#TBT: Too Small to Meter, But Not Too Small to Matter

Happy #TBT. To celebrate, we’re sharing an oldie-but-goodie post from JimToo Small to Meter, But Not Too Small to Matter.

I’ve got a mixed relationship with the business chestnut, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Of course, you can manage things you can’t measure. We do this all the time in our personal lives, and if I asked my friends to fill out a survey about how I’m treating them, well, I imagine that alone would cause my scores to go down.

On the other hand, good measurement in many cases is the absolute key to good results. But some things just don’t yield to measurement very well.

For example, what’s the value of changing a light bulb in your lobby?

What’s the value of updating collateral materials to avoid distributing a logo you stopped using two years ago?

What’s the value of answering the phone when a customer calls with a seat change request?

I’ll tell you. The value of all these things is Yes. As in, “Yes, we need to do them.”

And that’s what I thought about when I read an article about the value of a Facebook fan that got circulated last week.

Here’s a quick recap of what it says:

A social media consulting firm decided to try to ascribe a dollar value to a follower on Facebook or similar social media sites, where a company might have a “fan” or a “follower.” To do this, they make some assumptions and tried to put it in terms that are reasonably objective, so what they came up with was pricing “impressions” that would come from followers putting items into their news feeds that others might see.

They determined that each fan generates about one impression per posting (if I got that right), and they valued impressions at $5 per thousand. Cook it all up and annualize it, and it adds up to about $3.60 per year per fan.

Confused by the numbers? Don’t worry about it. They’re not to be taken overly seriously, as I think even Vitrue (the firm that did the analysis) would admit.

It was probably an exercise that they had to do to placate a customer who was demanding an ROI calculation to placate a less-than-with-it senior exec in the customer’s firm, and they thought they might as well share it with the world.

So while it’s true that you could get away with all of the things I mentioned above, letting light bulbs burn out unreplaced or keeping old materials on hand that are 90% OK, you will undoubtedly pay a price. But since you’ll hardly notice a difference if you do them at first, it’s tempting not to worry about them.

But few organizations let those kinds of things go because they know that it has an impact, a cost, a drag on results that is real but hard to pin down. Dead light bulbs in the lobby? They gradually give the impression of carelessness and slovenliness at your venue. Gradually.

Likewise, you could skip building an audience on Facebook, Twitter or whatever social media tools are right for you.

And you’ll never (probably never) hear it in a survey. It’s too minor for people to mention, but, and this is very important, not too minor for them to notice.

You can be sure that when people notice something, it has an impact.

These are things that are too small to meter, but not too small to matter.

Having a relationship with “fans” or “followers” on Facebook and other sites has less to do with the media value of impressions and more to do with building a better relationship with them. If you use these tools well, you can create a communication dynamic that’s not possible anywhere else. Your fans will feel like they have access, input and a more personal relationship with you.

Should that lead to better revenues and satisfaction from these people? Yes, but it might be hard to pick it out in any form of data because, well, the data is pretty noisy.

Instead, look at the interactions. Are the people talking about you and your value proposition? Are they taking steps to go deeper in their relationship with your organization? Are they getting questions answered that would otherwise have gone unanswered? Do they feel like your organization is populated by human beings instead of corporate drones?

If so, then there’s value. Count on it. Each individual interaction may be too faint in its impact to pick up on a survey, but taken together, it accumulates.

Just because it’s too small to meter doesn’t mean it’s too small to matter.

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