboards that I’ve seen out of the box, I certainly will take a closer look. I’ve seen the measurement dashboards of quite a few social media measurement companies, and have also advised large brands on how to configure their own dashboards internally, and I’ve noticed a trend across many of them.

Everyday we prescribe the POST methodology (someone published some slides), essentially, we want brands to have an actual objective before they set off and and experiment with social media tools. The same applies here:

The one piece of insight I provide them, and now you, is that social media measurement is like driving a modern car. You may have a dashboard with all the lights, toggles, gauges, and metrics, but remember, the most important piece of data to have in front of you is the GPS screen. The GPS screen indicates where you want to go (your objective), where are you now, and how to get there.

Update: Susan Etlinger has key quotes from the panel yesterday that she published from the Horn group blog, I enjoy how she stays engaged in the conversation.

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Thanks to Brett Crosby for taking these pics of the panel yesterday.