by Sandy Malloy, Information Services
Articles like this one in PR Daily make me cranky.
It’s not that I have anything against companies that sell social media analysis services. I do marvel, however, at the misguided emphasis on data that is debateably important (if not completely unnecessary, as I commented recently.) Just because software can measure a particular parameter does not mean it’s a key metric.
For example, social media analysis services often dwell on Twitter. In a recent study called The Social Habit 2011 conducted by Edison Research and Arbitron, researchers found that Twitter is as well known as Facebook in the U.S, (with 92% and 93% familiarity, respectively) yet only 8% of Americans use it. Other interesting insights:
- Facebook is not only more popular among Americans ages 12 and over, it reaches 51% of this group vs. just 8% for Twitter. (“Reaches” is defined as those who either “use” or “have” a profile page.)
- When it comes to interacting with brands and companies on social networks, Facebook rules with 80% reporting it as their preference vs. 6% for Twitter.
- The vast majority (72%) of those polled cited “none” as the social network they use for making buying decisions. Of those who turn to social networks for help in buying decisions, 24% use Facebook while only 1% use Twitter-a stunning 24-to-1 advantage.
So why is Twitter often emphasized in social media analysis? Because counting retweets and mentions is such an easy undertaking. It’s much more “do-able” than monitoring and analyzing Facebook posts because Twitter is open and Facebook is restricted (perhaps not restricted enough for some users). If a Facebook post is private, it is not captured by typical monitoring and analysis software.
Bottom line: at the moment, Facebook is much more influential than Twitter. Rather than simply accepting metrics skewed toward data which is a distant second in importance, use your own critical judgement and, as much as necessary, your own internal analytics, to create a realistic social media picture of your brand’s influence.