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3 More Insights from the Social Media Analytics Conference

If you could sit in the same room with social media and web professionals from companies like Klout, PepsiCo, Foursquare, and Business Insider, what would you ask them?

Would you ask them about the ROI of social media? Would you ask them if online influence scoring platforms like Klout and Kred are important? What about engagement? Influence? Volume? Is it all worth it, anyways? 

I'm not sure what you would ask, but these questions were on my mind when I went to Business Insider's Social Media Analytics Conference, located just outside of Times Square in the one and only New York City.

There were three main themes that evolved from the discussion at the conference:

Point #1: You got your training wheels on, Junior!

Social media measurement is in its infancy. This point was made over and over again. Regardless of where we think we are with measuring the effects of social media–be it financial, relational, or otherwise–is highly context-specific. As I stated earlier, all the big boys were in the room basically saying, "We're not sure how this works yet. But we're trying."

Conference favorite Bonin Bough, Digital and Social Marketer for PepsiCo, summed it up well by saying, "social media measurement is in the Jurassic stage." There are still cavemen (and women) lurking about! We're all wearing animal pelts, shoving bones through our noses, and killing our digital dinner by clubbing it to death with a tree branch. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

If the folks in the room have trouble with it (Fortune 500 companies, yo), you're allowed to scratch your head a bit when it comes to measuring the real-world results of your social media efforts.

Point #2: Social is a mindset, not a set of tools

Social media is an easy term for folks to grab onto. Social media, for most folks represents networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. But the "social" part of "social media" represents more than a few webpages.

Social media represents a mind shift in society that says, "I have input. I can contribute. I have the power.

Presenter Amy Gershkoff from Obama for America put it this way, "Volume no longer guarantees impressions on any sort of level." In other words, if people don't like what you're saying, they can simply tune you out and turn you off! Social shifts the power back the consumer/user and away from the organization/corporation.

To be a social organization means that you've permanently turned all company roads into two-way streets. There is no more monologue, i.e. "info-dumping". There is only dialogueMichael Lazerow of Buddy Media predicted that 2012 would be "the year of Tumblr" because of the "two-way nature of it." Mark my words, you'll need to be social to survive. Church, business, nonprofit and anywhere in between!

Point #3: Social media metrics require action

This was the least-talked about main point but it resonated with me the most. When you begin to measure social media metrics, you can quickly get a high from the fresh flow of information and data. "I know everything!" (Pictures of Agent Smith from The Matrix come to mind, cackling like a crackhead after he nabs the Oracle's eyes. "I can see all!", he exclaims.)

When we turn the data hose on, we have to be careful to not collect data for the sake of data. You need to be proactive with those numbers and make changes accordingly. As I learned, analytics are powerful. According to Harry Blodget, companies that collect and leverage social data outpace their competitors by 225%. Two-hundred and twenty-five percent! That's not an insignificant number, to put it lightly.

Ultimately, numbers and data exist to be acted upon. If you're using analytics on your website or social media (which you should be doing), don't let that rich data die on the vine. Resolve to do something with it, whether it's changing some text on your front page or the location of links in the tweets you send out.

This conference was a short one, but it impacted my thinking on social data greatly. I walked away believing that measuring social media efforts was not, in fact, out of my reach. That alone was worth the price!

Have you ever felt like measuring social media data is a challenge you're not up to? How have you measured your efforts so far? What has worked? What hasn't?