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squarepeg_roundhole sm(Read time = 3 minutes) Forget  for a moment, the promises of “messaging in the stream”… of “conversational marketing”… and/or the rush for “knitting together a branding fabric”….  At a practical level,  early, B2B pros need to be able to discuss social media up the management chain using old-school terminology like: reach and impressions… like: messaging persistance, quality and velocity.

This is one conversation that helps gets social media initiatives approved… and funded.

But where do you find benchmarks… tools for consistent measurement?  And what of Twitter’s “fuzzy math”?  Ah the joys (and risks) of this new, social media space.  The recent Harvard study (6/09) is worth the read…  Separately, I did find one reach/impression benchmark for Twitter.  It suggests that Twitter reach calculations should be in the 10-12%:   of a follower list;  CTR  1-4%  I can’t vouch for the research or conclusions, but it’s a starting point.  Big brand companies may be able to spent the budget and time evolving their own benchmark standards.  Dell has documented Twitter as a sales channelP&G has done interesting test to demonstrate the Twitter reach… Most B2B marketers, however, will need to rely on traditional measurement terms/comparisons to argue for and evaluate social media performance.

And don’t forget “Twitter Fuzzy Math” (nice blog post here). Please point out others, if you know of any resources/links.

Until such time as “new media” channels like Twitter, Facebook, et al are able to establish industry-blessed benchmark media standards, I fear much of the fuss and buzz will stay experimental to the larger B2B community, at least.   Useful, certainly… but more novelty than moving to mainstream, strategic outbound solution level.

Some baseline definitions:

  •  Reach = the total number of people “in the audience” for your message; reach refers to the size of the unduplicated audience.  Multiple exposure of a message to an individual does not increase reach.
  • Frequency = the number of times an individual is exposed to your message w/in a particular medium.  Frequency can be increased by message repetition, regardless of creative type.
  • Impressions: Essentially, the # of ad repetitions x the total placement source circulation.  For B2B clients, usually marketers quickly move past simple impressions to some more meaningful measure regarding conversion:  direct sales, asset downloads, lead generation, and the like.
  • Relevancy = how relevant your ad/message is to an individual at the time and in the context of exposure. If content is “king”, relevancy is “queen”.  And remember, relevancy for an individual changes over time, based on need and behavioral context.  Relevancy most drives response.

Why it’s important.  High-volume follow lists are all the rage – until you start to understand the Twitterverse of bots, spammers, porn peddlers  auto-follows and the fast-buck wanna-be’s that bloat circulation lists to laughable propostions.  Peak just one click under the follower count to see how quickly “circulation” falls apart.  If the target community isn’t well represented in the follow list, who cares how large the list is.  Three recent examples of a Twitter list scrub  reported to the Scoopdog team turned up an average 35+% fat when subjected to a subscriber audit (one was actually 60% junk).

Twitter tools for seeing/understanding reach and impressions

As a starting point for the rest of us, here’s a list of Reach/Impression/Velocity tools that can start you down the path, even if it’s only to compare one flight of tweets to your next… or to track the value ad social media coverage brings to the traditional news release drop without even a single tweet (yes, others will read your PR and very likely recirculate it w/out you’re even knowing.

Tweet Reach – A  favorite starting poiint. Very simple, quick/easy.  Reach and impressions presented in traditional media language. Key is in selecting the appropriate keywords for the search analytics.  For one narrow-niche client we took two keywords from a traditional news release headline and used the tool to track 40+ tweets/re-tweets adding 47,000 reach to the messaging platform – all w/out the client doing a single tweet themselves.

Twinfluence v2.6:  Anaother well worth using if only that the tool provides a quick calculation of your followers’ followers (only one I’ve found that does that).  Measures the combined influence of you and your followers. Some social network statistics as a bonus: reach, velocity and social capital.  Attempts to take into account “influence”, ie that some followers have more influence than others.  CAUTION:  the sign-up defaults to a permission to tweet your influence score.

*   Twitalyzer – Compare your tweets to another user’s tweets (think comparing yours with your competitors over same period, etc.) Charting capability.  Useful, if only to gain social media advocates a bit of leverage up the internal ladder when discussing social media marketing.  A presentor at the #140 conference (video presentation here)

TweetStats:  Hour-by-hour and for any 24-hour period, track up to three keywords (think competitors) w/g/t click volume.  Useful if, for example, there’s news being dropped during the same time period and/or an event/tradeshow and you want to compare message volume/activity around keywords or companies.

Twitter Analyzer: Google Analytics for Twitter users.  More than 50 statistical measures displayed with graphics and maps.  Among the views:  Reach, Subject Matter, Follower Growth, Follower Density Map, Follower Activity, Sharing capability.  Primarily a tool for Twitter users to analyze themselves or their friends.

Tweet Effect:  Provides information to you on how many followers you’ve gained/lost in the last X hours + (more importantly) which tweets might have helped you gain or lose followers.

As always, data is just data.  Without marketplace perspective, human analytics factoring in target audience community, anecdotal experiences and dialogue – the numbers are just numbers.  But… gaining social media information in the context of traditional media evaluation terms makes the conversaton easier at the baseline.

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