Why Social Media is More Measurable Than Traditional Media |

Information About The Book!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. In nibh sapien, aliquet tincidunt fringilla at, feugiat quis enim. Cras consequat, ipsum et posuere venenatis, nulla massa mattis eros, sed varius turpis quam sit amet purus. Vestibulum vehicula consectetur congue. Sed facilisis nisi in lectus convallis, porttitor hendrerit est consequat. Vivamus hendrerit, ante sed ornare molestie, tortor lorem suscipit tortor, id sodales mauris metus quis purus. Nulla egestas tellus eu enim consectetur, sit amet sagittis nisl eleifend. Mauris laoreet venenatis sem, lacinia mollis augue mollis ac. Nulla a neque a justo dignissim feugiat. Mauris rhoncus eros sit amet augue dictum fringilla. Nunc dictum lobortis convallis.


Aenean vulputate urna est, ac sollicitudin enim vulputate et. Vestibulum tempus lacinia consequat. Donec posuere enim mi, vel lobortis erat pulvinar nec. Duis felis purus, adipiscing sed dolor at, volutpat sagittis magna. Sed imperdiet scelerisque mauris, vulputate dictum augue egestas sit amet. Nullam sit amet eros non purus fermentum dapibus ac a mi. Curabitur id viverra nibh. Donec scelerisque vulputate nunc, non interdum orci. Morbi ut quam eleifend, placerat ipsum eget, iaculis arcu. Curabitur blandit consequat nulla. Praesent non pellentesque neque. Duis tortor purus, dignissim sit amet sagittis egestas, feugiat nec elit. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam pellentesque lectus nec arcu ullamcorper, a vulputate augue semper. Duis auctor velit in nisl scelerisque consectetur. Sed ornare quam diam, at placerat risus tristique at.


Vivamus vel facilisis ante, vel porttitor metus. Sed eu congue nibh. Fusce non diam ut enim pretium pellentesque. Vivamus quis euismod quam, non aliquet risus. Etiam ornare lorem sit amet gravida eleifend. Cras quis nibh pretium, pretium turpis consectetur, lobortis leo. Phasellus sed vestibulum metus, id vestibulum odio. Donec quis nisl ante. Fusce tristique sagittis erat ut bibendum.

Print Friendly
First Name * Email *

Endorsed by the Chairman of KPMG, CEO of Whirlpool, CEO of Intuit, CEO of SAP, Gary Hamel & others!

Why Social Media is More Measurable Than Traditional Media

Posted by on November 12, 2008

We all keep hearing about the ROI from social media and how difficult it is to actually measure the results from social media campaigns.  It’s true, tracking the overall ROI from social media is not entirely possible since there is a large qualitative and not quantitative aspect involved.  However, there is a lot that we can measure in social media.  In fact, I’m arguing that social media is actually more measurable then traditional media.

Traditional media campaigns rely on eyeballs, meaning the amount of people who actually see the ad.  Think about the companies that buy a full page spread in The Wall Street Journal or N.Y. Times.  How much do you think that costs?  According the information I found, a full page ad in The Wall Street Journal costs around $175,000A 30 second commercial costs around $350,000, Billboards are around $25,000/year and Radio ads run around $5,000/week.  Of course, these are just a few of the prices I found and these are just a few of the examples of different types of traditional media.  So how do you measure the success of these massive costs?  Well, you try to figure out how many people saw the ad, it’s like measuring the success of your Adsense campaigns strictly by impressions, not very effective.  Companies also conduct surveys, ask questions, etc. to judge the success of these campaigns, but overall they’re really not THAT measurable.  Traditional media relies on one way communication with as many people as possible, but then what?  Our attention is decreasing, now more then ever it’s easy for us to ignore ads.  All we have to do is click the back button, change the channel or the station, or turn our heads; which in most cases is exactly what we do.

Now let’s take a look at social media and some of the things we can measure.  As you know most of the platforms and tools are free and the majority of the cost falls under “time” (unless of course you are building a micro-site or some sort of customized social media platform/game/etc.).  I’m just going to make a quick bulleted list of some of the things we can measure:

  • traffic to a site, there are many ways to measure this i.e. referral sites, organic listings, etc.
  • amount of conversation/number of comments that you receive
  • overall brand image, if one month ago people were slamming your brand and are now singing praises about it, that’s a success
  • amount of times something is shared with other people
  • the number of sales or increase in revenue, you can track this by using analytics programs and setting up funnels/goals to track conversion paths
  • number of rss subscribers/followers/people that want to engage and interact with you or your brand
  • number of inbound links to a page or site, which can subsequently affect the search rankings

These are quite a few things we can measure from social media campaigns; far more then what we can measure through traditional media campaigns.  Now, one of the most important things we can’t measure through social media is the overall ROI due to quality of conversation/interaction.  You can look at the quantity of comments as a possible metric but it doesn’t paint an accurate picture.  If you only receive one comment that changes the direction of your business for the better, but you’re using the number of comments as a success metric, does that mean you fail?  No.

The key to understanding social media success and ROI is not to look at individual metrics because you will completely misrepresent and misunderstand its effect.  You need to look at many variables as a whole to see the big picture and overall social media impact.

Social media success is also tough to predict.  With traditional media you can have a very good idea of how many people will see the ad(s) before you launch a campaign.  With social media you cannot predict many of the variables mentioned above but once you get involved you can understand its impact and you can make it grow.  It’s an interesting concept to grasp but it’s one of those things you can’t measure or predict, unless you get involved.

Do you agree or disagree?  What’s more measurable social media or traditional media, and why?

Thanks for reading

Print Friendly
First Name * Email *
  • http://www.dailaxioms.com Drew Gneiser

    I always thought it was kind of funny that just because USA Today has 2,281,831 subscribers (and more readers), that means, you can measure 2,281,831 impressions. Like you point out Jacob, people filter. In order to function in the world we are constantly ignoring thousands of messages every day.

    Social media is also tricky. Not only is there no one unified way to measure the results of online efforts, 80% of people (and business people) doubt the measurements that are out there. Whether it is right or not, having a “good” conversation with someone online is still hard for most people to consider beneficial for business and ROI (which is kind of ironic considering what they do consider an valuable, big number USA Today readership). Seems that the traditional media measurements are blindly believed and taken as truth, while they have just as many faults as social media measurements.

    I can't say which is more measurable. The question may be which is more valuable, not more measurable.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      hey drew, social media still is tricky but I think there are more metrics you can use to measure it. overall though there is a large qualitative aspect that cannot be measured.

      i think a lot of social media folks doubt the measurement of ROI and i tend to agree, measuring the ROI of social media is not entirely possible, but there are certain metrics out there like traffic, links, etc. that we can use to gauge some sort of impact.

      the question of what is more valuable is a whole other can of worms :) and i think it depends on the business. i cant imagine that companies are ever going to completely cut off traditional media spend.

      thanks for the comment!

  • http://twitter.com/dzelikman Dan Zelikman

    I think that social media has already defined itself as the next chapter in our book of communication tools. That being said as important as analytics and value are, (believe me I know its all I preach as an interactive planner) I think basic presence and accessibility exceed all other priorities. As an individual promoting themselves, or a company staying in touch with their customer base, as long as you are being transparent and truthful I don't think you can really go wrong in the use of social media. Now, when the question of how much time you devote to the cause and the amount of money associated to it comes up, well… thats a horse of a different color.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      hey dan, i tend to agree, online presence and brand image is crucial to social media. social media is growing, however I think we need to distinguish social media i.e. twitter, facebook, etc. from social media strategy i.e. aligning the use of tools such as twitter/etc. to meet company goals/objectives.

      horse of a different color…i love it!

      thanks for reading and commenting!

  • http://www.fancast.com Robin

    Nice post. I agree with you. It is about quality not quanity. However, it is hard when you go to finance to ask for money for social media versus a tradional media buy.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      howdy robin,
      it is tough to ask for money when you go for sm, however when you bring up case studies and measurement factors it can make it easier. if your company won't approve social media, quit and find another one that will :)

      thanks for reading and commenting!

  • http://www.tomvanlerberghe.com Tom Vanlerberghe

    Though I would like to adopt the idea, I just can't.
    You can't compare traditional and social media or their ROI. At the moment, the goals are still different and it depends too much on what you're trying to communicate. Traditional media will carry your message to a broad public, with social media, you can target specific groups. Traditional media, in what form whatsoever is the backbone of your campaign, if you cut it, you'll lose all footing. It's not because you can measure one thing better than the other that this should mean you should shift your budgets. Even if traditional media is expensive, it's still has its purpose. There's no pareto principle here. The biggest problem is most companies try to figure out their ROI on each separate thing, so they may conclude that television ads don't work.

    Though I have cut back on my traditional media spendings (about 10%) I wouldn't dream of cutting them of completely, even if my social media campaign turns out to be a huge success. One always influences the other.

    If someone's up for the challenge, they should figure out a way to calculate the total ROI of a campaign and the reciprocal influence each aspect of that campaign has on the other.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      hey tom,
      you're right the goals really are different. traditional media is all about being “there,” it's about eyeballs seeing your product or logo. social media is about connecting and interacting with the users, it;s about knowledge/info sharing. i dont think if you cut all traditional media you will loose your footing….well actually this depends on the size of the company and the product. there are plenty of companies out there that have never purchased t.v. spots or radio ads that are doing great. but i see your point.

      i wouldn't expect companies to completely cut their traditional media spend at all, for an enterprise such as apple or microsoft it is still important to reach the broad spectrum of people out there. however enterprise companies could also be doing a lot more on the social media front.

      i think there are also a lot of creative and strategic ways to combine the use of traditional media and social media, so far we have not seen anybody do this. they are too fragmented at the moment.

      thanks for reading and commenting tom, always good to hear your thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/k_hill Kevin Hill

    Good angle on comparing social media ROI to that of traditional media. It seems that most people make the mistake of comparing social media marketing to other kinds of internet marketing, like SEM and PPC, where it can't help but lose. The comparison to traditional media makes a lot more sense since both play into long term branding strategies that don't necessarily have (or aim for) measurable return in the short term.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      hey kevin,
      in general it is a bit tricky to compare different forms of marketing as they usually have different goals and objectives. that being said I think we need to do a much better job of integrating marketing platforms and strategies together. it feels like marketing channels are at war with each other when in fact they should be supporting each other.

      thanks for reading and commenting kevin!

  • Stuartfoster

    Wow…I never really thought about Social Media as being more measurable then traditional media. However, your argument has persuaded me. Distinct impressions from Print, Television and Radio all need to have inquiries to be measured…and even that is difficult to locate. With Social Media, you can identify click throughs down to the IP. I guess we all just need to learn to adapt to the new ways of measuring and use it in our presentations/arguments for social media.

  • http://www.publicchalk.com Damian

    I think that social media is probably just as measurable as traditional media – but that measuring it is more complex. It probably does, though , have a much bigger impact to a brand overall given the very nature of being social. If you make a big splash in a positive direction that will spread quickly among your entire network. And, of course, if you make a big splash in a negative direction it will spread even more quickly across your network.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      hey damian,

      hey damian, even if you make a negative splash you can look at it as something positive because your users will tell you what they didn't like, think of it as a free online focus group. the problem with traditional media is that there is no “spread” factor.

      thanks for reading and commenting, hope to hear more from you!

  • Pingback: A plea for traditional media

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    I agree that it can be easier to track ROI via social media than traditional advertising – yet the same methods can be used for traditional over social advertising.

    If a company has a website (and if they don't, why not?) they can have an option on there asking how a visitor found out about them. This is where you can track traditional methods.

    The same applies for calls into a company resulting from a newspaper of TV ad. Get the salesperson/customer service advisor to ask where the caller heard about the company.

    Direct mail flyers have always been a great way to track ROI as well – offering incentives to return your contact details helps encourage responses, from which you can track.

    The way I look at it is that businesses should be using both methods – traditional and social media – to advertise their products. Then use the tracking for both to show what's being more effective. My thoughts are that both will be fairly similar – not everyone gets social media so that advertising would be wasted on them, while the reverse is true for those that get social media and aren't too worried about traditional marketing.

    Grabbing the best of both worlds is the way to win and stay ahead of your competitors.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      hey danny, great points. i agree with you, i think traditional and social media can really help each other out. i think the problem is that they are currently very fragmented and separated from one another. it;s definitely important to stay on top of both worlds but i think for an overall marketing campaign to work traditional and social media need to interact.

      thanks for reading and commenting!

      • http://freeworldmedia.com SeanWood

        Don't throw all your eggs into just one basket. The most powerful marketing campaigns successfully integrate both traditional and new marketing techniques. Of course, with new social media techniques comes new measurements.

        Keeping your message and brand consistent across all platforms is the real key.

        • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

          couldn't agree with you more. i wrote a post a while back on the importance of integrating the two together. it's now about one medium or one platform.

          thanks for the comment!

  • Pingback: The ROI of Social Media: Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck | claremunn.com

  • Pingback: Well of course it is « This Marketing Life

  • Pingback: Happy Hump Day — It’s Social Web Wednesday « amber.rae

  • http://ecotourismleavingfootprints.blogspot.com/ Guillaume

    You can also measure the increase in trafic, I guess implementing some tracking is possible. maybe the number of followers of your tweets, your feed, etc.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      traffic increases is definitely something you can measure, especially with free tools such as google analytics.

  • Pingback: Five in the Morning 121508 « StickyFigure

  • Pingback: Pages tagged "measurable"

  • http://zanesafrit.typepad.com Zane Safrit

    Great post. Great reminder that, yes, social media's metrics can be heavy on qualitative and light on quantitative. But if the qualitative doesn't eventually 'trickle down' into increased sales, increased cash-flows, higher conversion rates, more repeat purchases, lower hiring costs, lower employee turnover…they're meaningless.

  • CK

    The difference is that it is much harder to connect Social Media to a volume response. Those estimated XX impressions via traditional media can be linked to “spikes” in consumer consumption – it has very little to do with the actual impressions but with the change in business. Social Media unfortunately doesn't behave in the same discrete manner that typical awareness driving media does and those makes it harder to connect to volume changes, and thus much harder to connect to a quantitative ROI. Things like website traffic can be connected (as you have a very specific timespan involved) but will always underestimate the ROI of social media (usually drastically) as the majority of interaction and events happen “somewhere else”.

  • http://www.kdpaine.com Katie Paine

    Great stuff. Couldn't agree with you more. Have been saying this forever, and no one believed me. Now I'm no longer a lone voice crying in the wilderness! The good news is that the emetrics/web analytics guys get it as well

  • nickgonzalez

    I think there's too much of a focus on “social media” as a single entity. It's not one marketing channel, but instead several, which can each have their own success metrics attached. Apps have users and time on site, Twitter has followers and responses. The “social media” industry needs to do a better job of packaging social media as a product. Products have a defined process and verifiable results.

    When we say social media is more measurable but punt on the question of ROI, we're being lazy.

  • http://www.twitter.com/bluefishagency Greg Wood

    Jacob – late to this post. Found it from a google search. My take – good start. Check out Jeremiah Owayng's post on the same subject. He lists many companies that measure social media http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2006/11/25/c

    It's not about social media measurement against PPC or other online measurement. We have found that CMO's want to compare it to Reach / Frequency numbers that they have been digesting for decades form print and broadcast campaigns.

    Biggest issue to deal with is the value of engagement. Social media will never have the same eyeball count as traditional. But engagement happens as people interact and converse. Million dollar question: What is that worth? Crack that code and you can retire in 3 years :-)

  • jobseekers156

    Nice blog. well posted.
    For more jobs visit http://www.staffingpower.com

  • jobseekers156

    Nice blog. well posted.
    For more jobs visit http://www.staffingpower.com

  • http://www.bronzependantlights.net/stained-glass-pendant-lights stained glass pendant lights

    I’m not
    finished read this yet, but it’s so fabulous ‘n I’ll back again when I was
    finished my job :D

First Name * Email *