The Irony Of Measuring Marketing Now

Metrics are powerful. Even the bad ones.

by Jason Falls |

I once provided counsel for a company that had little confidence in social media marketing. It begrudgingly decided it would hire a consultant, go through some strategic exercises and probably prove that social media was bullshit and it would be better off sticking with its traditional guns.

The brand’s insistence with my work, as is with most clients I’ve dealt with, was that we measure everything as infinitely as possible. Skeptics are like that. They want to know how many clicks, how many re-tweets, how many milliseconds the time-on-site number increases each month, even if none of those measures really matter. Social Media Explorer has always been more partial to sales and lead conversion or at least metrics that match the client’s business goals. We reported those as well and met the client’s expectations.

Picture of a common measuring tape in inches. ...
Picture of a common measuring tape in inches. It is divided into 1/32nd of an inch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And after a few months and some short-term measurable impact through social media, they cut the cord. The metrics were good, but not eye-popping. And probably not as good as their last ad campaign. Skeptics don’t care that social media is not advertising and there needs to be time spent building a relationship with customers there. They want a 5.9 rating overnight or 150,000 impressions … or at least a promise that 150,000 issues of the magazine their quarter-page ad appeared in were distributed somehow.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset the client decided social wasn’t for them. Best to explore and find out than to A) Not know or B) Explore, hate it and keep on banging your head against the wall. Some brands … or more specifically brand managers or CMOs … are just better suited to put social media off for the next guy or gal in charge. And maybe they’ll hear me yammering on about approaching social media marketing strategically and that you can measure if you plan to do so and give Social Media Explorer a shot.

But here’s the rub with companies like the one described above: A friend recently saw an advertisement for them … trailing the back of a bi-plane at a large, outdoor event.

And what, pray tell, infinite metrics did they get from that?

The digital space offers unprecedented access to lots of things. None is more compelling than the measures we can produce for clients. But those metrics are going to offer brands one thing they didn’t expect: honesty.

They’ve never gotten that before.

No matter how many of anything we report, no matter what percentage increase month-over-month, no matter what definitive conversion rate averages … nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever beat, “50,000 people may have seen your ad!”

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).