Running Up The Social Media Score

It turns out that Twitter is not much of a predictor of the future, at least when it comes to movie sales. After analyzing tweets during the Oscar season and comparing them to reviews at Rotten Tomatoes and other sites, Princeton researchers determined that although Twitter posters tend to be more positive than users who write reviews, that favorability failed to increase sales at the box office. Perhaps that’s because those positive tweeters were posting during the movie instead of paying attention to things like plot credibility and character development. Or maybe it’s that Twitter is an impulse medium -- careful thought is generally not a key ingredient in most tweets.

It’s unlikely, however, that the Princeton study will cause marketers and researchers to abandon the promise that social media data holds. In the last election cycle, Facebook’s political team said that its fans predicted more than 70% of key races based on their "likes." It tracked 98 of the most hotly contested House races; of these, 74% of the candidates with the most Facebook fans won their races. 



Although I have yet to see any convincing evidence why, a good deal of currency is being placed on racking up lots of "likes" and positive-sounding mentions in various forms of social media. Clearly these mean little for movie ticket sales, and I suspect they mean little in most cases -- mainly because they are not very specific. If you "like" this column, what is it you like? The overall topic? My take? One small line or two that struck a chord, or made you laugh? Does it make me your favorite columnist? Can I take anything to the bank?

I don't know about you, but I’m already tired of everybody asking me to "like" this or that. It's gotten nearly as annoying as those constant requests to participate in consumer satisfaction surveys every time you pick up the phone.  I have even had offers of discounts if I would provide favorable reviews on things like Angie's List. This is the downside of our new age of easy data collection.

Most folks I know are prone to vent their anger online rather than praise something they like. After all, if I have found a really nice new restaurant, the LAST thing I want is to help create a line out the door so that I can't get in anymore. I know parents who guard the identify of their kid's college entrance advisor like it is a state secret.

I am happy to reward an institution that has provided something exceptional in the way of services or pricing with a BRIEF review, but what do I say to those whose service is pretty routine when they plead for a "like" or a high score on some satisfaction survey? If I tell the truth, will they put sugar in my gas tank the next time I am in their parking lot? And at the end of the day, isn't it kind of unbecoming to even ask for a high score? Yet it happens all the time.

I suppose a higher score in anything (but golf) is better. But I can't really gauge appropriate values. For example, yesterday, privacy guru Alan Chapell rightly asked, "What does a high Klout score do for you? 

Does it help get business? 

Does it impress pretty girls when you oh so casually mention it at next week's Adtech parties? 

Does it get you an audience with the President?"

But that doesn't seem to matter in the Great 21st Century Rush to Like: no matter how or why you got the score, just get the highest score -- and market share will follow.

Or something "like" that.

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