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36 interaction KPIs to help measure engagement  Social media measurement is something that I think should be undertaken with a sense of perspective, by standing back and looking at the big picture. 

A widescreen approach to social media measurement ultimately looks at the things that really matter: sales, profits, customer satisfaction and loyalty. Besides, honing in on the detail might not be the best use of your time, given the obvious difficulties that arise, particularly with attribution.

But standing back and looking at the bigger picture is not going to be enough for your data-mad boss, is it? It’s a bit too soft focus, right? He or she is going to want to see proof that all this social optimisation is actually working. 

If that’s the case, then don’t worry: there are lots of things you can measure...

It’s all about engagement

When we talk about social optimisation (a term I prefer to 'social media') we're really talking about driving engagement and interaction. The goal of any social optimisation strategy is to provide the right tools so that people can engage with your brand / people / products / services onsite and offsite.

Here’s what you want to happen:

  • You want people to make a noise. 
  • You want people to store and share things. 
  • You want people to love your website.
  • You want people to visit more frequently
  • You want people to refer your company to their friends.
  • You want people to buy into your brand. 
  • You want people to buy your products. 

Engaged customers and prospects are far more likely to do some or all of the above. So how can you boost customer engagement? 

Give people the right tools

The tools and onsite functionality you need is going to depend on your business, your strategy and your goals. What you're ultimately looking for is a wide range of tools to help people interact. It doesn’t matter whether this interaction happens onsite or offsite, but only that it happens. You can measure it either way.

This list of KPIs / metrics should help you figure out what can be measured (at a nano level) and also what kind of tools / functionality you may want to introduce. I still think it’s best to measure from a distance but if your boss wants the detail then this list should help you work out what to look at. In doing so you’ll able to determine the relative success and adoption of new features. You may also unearth trends and spot opportunities or issues.

In any event, taking a top-down look at interaction - and monitoring how customer engagement changes over time - can really help you position your company as a community-centric organisation, by proving that an investment into customer engagement is a wise one. Your boss should be happy if all goes to plan.

Making interaction a game

This list has been largely informed by a new social commerce startup that I’m working on. It’s essentially a marketplace that connects buyers with sellers. I created a ‘kudos’ algorithm that helps us curate the website. Items that are highly rated and that attract lots of comments / bookmarks / followers will gain kudos points. We apply different weightings to different interactions (for example, a ‘love this’ rating is worth less than a ‘follow item’). Editors / curators can then spot the buzz and act accordingly (better promotion, interviews, videos, etc).

We created ‘kudos’ for a few reasons. Firstly, we want to learn from the crowd. Secondly, we want the website to be highly interactive. Thirdly, we want it to feel like a game for the sellers, just like Digg is for the article submitters.

So tracking and making sense of interaction is a fundamental part of our web venture. Many of these metrics are factored into our algorithm, and in the same way you can score different interactions to create some kind of interaction index. It might help you condense all of this data noise into a more digestible format.

Caveats!

Before we jump into the list there are a few caveats...

  • Not all websites are equal. Not all of these will be relevant to all sites (e.g. 'Posts' won't be any good for sites without blogs and contributors)
  • Not all interactions are equal. 'Print page' as an engagement measure is barely worth looking at... or is it? In any case, some of these things are more important than others (hence my scoring / ‘kudos’ algorithm).
  • There is some crossover. For example ‘bookmarks’ and ‘wishlists’ may be the same thing on your site (although they’re not on mine).
  • Some metrics will have sub-metrics.
  • Avoid curve balls. If the widget sucks then it doesn’t matter that 10,000 people installed it last week. It will still suck and they’ll hate it. 
  • Human power is needed to really understand the detail behind the numbers, and to act on that knowledge. Interpretation is key.
  • It’s about quality not quantity. Don’t go counting those spam comments!
  • This is a bit of a braindump and I’ll certainly have missed out various things, so please leave your pointers and suggestions in the comments section below. What are you measuring?

A list of social interaction metrics / KPIs

  1. Alerts (register and response rates / by channel / CTR / post click activity)
  2. Bookmarks (onsite, offsite)
  3. Comments
  4. Downloads
  5. Email subscriptions
  6. Fans (become a fan of something / someone)
  7. Favourites (add an item to favourites)
  8. Feedback (via the site) 
  9. Followers (follow something / someone)
  10. Forward to a friend
  11. Groups (create / join / total number of groups / group activity)
  12. Install widget (on a blog page, Facebook, etc)
  13. Invite / Refer (a friend)
  14. Key page activity (post-activity)
  15. Love / Like this (a simpler form of rating something)
  16. Messaging (onsite)
  17. Personalisation (pages, display, theme)
  18. Posts
  19. Profile (e.g. update avatar, bio, links, email, customisation, etc)
  20. Print page
  21. Ratings
  22. Registered users (new / total / active / dormant / churn)
  23. Report spam / abuse
  24. Reviews
  25. Settings
  26. Social media sharing / participation (activity on key social media sites, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc)
  27. Tagging (user-generated metadata)
  28. Testimonials
  29. Time spent on key pages
  30. Time spent on site (by source / by entry page)
  31. Total contributors (and % active contributors)
  32. Uploads (add an item, e.g. articles, links, images, videos)
  33. Views (videos, ads, rich images)
  34. Widgets (number of new widgets users / embedded widgets)
  35. Wishlists (save an item to wishlist)
Any good? Rubbish? Let me know what you think, and what I missed... [Image by padsbrother on Flickr, various rights reserved]
Chris Lake

Published 30 October, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

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David Lakins

Chris,

We have been trying hard to find some good measureables for one client for a while now - really showing how much an impact social media is having on their business.

This is a great list!

How these translate into real business is the next crucial step though.

Thanks,

Dave L

over 6 years ago

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Joerg Rathenberg

This is a great article and I really agree - measuring engagament is probably the single most important metric for marketers these days. But how can you do it in real life? The issue is that most people will have a hard time first measuring and then tracking more than 4 or 5 KPIs across different marketing programs.

In our experience, virtual events provide the ideal environment for marketers to measure the engagement level of their participants. We created the Unisfair Engagement Index, which tracks and then combines most of the metrics you listed into a single variable. It also considers additional information such a content from chat or polls.

This allows marketers to automatically rank all of their participants in a virtual event, so that the most engaged attendees - considered the hottest leads - can receive immediate attention. A simple point system helps our users to customize the lead scoring mechanism by adding weights to the attributes they value most. By defining lead ranking criteria upfront, they don’t waste time trying to make sense of their leads after an event is over.

over 6 years ago

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Carl Phelps

This is a great list of metrics. I would suggest tracking these metrics over time and comparing them to revenue over time. This way, you can find a correlation between revenue growth and growth in certain metrics, which will tell you what social media strategies have been effective and why they were effective.

over 6 years ago

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Social8Media

Another good tool/metrics is with the goals and funnels on google analytics.

over 6 years ago

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Shefali Nagdev

Truly a very informative article, rightly talking about looking at the big picture. A must read for anybody looking for information in regards to social media measurement. Good job.

over 6 years ago

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Chiara Bolognini

I thank you for this post. New companies are setting up their business by providing social media marketing and coverage for brands. It is simply fantastic and I am going to do the same at my company, upcoming new website www.swissiteinternational.com. So this post is really helpful to define how to measure social media enagagement. A good start to speak then about ROI.

over 6 years ago

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Chris Grant

Anybody who can be this detailed and specific is an ace in my book.  I'm getting pretty tired of the generalities.  Every one of your bullet points is worthy of a some discussion about whether it applies (to a specific situation) and how much weight to give it.  The sum of those discussions would be more internal clarity about what we want the site, the marketing, and even the product to be doing.  Thanks!

over 6 years ago

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supra shoes

A simple point system helps our users to customize the lead scoring mechanism by adding weights to the attributes they value most. By defining lead ranking criteria upfront, they don’t waste time trying to make sense of their leads after an event is over.

over 6 years ago

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catitude

Thank you for the article! The list is great, and I think it is not only the list to check AFTER a social media initiative, but should also be viewed as a to do list BEFORE the launch of the initiative.

over 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Many thanks for all of your comments / suggestions / retweets. It's proving to be excellent food for thought...

@Carl - I absolutely agree that making correlations over time is the only sensible way to go about measuring success. Technically there are lots of options if you want accuracy, but I'm not sure that it's necessary to measure everything to the Nth degree (the more you automate and build this stuff into your system / processes the better). If your profits, customer lifetime value and satisfaction rates are going up - as well as your engagement levels - then I think it's safe to say that this stuff works. Besides, the TV advertisers have relied on correlations for half a century to prove effectiveness, so why can't we? ;  )

@Chiara - you're right to make the distinction about measuring engagement vs measuring ROI. Some of the things on this list are more time consuming / labour intensive than others, and may not generate a return in the first instance, although many of us are sowing the seeds for future success, by making e.g. Twitter / Facebook a core part of our strategy. As such there may be an upfront investment in time / energy required to kickstart a proper engagement strategy that works over the long term.

over 6 years ago

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Jonathon Oake

good list. v. useful

seems to me much of it works just as well for publishers of content sites as well, as these are good generic measures of engagement

over 6 years ago

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Paul Marsden

Nice post Chris, and useful ammo for the engagement-not-ROI crowd.  Interesting and mildly ironic that the only "engagement" action not listed is an online purchase ;-)

Have posted a detailed response here http://www.socialcommercetoday.com/?p=878, but are you not simply measuring interaction as a proxy for attention - which of course is a necessary condition for impact?  Why are we bothering with the "engagement" term at all in social media marketing - it's poorly defined and badly operationized.  Until we can prove the value of engagement (which means defining it) then how do we know engagement is a good thing?  Despite the heroic list, still think Dollars spent to Dollars returned is the only way to measure social media marketing.

over 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey Paul,

Thanks for the comment and article. Good points, well made.

I'm wearing more of a customer / visitor engagement hat, and also focusing on pre-sale engagement metrics (I've left out 'add to cart' as well as 'purchase', and there will be others... they should probably be in here). The things in my list represent some of the things you can measure, though not all are going to generate ROI, and they won't prove it either. They might tell you more about your platform / products / processes, and what your users like (and don't like).

Many of these things represent the things you can do to create a sticky, interactive and likeable web experience, and hopefully one that will increase engagement onsite and offsite. Further analysis into sales / profits / loyalty rates etc might tell you whether all this engagement is helping to move the needle in those key areas. Some of these things are simple bits of functionality that in themselves don't really cost anything to launch or maintain, but can help keep people tuned in.

You can correlate and make sense of trends, and you can benchmark where you're at. For example, this blog generates 3.5 times more comments than it did last year, partly as a result of us embracing Twitter and improving our overall functionality (there is still much to do). We can also see that the blog directly helps to convert readers to registered users and also paying subscribers, once they investigate our research and training. And all of this social love helps with the Google rankings. As such I'm in no doubt that engagement measurably works for us.

But you're absolutely right: dollars in vs dollars returned is the key thing to look at. Maybe next time around I'll try to focus a bit more on ROI, as opposed to performance indicators.

over 6 years ago

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James Galindo

Great article! I truly believe that in today's world it's all about engaging visual content that augments a company's presence/brand. Engagement can mean a lot of different things to different groups too. Measurement is key and a ranking type of system is mandatory in order to provide insight into what the customer is really "getting" from your company. We have been using a points based system of measuring user interaction for the past 6 months and we still have a ton of work to do to get MyBoothSpace.com to the level where we feel it can be for both customers and vendors.

over 6 years ago

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Katie Delahaye Paine

Be careful about adding mulitipliers to these metrics. Not all organizations would agree that a "follow" is less important than a "love this" -- What if you're not selling  a product, but rather are advocating a position. What's important is that each organization decide for itself what metrics are most important. No one is going to track all 35, what's important is to track the ones that are most closely associated with the organizations mission -- whether that be sales, donations, memberships or advicacy.

over 6 years ago

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Uncle Pen

Could you perhaps site some examples of metrics tools you're using to track these individual KPI's?  Sure Google Analytics is great - but it won't cover all of these.

over 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hi Uncle,

Google Analytics can certainly be used to help you track social media activity, but many of the things I've listed will need either human power of inbuilt admin / reporting tools. 

For example, at Econsultancy we can generate reports for 'comments' or 'forum posts' to track monthly trends over time, and there's are displays in our admin dashboard so we can see these numbers on a daily basis (if we want to! 57 new comments so far today!). This reporting functionality was built into our platform by our tech team.

In other cases, such as measuring offsite action, you can use a bit of human power or third party tools. I reckon most times you'll audit / benchmark, rather than making this a daily chore (I can't stand the idea of people being told to produce spreadsheets every day to track this level of detail - micromanagement sucks). So you'll be taking a snapshot in order to see how you progress over time. You can do the same thing in 1 / 3 / 12 months to check out the results of your efforts, and make some correlations with sales / loyalty / profits etc. 

As mentioned, the social commerce startup I'm working on lumps together a lot of these metrics (but not all of them) and applies various weightings that are appropriate to our business, and that's another way of automatically measuring activity and trends.

Cheers,

c.

over 6 years ago

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AspenSpin

interesting stuff, thanks

over 6 years ago

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Chase McMichael

Chris great post we did a preso at AdTech with Room214 and your points are spot on.   The results obtains were amazing http://www.slideshare.com/UNBOUND  for the Travel Channel .    Would like you feedback on this the last pages shows the numbers

Chase

over 6 years ago

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Patrick Murphy

Very good points, but how do you tie this back to the business strategy? Do we want to add social media to the metrics dump? Thanks Patrick

over 6 years ago

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Antal de Waij

Great summary of 'soft' KPI's. I am missing 1 really, really important one: that's ROI. How do you monetize the output of social media? Fore example. Dell monetized their Social Media efforts and were able to quantify in $$$ that they made money out of Social Media Thanks! Antal

over 6 years ago

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seo

It's nice tutorial , Thank you so much for everything you do to improve our creative.

over 6 years ago

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Ashley

Great post! Social Media measurement metrics have yet to mold into widely accepted standards yet, but i think this is a great starting point!

Ashley
Social Media Consultant
Brandtology

about 6 years ago

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www.onlineyiz.biz

As mentioned, the social commerce startup I'm working on lumps together a lot of these metrics (but not all of them) and applies various weightings that are appropriate to our business, and that's another way of automatically measuring activity and trends.

about 6 years ago

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dou

thanks...

about 6 years ago

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AspenSpin

Engagement is the key.  Yesssiirrrr

about 6 years ago

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Magazin

Great article- if your interested in learning more about Social Media Measurement please check out the SM2 Super Bowl Buzz site! We discuss and measure Social Engagement Index (SEI), Social Sentiment Engagement Index (SSEI) and Cost Per Social Impression (CPSM)

almost 6 years ago

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KDPaine

I thought KPI stood for KEY performance indicators. How can you possibly have 35 KEY metrics. You would go mad trying to keep all of them in some degree priority. What you have developed is a list of things that you CAN keep track of, not what you should keep track of. ] I would also argue that very few of these metrics are "key" to a business. Things like posts and fans are mere measures of activity not of impact. Why would you consider mere activity level "key." Key performance indicators should be those metrics that actually demonstrate business outcomes, no?

almost 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hi KD,

You're right: it's horses for courses. I noted in the caveats that not everything will be relevant, and that's the key.

It is up to the individual to apply ranking factors to these metrics, as some will be more important than others.

For example, if your agency is tasked with growing a client's Twitter followers by 10,000, and if that's how you are being measured, then 'fans' as a metric is going to be extremely important.

Other people may determine that Twitter followers, as a KPI, has minimal impact on their business. It all depends on the goals of any given campaign or strategy, and the value placed upon those goals.

Following the example through, Twitter fans can help spread word of mouth and retweet links, which can reach far beyond the Twitter ecosystem, and this kind of thing can really help with SEO.So to my mind (user) activity can be a direct indicator of impact.

The more you correlate performance, the more you know. Ultimately, through a series of experiments, I believe that you can figure out what the most important engagement metrics are for your business, then allocate targets and budgets accordingly, optimising as you go along.

I'm developing a toolkit to wrap around much of this thinking, to help marketers really get to grips with this stuff. The real number of available KPIs and metrics is much, much bigger, and there will be lots that I haven't yet thought of.

But you're quite right: some KPIs are more important than others.

Cheers,

c.

almost 6 years ago

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Steve Pinto

I like these KPIs. Most of them are relevant in an ala carte way depending on what products you're observing and your end success metrics. Currently I'm auditing our companies social media engagements in order to see how much we're engaging and in what context (using Facebook as a conversation tool vs. a megaphone for updates). Have you come across any tools/solutions that will measure likes, posts, followers, responses and other 'strength of presence' indicators automatically? Most of the companies I've been looking at for a social media measurement solution capture what I would call 'buzz metrics' doing keyword searches. I would like to find something that can tell me about how much presence my brands have on a regular basis (no one wants to count posts and responses) as well as what the buzz is around our products. Any suggestions?

Thanks for the great post!

-Steve-

almost 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Thanks Steve. In a word no, I've seen nothing quite like what I think you - and others - need. As such I designed a platform based around this post (and a couple of others that I wrote) that will help you measure engagement and make sense of overall business performance. It's some way off but I'm planning on having it built and ready to launch by Q2 2011.

Buzz monitoring is all well and good but how that buzz affects your business. That's the key...

almost 6 years ago

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Steve Pinto

Ashley/Chris,
Thank you for your response I appreciate it!
Chris,
I agree that everyone needs to keep an eye on your particular brand's 'Buzz' but for someone working at a company with many diverse brands it's equally important to see in what ways each brand is good at engaging their customers and fans. I look forward to seeing what your platform can do. For now I'll go back to counting and my spreadsheet!

Thanks guys!
-Steve-

almost 6 years ago

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James

I think there is one thing missing from the list. Purchases.

almost 6 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey James,

Yeah you're quite right, though this is pretty much a list of nano metrics that you can keep an eye on to see how they might impact on macro metrics (which I'd define as: sales, profits, loyalty, satisfaction, etc). 

But yes, sales, and especially repeat sales, are two of the best possible engagement KPIs that I can think of... superengagement KPIs perhaps ;  )

You can get very deep into this stuff, and it's impossible to isolate channels, but there is certainly scope to track nano metrics to make some comparisons and correlations. Brands that start to measure these things now will be well placed to make sense of social media / customer engagement strategies in the years to come.

Since the internet was born we have existed in a culture of customer acquisition. I hope this trend towards customer-centricity will usher in a new culture of customer retention.

Cheers,

c.

almost 6 years ago

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Şarkı Sözü

Great summary of 'soft' KPI's. I am missing 1 really, really important one: that's ROI. How do you monetize the output of social media? Fore example. Dell monetized their Social Media efforts and were able to quantify in $$$ that they made money out of Social Media Thanks! Antal

over 5 years ago

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consort in the slaves

I agree that it's important to give people the right tools. If someone doesn't know how to approach every kind of issues, it might result in failure.

over 5 years ago

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intrepid travel diaries

This is a great article and I really agree - measuring engagament is probably the single most important metric for marketers these days.

over 5 years ago

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kiss of prophecy

Is good to see the BBC adopting a best practice system for search engines and users. I know that many journalists have been developing a greater interest in the benefits that organic focus can bring to their businesses/clients. Very good points, but how do you tie this back to the business strategy? Do we want to add social media to the metrics dump? Thanks Patrick

over 5 years ago

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Promo Direct

Measuring your social media efforts it very important for us. We spend a lot of time interacting & promoting website on Social Media networks. Your blog post helped me a lot to find a direction where we can measure our efforts. Thanks a lot, it was a precious blog post for me to read.

over 5 years ago

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the laughing husband

s good to see the BBC adopting a best practice system for search engines and users. I know that many journalists have been developing a greater interest in the benefits that organic focus can bring to their businesses/clients........very nice.............

over 5 years ago

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my point sir

Funnily enough we're working on something very similar to what you outline for Econsultancy but it's more of a "framework" + process which will use various tools to do what we want. Essentially it's about identifying the most relevant and influential sites (using tools like InfluenceFinder), monitoring those sites for mentions of Econsultancy or key themes/topics we're interested in using something like BrandWatch and then building alerts that we can then manage and share out internally for response...thats all........................

over 5 years ago

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Inversion table

Has anyone actually ever studied the measurement of social media on business success? I think social media does not translate into new customers. I think previous customers might like it but you already have them so why waste time on them. Just not a huge fan of social media.

over 5 years ago

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Orange County Web Design

In his 2006 book, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yochai Benkler analyzed many of these distinctions and their implications in terms of both economics and political liberty. However, Benkler, like many academics, uses the neologism network economy or "network information economy" to describe the underlying economic, social, and technological characteristics of what has come to be known as "social media.Andrew Keen criticizes social media in his book The Cult of the Amateur, writing, "Out of this anarchy, it suddenly became clear that what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the Internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering.

about 5 years ago

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tua022012

Hi
I read this post two times.
I like it so much, please try to keep posting.
Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.
Source: http://keyperformanceindicators.info/brand-kpis/
Best regards
Henry

about 4 years ago

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Demers

Great post.

almost 4 years ago

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Lauren Hanson, Senior Business Analyst at Sebakon Solutions

Simple is good. Nice write up and stellar quick ref.

over 2 years ago

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