Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Social Media: Are You Getting What You Want?

With social media use at an all time high and continuing to show signs of strong growth now is a good time to start talking about what we expect it to deliver.

So far social media sites have dictated what we want, need and should expect. But just television, radio and even the early Internet eventually adapted to user demands, social media should start adapting.

Businesses have been among the strongest, if not THE strongest, groups of social media users. Unfortunately social media sites have been slow to recognize this fact and offer any of the things that business owners would like to see.
Chief among these is a functioning analytics service.

Social media marketers know just how difficult it is to provide a clear picture of how well their efforts are answering the needs of their clients. Facebook provides a lengthy amount of data through their "Insights" feature, but this information is murky, at best, and does little to show how impactful a Fan Page is for the customer.

Twitter is slightly better if only because it easy enough to track visits to your web site from Twitter. Though how people are supposed to find your account on Twitter short of searching a variety of terms or making a lucky guess are unclear.

There are sites designed to deliver social media analytics, but usually this results in reams of useless data which does little except baffle the client.

If social media sites expect to remain relevant they need to not only grow and evolve, they need to listen to the people who use their services. People have been talking about the obvious lack of social media analytics for more than a year now and yet no one has stepped up to deliver a viable alternative. Until social media recognizes this obvious deficiency, at least some business owners will be too afraid of wasting their time using social media marketing.

On Facebook

I'd love to be able to see, somewhere, a list of everyone who has liked a URL from my site that has been posted to Facebook. Or even just a reliable number of how many people might be on that list. As it stands now, I see different numbers on the "Like" buttons we post on the articles themselves, and on the links posted to my sites' Facebook pages. And I have no way to track likes of that URL if it is independently posted to FB by people with which I'm not friends or to whom I don't subscribe. C'mon, Facebook. Let publishers see exactly how many people like their stuff.

I'd also like to know what people are saying around Facebook about the pieces published to my websites. I've started using Facebook's comments application on one of my websites, and like how it cross-posts comments made on my site to commentors' Facebook walls (increasing the visibility of the post). But how cool would it be if I had the option to allow that app to also display all comments about that URL posted anywhere on Facebook? Or, if I didn't want to use Facebook's comments app, if I had the option on my site's Facebook page to pull in all FB comments about that piece? For pieces that generate hundreds of comments, give the page administrator the option to select the top comments for display on the page. Either way, this tool would encourage greater interaction between publishers and Facebook, and empower publishers to better connect with the audience that's talking about their work.

Click here to read more of blogger Robert Niles social media "wish list."

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