When is a social media “visitor” not a visitor?

February 22, 2012 at 8:37 am Leave a comment

I’ve been looking into recently what constitutes a ” visit” or “action” on social media platforms. This may seem straightforward as on websites it’s well established what constitutes a “visitor“. However, in social media there is a lot of variation in what constitutes a “visitor” or “action”.  Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in the Dealbook blog about what Facebook considers as a “visit”. He notes that Facebook says it has 483 million “daily active users”. Within this it counts visits to its web and mobile websites – which seems legitimate. But it also includes those who visit third party websites and click on a Facebook “Like” button; those who share a Twitter post on their Facebook page; and those who leave a comment on such a website that then gets fed into Facebook. Rightly so, Sorkin is astounded by including such “visits” (which largely inflates visitor numbers of course).

For me, Facebook should count these so called “active users” as “actions” – they are more so actions using Facebook features/tools but not actual visits to the website.

Measuring activity on Twitter also throws up some interesting questions. There are many services that measure activity on Twitter, mostly based on the use of the Twitter #hastags. You can find out all sorts of interesting statistics such as how many people used a hashtag, how many people and how many times they received a Tweet containing a hashtag, etc.  For example, you can see that a hashtag generated by a campaign was used by 1000s of people that then reached millions. But what does that actually mean? In reality it means that millions have received a Tweet containing a hashtag that they may or may not have looked at – and the hashtag may or may not have been used in a Tweet in a way compatible or not with the original intention of the campaign that created it. So there is more work to be done as to what is the impact of message exposure through Twitter and other social media.

For those interested in this subject, here is an interesting post from Metrics Man on three fundamentals of social media measurement>>

Entry filed under: Social media monitoring. Tags: .

2 day training workshop: Realist evaluation for complex programs, Berne, May 2012 Guide to evaluating communication products

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