January 28, 2015

Social Media Metrics: Useful Or Available?

Now that nobody with a functioning brain pays any attention to social media "metrics" (like followers and likes) you have to wonder how advertising and marketing wizards spent years being mesmerized by this bullshit.

I think the answer is simple. It's so difficult to isolate the effect of advertising on sales results that people grasp at anything that sounds like a measurement and is simple to understand.

I don't think social media metrics were fashionable because they were indicative of anything useful or meaningful, they were fashionable because they were easy to come by and easy to comprehend.

When The Noise Is Stronger Than The Signal
It is not unusual for click through rates for banner ads to hover in the .02 to .03% range. That's 2 or 3 clicks per 10,000 impressions. (I use the term "impressions" with great trepidation.)

This is so astoundingly low that I wonder if it is a real number. It seems to me that the margin of error may be far greater than the result itself.

For example, if the margin of error in counting clicks is 1%, that would be 100 clicks in 10,000. In that environment, are 2 or 3 clicks real or just noise?

Are there any statisticians out there who can advise us? Prof. Sharp?

Our Doctors Are Rockstars
In my hometown of Oakland California, there is a children's hospital called, not surprisingly, Children's Hospital Oakland.

For several months now there has been a huge banner hanging from the top of the hospital that says, Our Doctors Are Rockstars. This bugs the shit out of me.

Apparently the dimwits who conceived this banner believe higher virtue obtains to the nincompoops who sing pop songs than to people who save the lives of children.

What a joy it would be to wake up one day and see a sign somewhere that said, Our Rockstars Are Doctors.

Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads?
Is the title of a wonderful, gorgeous book by Alfredo Marcantonio, David Abbott, and John O'DriscollLike I said in my Amazon review, if you're thinking of a career in advertising it will show you how it's supposed to be done. If you're working in advertising it will remind you of why.


Colm said...

"The revolutionary Volkswagen advertising campaign of the 1960s and 70s
is universally acknowledged to be the greatest and most influential ever

Surely DeBeers and diamonds holds this crown, they took an essentially useless thing and made it commonplace to spend several months' salary on it, and convinced everyone never to try and resell it.

Neil Charles said...

Margin of error usually means that the data is sampled. E.g. when a survey interviews 1000 people and then scales those answers up to represent the whole population. You get an estimate that's not 100% accurate, because you only talked to 1000 people, not to everybody. The more people you talk to, the smaller the error gets.

This doesn't usually apply in digital, where you're counting ALL of the impressions (ahem) and all of the clicks. The data isn't sampled.

Half of the clicks might well be accidental though. They're 'real' clicks, but it's potentially a big error.

George Tannenbaum said...

As for "Remember those Great..." The world would be a better place if every client read those ads. And every planner. And every copywriter and art director.

There were no false demarcations between brand and selling, between the emotional and rational brain.

There was selling based on truths.

The way it should be.


"Now that nobody with a functioning brain pays any attention to social media" - If only that were true. Some clowns are still "measuring" "engagement" with "content."

Sell! Sell! said...

Agreed, George.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

In another scandalous mark against social media, I am unable to like George's post more than once. Unacceptable, comment bot thingamajig. Unacceptable.

Shanghai61 said...

You're right about the seductive power a simple number has on the minds of management. Even when it's proven to be irrelevant to the actual task at hand.

The economist Robert Chambers put it like this ...
"Economists have come to feel
What can't be measured isn't real.
The truth is always an amount -
Count numbers; only numbers count."

(Jeremy Bullmore cited this in his wonderfully entertaining lecture "Posh Spice and Persil", which is available on the WPP website and should be compulsory reading for everyone with an interest in brands).

royAB said...

That's straight in my quotable quotes file. Ta

royAB said...

Indeed; The shoulders of giants we should be standing on are so submerged beneath the sludge that's drowned them that we stand on their heads with sh*t covered boots