Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fans and Followers; Apples and Oranges?

“Think of it like a nutrition label”

I keep hearing this come up... with respect to LEED certification on buildings, Wal-Mart’s sustainability index, and several other newsworthy scoring systems of late.

Is a nutrition label the ultimate scorecard?

What’s interesting about nutrition labels is that they present several numbers-- everything isn’t added up into a single grade or score. In today’s business world, there’s a tendency to add everything up, particularly when it comes to incorporating social media metrics as KPIs.

This is a trap!

One number doesn’t necessarily provide a shortcut to all the varied aspects of business. That’s not to say we should open the floodgates and serve up raw data. Like individual food items impacting your nutritional profile, several variables play roles in your overall social media presence and your overall business performance.

A scorecard should provide guidance on what we cannot immediately discern the health of, be it a food, community, or business. The trick is to find the right level of aggregation. That is, we need to elevate low level behaviors to the appropriate categories and then leave them there, not continue to aggregate (i.e. create one score).

Edelman’s SMI was one of the first to add things up across platforms. At the time, it was pioneering and innovative. Jonny Bentwood and David Brain were creative and transparent about their methodology. They were also wary of and vocal about the subjectivity involved.
“This is definitely adding apples to oranges we admit. So for example, we are placing a score for Facebook depending on the number of friends someone has. For Twitter, it is the number of friends, followers and updates. And if that is not insulting enough, we are then coming to a comparative weighting of someone’s Facebook score against their Twitter and blogging score. And the most sinful step is of course the final one where we have added those scores together and come up with a total Social Media Index.”
You, like the rest of the business world, are probably interested in building the ultimate scorecard. You might even be engaging in methodology like the above.

Make sure you are highlighting the right aspects of your business-- things that measure important movement and things that matter to those who consume the numbers. Choose metrics that impact your “overall meal”-- like calories and fat, but also recognize there is value in certain parts of the whole, like qualitative assessments.

What does your organization's nutrition label look like?

[This post is cross-posted on the Dachis Group Collaboratory]