why i don’t bother with social media analytics

WARNING: if you’re a social media manager or consultant, you should probably stop reading now.

For the rest of you (and those brave enough to remain!), here’s why I personally think that the industry around analytics of our on-line activity (page views, number of likes, followers, and such like) is potentially damaging to our respective enterprises. But as with all my ideas, I also recognise that this won’t be true for everyone, and that it’s a biased/prejudiced view that I hold which is based on my experiences to date (but which hasn’t stopped from being nominated as the lead advisor in several funded local and national enterprise support programmes on using social media…)

1) a few years back I was identified as one of the top500 most influential people on twitter, but at the time had less than 1,000 followers (out of over 300 million users) and also (horror of horrors), didn’t even have a smartphone to tweet from on the move! (I’ve also become a hashtag on twitter on several occasions!)

Conclusion: the engagement and relationships I try and nurture through twitter via conversations, etc, is what’s important. Not the number of people who follow me (although it’s always nice to have more to reassure my ego ;-)

2) I have a lovely website supported by Smart Bear, with google analytics running in the back of it. However the site’s there not as a sales tool, but as part of my personal brand, and also as part of meeting clients and markets expectations of me. I know from conversations with clients and others that most people don’t look at it (although that have are always complementary)

3) I’ve an active profile across 13 different social media channels (far too many to list here — but just got started on Vine!), because I recognise that not everyone likes twitter (but 300 million do!), not everyone gets on with facebook, some people are into slideshares, and others into hipster photos — as the work I do and support I offer sees in a wide variety of communities and sectors, I think it’s important to show some respect where possible by engaging with clients through their preferred on-line channel (see point 2).

4) But ultimately, all the analytic reports I see always leave me asking “so what?”.

What’s the point of thousands of sign ups if none of them want to actually talk with you or buy your product. What’s the point of having more followers on twitter if you never get to meet them in person to find out what they like and how you can support each others endeavours in the future?

Of course, all of this is a very biased view drawn from my own experience and business model — I’m not an on-line retailer for whom I recognise such analytics are crucial in understanding where effort is being wasted in reaching customers and where to invest more time and resource.

So I’m writing this as a cautionary note, as I see too many entrepreneurs and enterprises getting caught up in the hype of analytics, when at best it’s only a distraction to their business model.

I also like the way the vooza summed it all up in one of their typically excellent short vids debunking hype around trends and fashions in enterprise:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9NK-bfn9ys