The Scientific Approach to Social Media

“Social media is an enormous focus group.”

So said Matthew Zito, Chief Strategy Officer at Synthesio on Day 2 of Social Media Week in New York. His presentation, the colorfully named Avoid Social Chimpery: Use Social ROI To Build Quality Campaigns And Stop Flinging Crap! focused on taking a more scientific approach to social media than many in the audience seemed used to.

Chimpery, for those of us who were new to the term, is a noun that means:

    1. The act of mistaking motion for progress
    2. Diffuse, undifferentiated activity without a clear goal
    3. Flinging one’s shit and shrieking at the top of one’s lungs in lieu of actually solving a problem.


His point was that there is a lot social marketers can do to more accurately evaluate the success of a program. Likes or followers are nice, but if you’re really trying to measure or justify your efforts, they’re just the beginning and not a measurement of consumer behavior.

To emphasize the point, he asked (I’m paraphrasing here) how many in the audience develop social media programs.

Almost everyone raised their hands, of course.

Then he asked, “How many of you plot out each stage of your customer lifecycle?” (representing business-facing KPIs).

Most of the hands went down (though not the Digitas Health team’s).

According to Mr. Zito, those lowered hands are missing a big opportunity. Social analytics can reveal:

      • Who are these people?
      • What are they seeing?
      • What are they saying?
      • Where are they having conversations?


And answering those questions can in turn reveal a lot more about the success of a social media program. It’s not rocket science, but it is science — the kind experienced marketers, such as those at Digitas Health, have been doing for years. We learn everything we can about a customer to identify opportunities for interventions and, ultimately, success.