Social media measurement – oversexed, overpaid and over here

Social media measurement

Jeremy Marshall is a Senior Research Manager at Opinium and heads up the Website Research Unit.

“Social media measurement is a real minefield”, she said. ‘So much of what is reported on relates not to valuable brand perceptions, but to the mundane. What use to Macdonald’s’, she suggested, ‘Is a comment such as, ‘Meet me on the pavement outside McDonald’s’?

Many delegates left the conference shaking their heads, bemused and bewildered by what they had heard. Not only about social media, it has to be said, but as to how joined up online and offline activities really are in today’s organisations. ‘Working in silos’ was an oft-used phrase among both speakers and delegates. More intriguingly, there appears to be little real appetite to join activities up, particularly when it comes to data and measurement.

Back to social media, a recent Opinium survey of online behaviour among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults produced some intriguing results – whilst nearly half (46%) of respondents browse online for products or services to buy and 34 per cent visit or maintain their profile on social networking sites, only 18 per cent of respondents regularly (at least once a week) read blogs or online forums and an even smaller number (13%) actually contribute to such forums. And this among internet-savvy consumers who take part in regular online surveys.

Our findings tie in with the results of IPA’s 2010 TouchPoints survey of 6,000 UK adults, which revealed that a mere 8 per cent of word-of-mouth in the UK is currently generated online – and in the US, where consumer generated media is years ahead of the UK, this figure rises to only 9 per cent.

So despite the impact social networking has had on our daily lives, it seems that ‘blogging’ – in spite of its huge publicity – remains in this country an activity confined to a small – and arguably unrepresentative – minority. Online social media is easy to capture (hence the proliferation of providers) but are we giving it more attention than it deserves? Wouldn’t we be better off focusing on the 91 per cent of word-of-mouth generated offline?