Measurementcamp

Griffatmeasurementcamp took place at Golen Harris. There were around 50 people. Will had roped me in to present this time.  Along with Andrew Gerrard and John Wilsher. I thought they balanced each other beautifully.  Andrew presented on how to measure ROI from social media and John Wilsher used his lighting fires metaphor from IPAsocial – and suggested that Sid Meier's Civilisation and Sim games were a good analogy for making changes to creating systemic effects but without being able to isolate the individual contributions to any single change. I was piggy in the middle and did the old lag's presentation. Less than 1 year in social media but 26 years in communications. I was slightly discomfited to find that at least 5 of the audience had been born in the year I started to work for Allen Brady and Marsh just the far side of Holborn. And when I asked how many had been born more recently that took it up to about a third of the company. Ah well!

So I gave my grizzled presentation. 60 seconds per slide and 10 different roles I had played during that time and the main learnings for measurement.  I've put the deck up on slideshare.  My typology of old and new style research as cultivators versus hunters and avoiding becoming scavengers seemed to spark something – but I couldn't get much across in only 60 seconds. I hope the link to this blog post will explain it further. 

The appetite of the crowd seemed to be for the pub so instead of breakout groups we attacked a couple of issues: finding out what the silent majority of browsers thought, and how to deal with a climate of negativity around a brand.  I missed being able to work in small groups and then debrief the whole session but I guess we will get back to that next time when Christmas is done with. So we headed for the City of York to have a Christmas drink. Very nice to have conversations with so many I knew only from twitter and blogs.

And I hope I managed to raise some interest in the Cloud of Knowing. A couple of the group members were there and I hope to get hold of a few more to help me with the task of bringing analytics within the research fold. Haven't long to do it! 

I've been thinking about the balance between ROI and payback versus more helpful measures of what social media can do.  The casestudy that is always cited is Dell's use of Twitter as a direct response medium. Because that is how they used it. But if every brand used twitter in that way then twitter would be abandoned. There would be no point. I don't want to find it I tweet that I just ate a delicious pear and Stilton sandwich that Pot Noodle pops up and tells me I should have eaten their product instead. Or a random sandwich shop offers me the same thing at a lower price. I don't use social media to be interupted by commercial messages. Dell may have monetised and got away with it. But its not clear to me how they have been a net contributor to twitter. Or have they just harvested it?  There are limits to ROI. I was once asked to write a rationale for why we should give secretaries colour monitors when they were only preparing documents in black and white.  My answer was not 3 pages long but to tell the FD not to be ridiculous.  The impact of giving people old horrid tech because it was sufficient to give a result was not reasonable. I didn't have to make a case for intangibles and workplace environment. Most goods in our communities don't have ROIs attached to them. And many of the things that make our companies worth working for aren't paid for by the company anyway. But we don't find local government rationing these common goods or requiring us to pay to access them.

Social media campaigns are a bit like jumpstarting a car. Its about creating momentum. Business casing whether we get 2 or 4 or 8 people to push the car is irrelevant – what matters is whether we got the car going or not. If we didn't then it doesn't matter how many or how few were involved. If we are successful we could always ask ourselve if we could have done it will less effort. But we need to keep our communities onside. We used to do this with CRM and with PR. And ROI was never the sole criterion for those either. I am reticent about requiring  social media campaigns to justify themselves to the last penny. When most advertising doesn't pay for itself. And is tolerated largely because any major modifications to product price or distribution are so expensive. That marcoms is a cheaper and faster option for clients to give agencies. I would rather set tough measures on social media campaigns that relate to how human beings interact – than how much money we got out of their pockets. There's flakey. There's fluffy. And there's a difference between those two. And then there's effective because we really get people to do something. And guess what? They keep doing it even when we stop pushing and reminding them.  The power of advertising consists of the way it continues to work when you take the ads down. Similarly the effect of a good social media campaign is that people will continue to talk and share and evolve the messages. When we're long gone. Everything else is publicity. Used up when the budget is gone. I'm not sure ROI takes us towards creating those sorts of campaigns.

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