This is the warning issued by a panel of social media experts gathered at a round table event held by hosting specialist UKFast at Microsoft’s London offices. The panel urged the people at the top not to get caught up only in the ‘numbers’ of social networks.
Charlie Osmond, CEO Fresh Networks warned: “We spend a lot of time looking at statistics for clients, like the proportion of sales brought through Facebook and such. Because we have these statistics our clients want them more and more but the danger is that we are becoming too focused on these numbers.”
“We have had clients who come in and ask for us to get their business 10,000 fans on Facebook and we wonder why,” continued Ronnie Brown, marketing manager at Outside Line. “Would you start a television or traditional campaign saying that you want to reach a million viewers? We don’t. We start by saying that we want people to act, feel or think differently.
“That’s what counts whether you have 5,000 or 500,000 fans. Further down the line we can look at how many people we are reaching but the top part is far more important.”
Liz Backhouse, social media marketer for UKFast, explained that MDs are naturally going to look for tangible evidence of success because that is how they have been conditioned.
She said: “Google is the main place that people have been marketing on the internet pre-social media, they offer fantastic statistics from analytics to everything within the ad-words interface so marketers are used to seeing numbers.
“People expect to see numbers that show ‘this many people have visited your website because this much money was spent’.
“The traditional marketers within companies expect social media to deliver these in the same way as Google and they are yet to understand that it is not all about those raw numbers, it is about balancing measurable statistics with engagement and conversation.”
Robin Grant, MD of global social media agency We Are Social explained the importance of incorporating statistics into the creativity of the medium.
He said: “We should be aware that it is important, especially for an e-commerce presence, to track the numbers behind social media campaigns. We had a client who generated more than £1million extra e-commerce revenue through a social marketing campaign. With stats like this at least we can prove to the finance director that the social media is worthwhile and worthy of investment.”
Backhouse advised businesses that when analysing campaigns, businesses need to ensure that they are getting a full overview of information.
She said: “The problem with analytics tools at the moment is that one site can tell you one thing, another site will tell you another and we have to go to several places to gain the overview that we need.
“Having to collate all of this information is time consuming and there is also the risk that companies will rely on one site which can only tell them a small area of the information that they need to properly analyse their social media presence.”
Grant continued: “There are a lot of tools out there both free and paid for. The reports that we compile have to be an aggregation of all of this data. We then have an analyst who adds a layer of human interpretation to it.
“It’s something that our clients are really lapping up at the moment as it is so difficult to get a comprehensive overview of this data anywhere else.”
All of the experts on the panel agreed that the introduction of Twitter analytics could be a game-changer in the way that we analyse social media campaigns.