Sep 22

SMW Chicago Day 4: Circles, Scrapbooks and ROI

SMW Chicago Day 4: Circles, Scrapbooks and ROI

Day 4!

This morning I had the pleasure of attending WOMMA’s Talkable Brands Exchange, a day-long Social Media Week event taking place at Google’s office here in Chicago (for those wondering: there were beanbag chairs). The theme of the day: “measuring the ROI of social media and word of mouth.”

Some themes that came up:

- Ninety percent of word of mouth takes place offline, and the degree to which the online conversation is representative of the offline one varies greatly. Measurements of WOM and social media aren’t necessarily interchangeable.
- We are seeing a shift in emphasis from “counting metrics” (reach, impressions, etc.) to “value metrics” (conversion, awareness, purchase intent).
- Should we be attempting to measure the ROI of social media at all? Or are we growing toward a place where social – like telephone calls, like meetings – is simply another channel that fuels all aspects of a business, and accordingly makes little sense to single out for analysis? Omnicom’s Bryan Simkins pointed out that although it seems ridiculous in 2011, companies in 2000 were passionately debating “the value of having a web page.”

We took an interlude for lunch to hear from Google’s Ryan Stonehouse about the features and intent of Google+, and the platform’s upcoming capabilities for brands. Stonehouse emphasized that Google+ is intended to be a social destination, but a social layer, enabling incredibly customized sharing for all of a person’s activities across the web.

“Selective sharing” as a theme for Google+ was especially interesting in contrast to the announcements coming out of Facebook’s developers conference today (literally, at the same moment).

Facebook’s newest product, the Timeline, does – in a way – the exact opposite of selective sharing. Timeline pulls together all of your activity, of all time, and displays it scrapbook-style in a long-term digest of everything you’ve ever done on Facebook.

Sound creepy and horrible? The video actually makes it look kind of cute:

Of course, this vision of Timeline takes as a given that you’ve never had any periods of life (or activities within Facebook) that you’d really rather not commemorate… when reality has shown us that if nothing else, Facebook is for many people an endless parade of things they probably wish they’d never posted.

Not sure I’m taking a side on this, but I do mention it to point out that our ongoing discussion of Google “versus” Facebook may be missing the point somewhat, in the sense that the two platforms are in some ways embracing very different philosophies, and could end up appealing to two quite distinct motivations of the same consumer.