Business Insider Social Media Analytics – Drinking from the Firehose: Which Metrics Matter Most?

Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Business Insider (moderator)

Christopher Frank, VP of B2B and Communications Research, American Express

Paul Magnone, VP of Business Development & Alliances, Opennet Telecom

The question of which social media metrics matter the most was posed to the co-authors of the book “Drinking form the Firehose”.  The biggest issue in social media metrics is knowing how to frame the problem.  What’s important? Is it sentiment? Is it volume of followers? Is it the number of Likes?  Frank believes that the most critical factor is the influence of your followers.


We’re still in a nascent stage of knowing how to allocate content and advertising spend in social, according to Frank.  Listening and counting is easy, but evaluating is hard.  Rather than spending so much on listening, money needs to be spend on content and determining what to do with it.  Companies need to close the loop between listening to customer reaction and responding accordingly.


The key to being successful in the marketing funnel online, according to Frank, is building trust.  Looking at how technology and the platform are evolving, Magnone sees it inevitable that customers will see hyper-targeted ads on their mobile devices.  However, unless the customer trusts the service providers, the customer will be more likely to “throw their phone through the window” than engage, in Blodget’s words.  Retailers and other stakeholders can build trust by being part of the conversation from the beginning, rather than just at the point of sale.


Influence must be based on the quality of content, not on the name of the influencer.  To identify influencers, you must look at what messages are posted and how they are amplified through social sharing.  American Express is using data scraped constantly from social sites.  From this, they can maintain a list of top influencers and top influencing sites that is constantly updated.


An audience member reminded the panel that you can’t bank on viral marketing.  Frank understands that product offers are hit or miss, but by understanding what topics are important to an audience (e.g., running a small business for the American Express Open Forum members), then the content creator has a good idea about which content can spread.

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