When I read the word 'Silo' I recall the massive industrial grain storage silos that used to scare me as a child.
Having grown up on a UK TV diet of Doctor Who, Blake 7 and The Tripods, anything that looked vaguely like an enemy spaceship became the subject of irrational fear and bad dreams.
These days I fear silos of a different nature.....
Econsultancy sponsored the last Measurementcamp meeting and we have been involved in many of the sessions. The purpose of this fantastic open source movement is "to create open source resources which allow interested parties to measure their social media communications online and offline." It's a group of talented, enthusiastic and generous people from different backgrounds and organisations giving up their time and sharing valuable social media experiences.
I came away from the last couple of meetings feeling that we might be at risk of social media 'silo-think'. Instead of focusing on the differences and advantages of social media and the creation of industry metrics, perhaps we first need to consider where it sits within multi-channel marketing and how it can amplify and improve traditional channels and approaches.
By getting drowned in the detail we risk forgetting how other marketing disciplines and channel should work together.
We need to avoid measuring social media in a silo. Perhaps the challenge for future Measurementcamps is to fully understand and appreciate where social media fits, where it enhances the broader marketing mix and what we can learn from other disciplines, before we attempt to create another set of marketing metrics.
There are critics of The Net Promoter Score, PR based Advertising Value Equivalents, Advertising Focus Groups, and the BARB methodology but there are reasons why many marketers use them to benchmark and measure their activity. So, what can social media strategists learn from 'accepted' methodologies, how did they develop, what can we apply to our quest for best practice social media measurement methodology?
Measurementcamp would welcome more Agency and client Marketers with deeper experience of other non-digital disciplines to bring their measurement expertise to the table and join us. We need them to share their knowledge of benchmarking and measuring other channels - Broadcast advertising and PR, Brand TV, Direct Mail, In-store, Outdoor etc.
The arguments, "you can't/shouldn't measure social media activity" and "it's impossible to measure it as objectives are different every time and no two channels offer the same metrics" don't stand up in my opinion. Did advertising agencies ever think to themselves, "well this TV and radio stuff is really exciting, but damned if we can measure the effects on what people think about it and sales."?
Econsultancy has previously published our social media ROI findings and we hope to share more of our case studies.
It is not impossible to prove the benefits and cost per objective fulfilled (sale, data acquisition, vote, life improved, pound donated, person reached with a positive message etc) but rarely are these things measured without considering the impact of other marketing channels.
It's time to have more confidence in measuring social media as an effective element of a multi-channel campaign, think about the metrics that really matter and show value comparative to other channels. Make it more complex and detailed if you have the inclination, time, resource and budget,
So channel experts, let's work together to develop useful, relevant, multi-channel metrics.
....and avoid those silos at all costs....