Rules of Engagement: Finding The Holy Grail of Effective Social Metrics

One of the interesting things about doing “social marketing” (that’s FancySpeak for marketing through social networks) is that nobody really knows what they’re doing; “tried and tested” is just the stuff you did last month that happened to be more successful than the stuff you did the month before.

Thus, rules and goalposts are constantly changing and as a result, it’s difficult to offer meaningful or consistent measures of how good a job you’re doing and how effective your social strategy is.

With a few of the key statistics — reach and clicks to name two — essentially at the mercy of Facebook, Twitter and whichever other platforms you roll on, big changes in results can often happen through no particular fault of one’s own; it’s more often a case of a job well done being working with the changes to deliver the best results possible rather than straight off doing something different which results in results plummeting.

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The Google+ Conundrum

I’ve got a minor confession to make: I actually really like Google+. I wanted to like it before, but some of the features announced over the last couple of days coupled with the redesign have moved the service into the “this is a nice product” category.

I’ve even actually used it(!) to upload some photos I took whilst I was in Scotland recently and sent them to some family. It’s nice, and it works well. I like especially how the photo-sphere photos I’ve taken are displayed in a panorama-style, with the option to switch back to “normal”, and whilst the auto-correction was a little over-zealous on some photos, it generally worked very well (and made Scotland appear misleadingly sunny).

The big cycle the platform is stuck in at the moment is that nobody’s using it, so there’s no “social” or “network” and thus nobody’s using it. Whilst well-done features such as the new photo sharing may start to change that, there are still big flaws in the accessibility of the platform, and this mainly comes down to the Circles system.

Circles works in principle, just not in practice. The mix of public, partially public and private results in a system which is confusing for non-geeks and frustrating for geeks. With the aforementioned photos I uploaded, I was never entirely sure how I was sharing, and had to check my profile in a logged-out window to make sure I’d set sharing correctly.

That’s a big stumbling block and for the foreseeable future is going to prevent Google+ from becoming mainstream. It doesn’t make perfect sense to a mass-audience and thus a mass-audience isn’t going to be persuaded to make the switch.

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You don’t /have/ to be angry at the Daily Mail

Earlier this afternoon I got back from a lovely ten-day break with family in the small Scottish town of Dunoon. I’ve got a lot of family heritage there, and it was great to see the place everyone’s been talking about for so many years, and when it wasn’t raining, the scenery was really beautiful (when it is raining you can’t see the scenery).

Not having a laptop, I was entirely reliant on my phone for all technological access, and on the whole, that worked well. I was slightly too constant in my checking of the battery level at times, but once I got past the idea that “it’s actually fine if the battery runs out”, I was quite happy being computer-less.

As one would expect, I did a little bit of writing when I was away, and for that I used a bluetooth keyboard I got on Amazon for 10 quid. I didn’t spend long writing, but when I took a quick look over it earlier on, I was slightly amazed how much I’d written in not-very-much-time.

And then I stopped looking over what I’d written and went on Facebook.

And then I decided there wasn’t interesting on Facebook and checked Hacker News again.

This continued for a good twenty minutes or so until I realised I’d stopped being productive entirely. I don’t really like Facebook, and I’d been on Hacker News already, but the mere option to check them tempted me. Had this happened when I was writing this on my phone? Nope; the single-task, app based interface doesn’t allow for it. On the computer, though, the temptation’s there and I’m all over the place.

For me, the big problem is the “Speed Dial” that loads up every time I load a new tab. This lists a bunch of websites I visit frequently, and it results in me visiting Facebook every time I open a new tab cause the button’s there. Another one of my big speed dial time sinks is the Daily Mail.

Reading the Daily Mail generally just makes me angry, but it’s also just bizarrely intriguing and I’ll frequent it… frequently.

I didn’t go on it once when I was away, and you know what? I didn’t miss it at all. It’s now gone from Speed Dial, along with Facebook. I won’t be absent-mindedly clicking those any more, nor will I absent-mindedly wasting time on them.

You don’t have to be angry at the Daily Mail, right?