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Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Time to Usher Out the THUD Factor in Corporate Communications

Many articles and blog posts have been written about the various types of followers on Twitter.

For example, it's typical for someone who is brand new to Twitter to follow anyone who follows them - even if that follower has little or no reason to follow you or vice versa.  Social media strategist Greg Pincus calls this type of follower The Recipro-pal.  Another favorite of mine from Greg's list is what he calls The Aggressor -- out of the blue, they follow you.  If you've been on Twitter for a reasonable amount of time, you have experienced these Twitter follower types, and many other types as well.

Here's how I deal with the Recipro-pal and the Aggressor:  every couple of months I sort through my relatively modest list of Twitter followers to weed them out.  I feel I'm doing them a favor.  And I know I'm doing me a favor.

Last time I went through this exercise I blocked more than a hundred Twitter followers, which at the time reduced my number of followers by more than 15%.  Also blocked were the hard core selling types -- pay-per-click and SEO specialists, folks who assure me I can make a million dollars selling on-line, and the auto-DM crew.  Not that these people don't have something important to say. It's just that I'm not buying what they're selling and I know that they're following me for one reason and one reason only.

And every once in a while a prostitute slips through my Twitter filter and ultimately get blocked as well.

What's my point? The number of Twitter followers you or your company has doesn't say a single thing about your social media effectiveness.  Yet, the vast majority of corporate communications professionals in North America who participated in a recent Bulldog Reporter/Thomson Reuters study still cite the number of followers as their MOST used measure of social media effectiveness.  And almost as remarkable is that nearly three-quarters of the respondents count the number of visits to their company's website -- versus the number of high value visitors -- as the second most critical social media measure.

What floors me more even more than this, however, is that "clips remain king" in traditional media coverage.

Almost 74% of the respondents said the number of clips is the number one metric they use to measure the effectiveness of their traditional media campaigns closely followed by the number of impressions.  Unfortunately, it appears that our industry is still mired in the old way of doing things.  Are you experienced enough to remember the days of walking into your client's office with a six-inch thick clip book and dropping it on his or desk?  We called it the THUD factor then.  It appears, at least based on the Bulldog/Thompson survey results, the THUD factor is alive and well.

Earlier this summer the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), following its European Summit on Measurement, published the "Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles." 

There's a lot of good information in the Declaration with  most being evolutionary - not revolutionary.

And here are two key points from it that I think corporate communications pros must pay closer attention to if our industry is going to show progress against the objectives set forth at the Barcelon conference:

  • Overall clip counts and general impressions are usually meaningless.
  • (Social media) measurement must focus on "conversation" and "communities" not just "coverage."
Makes sense to me.  How about you?

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