Silence is golden (or more proof social media metrics mislead)

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In the lead piece for our last newsletter, Smoking Gun PR head honcho and all round public relations mastermind Rick Guttridge waxed lyrical why It’s nice to be liked on social media, but better to get engaged.

He’s not alone in this mistrust of basic social media metrics, and now a social media agency based in Minneapolis, U.S.A., has provided yet more proof of just how much these statistics can mislead those responsible for their analysis. Take a look at the video they made below.

Interesting, isn’t it? Or, perhaps more accurately, it represents some of the most boring minutes ever committed to the internet. And, considering we’re talking about the same internet that also hosts a myriad of ways to make you stare catatonically at a screen, before wondering why on Earth you just wasted that precious time, we’d say our statement speaks volumes.

So this blank, silent video, showing nothing but a white ‘box’, which does absolutely nothing, managed to garner 100,000 views on YouTube. That might be less than the entertainment news short you just clicked on to see what Myley Cyrus’ latest misdemeanour involved, but the figure is far from negligible. It becomes even more noteworthy when you take into consideration how 22% of those watching actually endured the stream for its full running time.

The idea was to show that stats and facts like number of views for a YouTube video do not necessarily have any meaning when you’re trying to find out the true impact of your social media marketing. Hats off to those at Solve, the agency that came up with the concept, for creating something tangible to argue the point many professionals have been trying to tell people for quite some time- from the public to clients, passive observers to partners.

All of which leaves us with a question. If the numbers don’t always add up, how can we really judge if our efforts have served their intended purpose?

Fundamentally speaking, it’s a difficult quandary to solve, and one that can’t be solved quickly. Here at Smoking Gun PR we’ve made it our business to study data, analyse and calculate better than other agencies. Hence the reason we’ve garnered awards for work in this area. To reveal our secrets would be giving the game away, but let’s just say we focus on a comprehensive set of statistics, rather than surface level noise.

In an era of big data this is becoming ever-easier. For any brand, working out exactly who had what reaction to which of their campaigns is never going to be simple, but tasking the right people for the job can make the mammoth challenge more straightforward than it looks. As such, we should question one more thing; do y0u believe your current marketing, public relations and social media representatives are looking at the bigger picture, or is there a chance they’re getting blinded by the dazzling lights of meaninglessness?

Here are a couple of things to consider:

*We cannot, and should not, judge Facebook success rates simply based on Likes and Fans. Interaction is the key- shares, comments, messages.

*Twitter is about far more than Followers- The network is a 140-character-conversation-haven, so let’s use it that way.

*Videos could well be the hardest medium to judge- a great clip, produced professionally with a clear message and well conceived idea can do more for your reputation and reach with 1,000 views than a poor man’s equivalent could by garnering 10,000. Never forget about word of mouth.