Wednesday, April 13, 2016

why I don't bother with social media analytics

WARNING: if you're a social media manager or consultant, you should probably stop reading now.

For the rest of you (and those brave enough to remain!), here's why I personally think that the industry around analytics of our on-line activity (page views, number of likes, followers, and such like) is potentially damaging to our respective enterprises. But as with all my ideas, I also recognise that this won't be true for everyone, and that it's a biased/prejudiced view that I hold which is based on my experiences to date (but which hasn't stopped from being nominated as the lead advisor in several funded local and national enterprise support programmes on using social media...)

1) a few years back I was identified as one of the top500 most influential people on twitter, but at the time had less than 1,000 followers (out of over 300 million users) and also (horror of horrors), didn't even have a smartphone to tweet from on the move! (I've also become a hashtag on twitter on several occasions!)
Conclusion: the engagement and relationships I try and nurture through twitter via conversations, etc, is what's important. Not the number of people who follow me (although it's always nice to have more to reassure my ego ;-)

2) I have a lovely website supported by Smart Bear, with google analytics running in the back of it. However the site's there not as a sales tool, but as part of my personal brand, and also as part of meeting clients and markets expectations of me. I know from conversations with clients and others that most people don't look at it (although that have are always complementary)

3) I've an active profile across 13 different social media channels (far too many to list here - but just got started on Vine!), because I recognise that not everyone likes twitter (but 300 million do!), not everyone gets on with facebook, some people are into slideshares, and others into hipster photos - as the work I do and support I offer sees in a wide variety of communities and sectors, I think it's important to show some respect where possible by engaging with clients through their preferred on-line channel (see point 2).

4) But ultimately, all the analytic reports I see always leave me asking "so what?". 
What's the point of thousands of sign ups if none of them want to actually talk with you or buy your product. What's the point of having more followers on twitter if you never get to meet them in person to find out what they like and how you can support each others endeavours in the future?

Of course, all of this is a very biased view drawn from my own experience and business model - I'm not an on-line retailer for whom I recognise such analytics are crucial in understanding where effort is being wasted in reaching customers and where to invest more time and resource.

So I'm writing this as a cautionary note, as I see too many entrepreneurs and enterprises getting caught up in the hype of analytics, when at best it's only a distraction to their business model.

I also like the way the vooza summed it all up in one of their typically excellent short vids debunking hype around trends and fashions in enterprise: 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

does anyone really care how far we're open and transparent in how we do business?

In recent news, there's been a furore of activity over leaked papers about tax havens and money laundering by an international finance firm on behalf of the rich and famous, (allegedly). 
This comes on the back of various campaigns and calls for big business to be more responsible in paying tax and treating employees and people in their supply chain with dignity and respect.
And all of this comes on the back of previous movements around fairtrade, environmental impact, sustainability, and such like.

You would think that all of the media coverage of these themes means that as consumers we've a keen interest in how responsible the businesses we spend our money with are acting, and calling them to ever greater account through demanding that they're more open in how they work.
And yet, anecdotally despite petitions and campaigns, most people I know still shop with the likes of Amazon, buy coffee from Starbucks, and similar... so my question is that while we're outraged when we hear of such unethical corporate behaviour, if it doesn't change our own personal behaviours, actions, and shopping choices, do we really care that much?

Because if we don't, then why should firms strive to be more open and transparent in how they do business?

Many of the businesses I support are social and charitable enterprises, and there's been various encouragements to them over the years to show such openness through reporting on their social impact. And yet researches and surveys show that increasingly, when they do, it's making less of a difference to their customers in influencing their purchasing from them.
For myself - as the only freelance consultant globally (to my knowledge) to openly publish an impact report on myself with openness about my supply chain and other business activities, I know that doing so has never made any difference to my clients and customers final decisions about engaging and commissioning me (I know this, because I ask them!).

So with all the calls for more openness and transparency, I'd like to start another call - this time to start a conversation about what we as consumers really would like those businesses and firms to be open and transparent about, and if they start to, if we'll actually read and act on them...