Scoring social media versus counting

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Counting Social Media is Like Driving in the Rear View Mirror

Earlier this year, technology writer Stephen Baker asked, in The New York Times op-ed page, “Can Social Media Sell Soap?” His answer: Maybe not — a reply that’ll resonate with the discontent about social media emanating from brand marketers. Baker rightly observes that brand marketers are struggling with how to measure social media because “in a server farm packed with social data, it’s hard to know what to count.”

Precisely. Counting is like measuring the future with gauges from the past. Or, driving in the rear view mirror. Why use static, analogue media metrics like readership, CPM, OTS or household penetration to try to get a handle on dynamic social networks where Power Laws — network effects, the long tail, the 80–20 rule — apply?

Any marketer doing anything at all with social media should not be counting; he or she should be scoring — and scoring only specific bits of what’s happening on any one network. In other words, isolating the important actions from the unimportant. Because that’s what social graphs (Facebook, Twitter) and link graphs (Google) do.

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