“Evaluating social media” – give me a break

Ooooooh, I am cross. Clearly, as are we all, I am a member of endless online networking fora, in the blind hope that one day I might ecounter someone who’s not either trying to sell me something or wishing to suck my brain dry for free or an ex (or current) colleague for whom time obviously weighs rather heavy. I’m actually hoping that I’ll encounter someone that I can sell something to, or whose brain I can suck dry at no cost. And I know all I want to know about my colleagues, so I see no real need to connect with them online.

Anyway, as you know, gentle reader, the internet is just one big ethereal balloon full of questions – and these online networking fora seem to have been allocated more than their fair share (see point above ref sucking brains dry gratis and for nothing). Unsuprisingly, as the whirlpool of hype around the use of social media for communications purposes continues to get wilder and louder and drags more people into its evil clutches, so the amount of questions – often from those who should know better – about evaluating social media gets greater and greater.

So, for your delight and delectation, here is the answer I posted to the question:

“Quantative research on social media is evolving quite fast, however what’s up with evaluative research of social media? Is anyone measuring the qualitative value of social media relationships and what are the basic criteria for this kind of measurement?”

I said: “At the risk of being a Luddite (and, potentially, in the future, being the modern day equivalent of the numpty who said that “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”) why would you want qualitative research on social media? Trust me on this one, we’re still trying to find some sort of meaningful evaluation system for “traditional” PR and communications, so what makes anyone think that they can perform serious research into social media? The beauty of social media – and indeed, t’internet as a whole – is that it is unregulated and therefore – QED – unquantifiable. Don’t ignore social media. But from my point of view, until someone comes along and demonstrates not just how much reach it has, but how it impacts on its participants, then I, for one, shall treat social media as second-string to “traditional media” which – while it still cannot be evaluated satisfactorily (and anyone who’s even thinking AVE should be quietly put down) is at least measurable in terms of audience.”

Since then, I’ve developed what I’m calling the ‘Fish’ theory of social media vs traditional media – but, hey, that’s another post.

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