Monday, June 22, 2009
Peace, Love and New Age Metrics
It seems that with the popularity of Twitter these days everyone is trying to figure out how to make a buck with the service that has famously yet to figure out how to make money for itself. Every day I receive a few follower notices that turn out to be people hawking their "How to make [insert dollar amount here] per month from Twitter" plans that I'm convinced are the tip of some multi-level marketing ponzi scheme supporting a cult group. Of course, I promptly block these followers.
Today, however, I became aware of something different: a tweet from @EONpr tipped me off to an article about one company that has developed a system (as I understand it) to let advertisers buy brand-specific marketing "leads" as a list of Twitter users that have apparently opted-in to communications from the brand targeting them (huh?). The Cost-per-lead advertising concept is not a new one but the application of it to Twitter seems to be. While I'm a fan of measurement and applaud a company trying to find a legitimate way to build its own business and also serve the needs of advertisers, to my mind this example misses the point by grafting old media advertising concepts (CPL display advertising) onto Twitter. (Note: I hesitate to even call Twitter "new media" because I think the term underplays its potential power as a communication, conversation and engagement platform, but that is another discussion!)
The model also seems to fall into the same trap as marketing list firms claiming to sell "leads." I wouldn't call an address/email list of names "leads" and I wouldn't call a list of even opt-in Tweeps "leads." At best they are targets, people who might have mentioned a brand by name in a tweet and might like the brand (or not), or might have purchasing intent or influence. For something sold as "leads" that's a whole lot of mights and maybes — the kind of stuff salespeople hate and the stuff they bounce back to Marketing for qualification (and rightly so).
Even if the cost is minimal, how do you assign a value to an individual Tweep bought from a pay-per-lead list? Is it the number of people who follow them? But who says THOSE people are a value measurement? I think in the end it is wrong to try and apply measurements of certainty to Twitter (at least at the present time). The value of Twitter is probably more akin to the traditionally "squishy" concepts of branding that are hard to quantify: increased awareness, preference, loyalty and customer "delight" delivered through superior customer service — something Twitter can excel at. Maybe its okay for now to call it what it is and let Twitter do it's touchy-feely, new age thing. The hard numbers can come later.
@EONpr "Is Cost Per Twitter Lead the next sales metric?" 6/22/2009
Peter A. Prestipino. "Cost Per Twitter Lead?" Website Magazine. Jun 17 2009
Tie-dye shirt (without Twitter bird) by MpegMan via Wikimedia Commons. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license