Rubbish social media stats let the side down

20 09 2009

It’s been about a month or so since I first came across this video via a post on Mashable called 30+ Impressive Social Media Stats Visualized.  The video was put together by Erik Qualman, author of the upcoming book Socialnomics, and has received over 646,000 views to date.

At first I thought that it was pretty decent, especially if you like numbers and stats and all that (which I do).

But a few things just didn’t seem right at first.

It might have been the use of a Moby as the backing track, which is enough to make me suspicious of pretty much anything. Or perhaps it was the opening teaser question ‘…is [social media] the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?’ Um, no. That’s just nonsense.

But I looked past all that, and enjoyed the video. It was the sort of thing I could picture myself pulling up in a training session. I even jotted down what I thought were some of the most noteworthy stats, which were to form the basis of this blog post.

SocMedFailWhaleBut focus of this post has shifted completely since I began looking into some of these grand stats more closely. It seems that Qualman has fudged or completely misrepresented a few numbers which makes the video now look a bit sloppy.

Read just a few comments on Erik’s blog and on the original Mashable article and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

Robert Cole has written a fantastic blog post about his reaction to the video and some of those duff stats, and the following summary bears repeating:

…we have accurate statistics mixed in with a bunch of hyperbole that inadvertently undermines the credibility of both the presentation and social media. The video is a perfect example of social media at its worst.

So what’s the big deal? Well, a couple of things.

  1. Some of the stats are just plain wrong. This not only takes some of the shine off the glossy-techno-social-media-love-fest, but also arms those who watch it (and don’t question it) with incorrect facts to perpetuate. By way of example, the Mashable article has been re-tweeted over 450 times.
  2. At a time when social media enthusiasts from PR/Ad/Media circles are trying to determine the best way of measuring effectiveness and ROI, the last thing we need is someone overstating the case for effect (or to sell more books). It’s counterproductive for a start, but also gives anyone who thinks this area is a little flaky the ammunition they need to be, well, right.

I’m sure Qualman’s intentions were good and completely genuine. And I do agree with one of the closing lines of the video: ‘[social media is] a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.’

But huge numbers in social media – like Facebook cracking 300 million users this week – though impressive, tell only part of the story.  I worry that by overstating the numbers to inflate the impact of social media, the Qualmans of the world let the side down a bit.

Related Articles





A day of Facebookery

7 09 2009

facebookI’ve been skilling up my Facebook Fan Page prowess today and thought I would share a few things before shutting down for the day.

First off is the Facebook Fan Page directory which can be found here. As you might expect, you can break down the list of Fan Pages by type of page (e.g. products, TV shows, celebrities, etc.) as well as search them by keyword.

Old news? Yes.

But I often fiddle and search until I find what I’m looking for on Facebook so it’s good to remember that Fan Pages can all be found in one handy place. A treasure trove of case studies for you PR/social media/advertising types (see below).

When you arrive at the page you are greeted by the most popular fan page by number of fans. Top 10?

  1. Michael Jackson – 10,207,298 fans
  2. Barack Obama – 6,689,609 supporters
  3. Vin Diesel – 6,146,520 fans
  4. Facebook – 5,022,715 fans
  5. R.I.P Michael Jackson (We Miss You) – 4,667,851 fans
  6. Pizza – 4,582,169 fan
  7. Will Smith – 4,428,324 fans
  8. I need a vacation!!! – 4,385,516 fans
  9. Dr. House – 4,372,902 fans
  10. Mafia Wars – 3,990,218 fans

Vin DieselI get Obama and the double Michael Jackson entry. I even get Will Smith and that loveable curmudgeon Dr. House. But Vin Diesel? At number 3?

I thought I was Rickrolled.  So I did a quick search and it’s for real:

I no longer have any connection to this world.

Brands

To maintain my sanity, I thought I would close by providing a more interesting list of the top 15 official brand Fan Pages (by # of fans):

  1. Facebook – 5,023,105 fans
  2. Starbucks Coffee Company – 3,827,219 fans
  3. Coca-Cola – 3,677,849 fans
  4. YouTube – 3,582,388 fans
  5. Nutella – 3,297,349 fans
  6. Pringles – 2,784,376 fans
  7. kinder surprise – 2,616,879 fans
  8. Live Messenger – 2,493,152 fans
  9. Ferrero Rocher – 2,409,724 fans
  10. adidas Originals – 2,063,395 fans
  11. Victoria’s Secret – 2,026,758 fans
  12. iTunes – 1,849,655 fans
  13. Disney – 1,835,206 fans
  14. Nike Shoes – 1,592,793 fans
  15. Toblerone – 1,511,744 fans

I intend on spending some time over the coming days getting acquainted with some of these in greater detail. I’ll be looking to get a handle on the types of content that can be found on the pages, how they are organised, the frequency with which they are updated, and the degree of community interaction (if any?).  Do check back for updates.

Callan Green from Bailey Gardiner, a San Diego-based agency, wrote guest post on Mashable back in June covering 5 ‘killer’ Facebook Fan Pages and included Pringles (6), Coca Cola (3), Starbucks, Adidas (10) and Red Bull. That is definitely worth checking out.

Useful Facebook Links:

Face Book Blogs:





The social web’s most engaged brands

20 07 2009

Interesting report out today about which big brands are doing the ‘best job’ online across a number of social media channels. The study was conducted by analyst Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group and Wetpaint, and ‘ranks the top 100 brands by ‘social media engagement’. The social media channels in question include blogs, Facebook, Twitter, wikis, and discussion forums.

Amazingly, the study claims a correlation between social media engagement and revenue growth. Working in social media marketing/PR, this is music to my ears. But I’m inclined to agree with TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld:

I really doubt that their level of social media engagement had anything to do with their revenue growth, it is just that the strongest brands are the most engaged.

That said, this study was conducted by former Forrester Analyst Li (Groundswell anyone?) so I wouldn’t count the findings out completely.

So who comes out on top?

  1. Starbucks (127)
  2. Dell (123)
  3. eBay (115)
  4. Google (105)
  5. Microsoft (103)
  6. Thomson Reuters (101)
  7. Nike (100)
  8. Amazon (88)
  9. SAP (86)
  10. Tie – Yahoo!/Intel (85)

I love lists, but I love case studies even more and the report contains some best practices from Starbucks, Dell, SAP and Toyota. Its definitely worth a skim.

For me, the report highlights the need to keep my finger on the pulse of what other brands are doing online – and learning from it. When I come across a decent case study online I tend to file it on my Delicious profile under a ‘casestudy’ tab for future reference.

Some notable case studies include US electronics retailer Best Buy and soft drink giant Coca Cola, by Robin Grant from We Are Social. Michael Litman from Consolidated also did a smashing job a few months ago with his Mashable post about the Compare the Meerkat campaign. Beyond that, here are a few others that caught my eye recently:

Am I missing any?

[Full report – ENGAGEMENT: Most Engaged Brands On Social Media]

[Photo and article via TechCrunch]