I attended the Chinwag Measuring Social Media event last night

As I looked around I realised we probably had a significant proportion of London’s social media types essentially crammed into one bunker, but fortunately we didn’t all get blown up. So the social media bandwagon is still populated, even if it’s a very small one that no one would really notice was missing anyway.

My take-aways are, not necessarily connected or in any order…


CEOs love them because they usually come from accounting backgrounds. But how can we boil all this qualitative, subjective, ‘squishy’ material down to one number?

More importantly, how can we cook these numbers back up into something that we can get ROI from? And when?

This is something that PR hasn’t even cracked yet. It’s incredibly difficult to measure influence and motivation, but someone somewhere needs to know when the money’s coming back.


Standardised metrics of some kind would be nice.

We already have this for other media, so why not the web? Even if it’s just a set of questions, or some framework for understanding and measuring.

One suggested framework was ‘Kudos’ – looking at whether a blog/post/interaction is knowledgeable, useful, desirable, open and shareable, that is, do you get kudos from it. It was also quite possibly the speaker’s company’s USP so full marks for divulging that one.


If we do get metrics, can they be gamed? As soon as people know what they are, could we not just hire bazillions of people in India or China to push the right buttons?

Quite possibly, but only for a short while, and when you’re found out you will be in deep doo-doo. You only have to look at the very recent Guardian blog situation to see that the truth will out, sometimes astonishingly quickly.

Remarkable, Watson

If you want your product/brand/service/company to stand out, you need to make it remarkable.

I really like this term. It’s more than ‘buzzworthy’ or ‘notable’. It means quite literally ‘such that people remark on it.’

This is the goal of copywriting too. If you can craft your piece such that people will chat about it in the pub, you’ve won. It’s probably the goal of any communications initiative. And, even better than that, the only way you can be remarkable is in the eyes of your audience.

In other words, the audience will tell you what is remarkable about you. So listen to them.

Armageddon outta here

We’re currently occupying the space where we need to keep tabs on huge amounts of material, but where humans are slow, and machines are dumb.

This won’t always be the case. We may continue to be slow, but sooner or later – and the consensus seemed that this will be sooner – machines will get smart enough to go beyond ‘the numbers’, beyond sentimenting, and start tracking the intangible subject matter and opinion that currently is the domain of the human brain.

This is kind of scary. Let’s look at levels of abstraction here:

  • Data – is symbols, that is, huge sequential monolithic programs that crunch numbers to produce payrolls.
  • Information – is relations, that is, the computer application that enables you to draw meaningful inferences through cross-reference.
  • Knowledge – is patterns, which emerge when you can draw data together from extremely wide catchment. In other words, knowledge is enabled by media such as the web.
  • Understanding – is principles, where we can start saying ‘we know why people are doing this. We know enough about them and their preferences to account for their behaviour.’ It’s the domain of the web application and mass of interactions involved, because they complete the circle of cause and effect. This is where we are currently.

What comes next? Wisdom? That’s (supposedly) where we humans lie. We’re the ones who use our experience and judgement to decide what to do. But maybe one day we’ll have sufficiently sophisticated tools to do that.

Computers talking to computers. Where are my pills?

3 thoughts on “I attended the Chinwag Measuring Social Media event last night

  1. Sounds an interesting event. I agree that CEOs love numbers. I think we have to be careful not to pander to them. We need a qualitative approach that looks at discourse, conversations and relationships too.

  2. Pingback: content to be different » Mine’s a coComment #1

  3. There lies the rub. What is marketing if it doesn’t discover new sources of revenue? What is a company if it isn’t a profit centre? Eventually we are going to need ‘a number’ to slot into this framework somewhere, even if this isn’t just for the CEO.

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