Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why Social Media Stats Are Specious

In naming Delta Airlines's Twitter channel a winner of its Digital PR and Social Media Awards, PR Daily wrote, "What are the program’s payoffs? Check out these 2011 statistics." Several big numbers were then trodden out:

• 158,000 mentions on Twitter
• 115,000 outbound tweets and direct messages

This is exactly how not to cite social media stats. This is like saying, If you Google [Delta Airlines], you'll get 80.2 million webpages. That's nice, but what does this mean?

Instead of throwing around impressive-sounding stats, cite numbers that have real-world value. For example, did Twitter serve as an early warning system to identify problems before they spiraled? How many issues did tweeting help you resolve in real time? How many corporate testimonials—i.e., happy customers—did your tweets give rise to?

Note: PR Daily references a third statistic, "28,000 additional customers," but it's unclear what this means.

Related: Show Me the Numbers and Facebook and Hiding Posts