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Assigning Value to Social Media

April 10, 2011

More than 500 million users are on Facebook, over 7.5 million users are on foursquare, then there’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Buzz etc.  People are using social media to communicate and integrating it into their daily lives.  Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to make sense of it all.

The biggest complaints I hear are about the relevancy of it all.  People refer to Twitter as “internet litter,” and most tweets go unread.  No one really cares when I check in at a restaurant, much less when I check in at work (where I hopefully am at 10 am on Tuesday).  People care even less about the photo albums you created with pictures from your recent vacation (well, maybe we do care, but it’s frankly the last thing I want to see at 10 am on a Tuesday sitting at my desk).  So how do you effectively use social media if most of it is just noise?

Clearly social media is moving the needle.  It’s easy to see how for things like customer service.  As social media is, well, inherently social, it’s a great way to voice your opinions and to receive a response.  If you want something, all you have to do is post on brands’ community pages.  Trust me, you will receive a response almost immediately.

Recently, different brands and public figures have been engaging communities in new ways.  For example, Jennifer Lopez has reached out to her Facebook community for an early release of her new single.  If enough of her fans “like” her page, then they will receive the song early.  Other brands crowd source from their pages and actively tweet questions and answers.

Still, how are brands supposed to know what they are doing is correct?  Clearly, when I write for my brand’s Facebook page, I cannot speak the same way I would to my friend.  That said, I also don’t want to sound like a copy writer.  What should we say? When should we say it?  Should we keep the post long or short?  Should we post on the weekend?  We have infinite questions.

Last week the New York-based start-up, Buddy Media, released a white paper answering just these questions.  While the white paper only looks at data from two weeks this winter, it analyzes some of the largest brands in the game and is a great start to unlocking the potential for brands in social media.

The even better news is that Buddy has new analytics tools coming out in only a number of days, so we can customize this white paper for our specific brands.  Clearly, I am excited in anticipation and only hope the new tools live up to my expectations.   I’ll be sure to let you know how they work and what they have to offer when I’ve had a chance to play with them.

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