The Social Debate

Posted on November 30th, 2012 by True Media

Our media director Chris Evans sent an email to the social department this week. The subject line said “let’s discuss.” The email contained a link to this article for us to debate at our next social recap meeting.

Dan Zarrella, a self-proclaimed “social media scientist” at HubSpot claims to have come up with a formula for calculating the value of a Facebook “like.”
Now, I’ve heard this debate over and over in the 2 1/2 years I’ve been working in social media. It comes up all the time, and each time someone has a new way to measure social media that just doesn’t quite fit. Here are some excerpts to the debate this article sparked from the marketers in my office.
Korrie, Social Media Associate -“How could this formula work for calculating the value of a like when the likes cancel each other out in the equation? This formula seems to compare numbers arbitrarily – for example total likes vs. average unlikes over time. Way too complicated for a result that misses the point”
Angela, (that’s me) – “Focusing on applying traditional type marketing metrics to social media just doesn’t work. A “like” is just part of the puzzle, just one piece. An important one sure, but I would never assign a value to a like on a page. The only time I’d do that is when I run a campaign and I measure the cost to gain a like, to get them to opt in to what’s important, which is brand engagement.”
Sean, Interactive Director -“It would be like assigning a dollar figure to a relationship, what is the financial value of your professional networking? There’s so much more to it, audience reach and response rates. Metrics are important, but we should pay attention to what is intrinsic to the social experience. And that’s all about relationships.”
Ryan, Digital Specialist- “It’s like the interplay between poker players (and he would know, check him out on LinkedIn). You know that there’s a percentage of the time that people will fold when you bluff. You don’t know what that percentage is but you know it exists. It changes all the time, and is different every time you sit down across from someone to play. At some point you make an educated guess . The value of a like is the same concept. You know there’s value to it but it’s hard to monetize that value. Yet you know it exists.”
Interesting huh? This is the debate surrounding social metrics, and we work in it every day. I can just imagine how tough it is for our clients to grasp, when they are looking for ROI, which is never the first thing I focus on for a social campaign. It’s an intricate concept to try and equate financial value to organic content and the relationship between the brand and it’s audience. I am going to test Dan’s equation. Hubspot is a leader in the social space, and we have clients that love working with them. Their white papers are top notch.
But I’m always skeptical when someone asks me to assign a value to a like.