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Why Measure Social Media:

A Brief Point of View by Christopher Berry

Christopher Berry,
VP Measurement Science, Syncapse Corp.
You cant improve what you cant measure. You wont improve what you wont measure. That second sentence
is harsher, granted, but true. Measurement is essential to learn from past experiences and to improve the
effectiveness of anything.

We learn through cause and effect.


In many organizations we are rewarded because of cause and effect. How can we ever hope to know the effect
social media has unless we measure it? In sum, you wont improve what you wont measure, since the decision to
do otherwise is a strategic decision that explicitly precludes real improvement over time. Im incented to view that
as an unacceptable decision, naturally. I do head up a Measurement Science group after all.

Measurement is the act of gathering salient data. Science is how we go about learning and isolating cause and
effect. Both measurement and science in social media are complex. We acknowledge that complexity. And yet,
were confident we can march into it and emerge on the other side with an elegant model.

What is the source of this complexity?


Take what you know about the problems with Nielsen TV Ratings, search engine marketing, web analytics, direct
marketing and data mining. Mash them together to get an idea of how complex social media measurement is.

Take, for instance, sentiment analysis.


Weve been trained over the years to think of all customer buzz as being grouped into three groups: positive,
neutral, and negative. Im dissatisfied with the accuracy of such metrics. If you take 200 statements and ask 3
perfectly rational people to code them by hand, youll get 3 different versions of what they regard as an accurate
count. Each person reported his or her own truth. It is very easy to dismiss such subjective metrics especially when
they dont mesh with your own version of truth. What real learning can come from that? The science part can be
equally complex. Perhaps the relationship between business objectives and sentiment is non-linear.
What if a certain degree ofnegative sentiment from a handful of detractors is necessary to cause the polarization
around your brand?

Is such polarization beneficial to the objective? If so, how much is necessary before it becomes detrimental?
Every person, whether theyre aware of it or not, has a working mental model of how social media works with
multiple channels - shaped by the organization theyre from and their personal experiences. Somebody from a
strong TV background will perceive TV being the cause of social media buzz. Somebody from a strong data mining
background will perceive social media as causing higher rates of retention. Somebody from a strong ecommerce
background will always be unimpressed by the direct conversion single session conversion from Twitter. Somebody
from a strong measurement science background will perceive social media as being all of the above: its just a
matter of which model of the world will enable our partner to succeed and improve.

The names and logos for SocialTalk, SocialSync, SocialSupply and Syncapse are registered trademarks of Syncapse Corp.
All text is copyright 2009-2010 Syncapse Corp. All rights reserved.
www.syncapse.com
A measurement strategy is required given the inherent complexity of an organizations goal structure and of social
media itself. We must start with what is important to you and the organization. What is it that youre trying to
achieve? Reach? Acquisition? Awareness? Deeper engagement? Conversion? From there, we align an elegant
model with that goal and measure whats important to that goal. We use that understanding of cause and effect
to improve the effectiveness of social media over time. Since social media is continuous, it lends itself particularly
well to such improvements. My point of view is that the purpose of measurement isnt simply to generate reports.
It is to gain an understanding of salience, cause, and effect. Its about generating answers to the question: knowing
what we know, what is possible next?

Christopher Berry,
VP Measurement Science, Syncapse Corp

The names and logos for SocialTalk, SocialSync, SocialSupply and Syncapse are registered trademarks of Syncapse Corp.
All text is copyright 2009-2010 Syncapse Corp. All rights reserved.
www.syncapse.com