Meaning of Metrics: ‘Social beliefs’

I’m taking a course, “Social Media: Metrics/ Consumers,” which will inspire a series of blog posts about how to measure online impact beyond simple clicks, likes and favorites. Bear with me if it seems hypocritical for someone with less than 10 posts at the moment! I’m interested in sharing my learning.

The first assignment asks for some reflection on how ways of measuring content have changed through the years.

Five or ten years ago, I don’t think the average consumer was as aware of the ways brands measured the success of advertising campaigns. Even though social media existed, I get the feeling the conversation was held behind closed doors with PR strategists, advertising directors and the head of the company (“Mad Men” pitch meetings come to mind).

Now that even the word ‘PR’ seems old-fashioned and branding is accomplished through public social media tools to which most consumers have at least some access, measuring the impact of an ad or campaign seems like less of a secret. I also think decades of consumers speaking back to advertising (especially when it’s sexist) has literally changed the ads we are being shown.

Take the Super Bowl. Five years ago, I would have just taken it as a matter of course that I would see half-naked women hawking everything from snack food to cars to website domain services (Go Daddy, anyone?) But feminists took to blogs, and The Representation Project promoted response to these depictions through the #NotBuyingIt hashtag. If it wasn’t for that action, I doubt we would be seeing this Dove commercial about how real men show strength through caring or watching Proctor & Gamble break down gender myths in ‘Like a Girl.’

Still image from Proctor & Gamble 'Like A Girl' commercial
Still image from Always’ ‘Like A Girl’ commercial

Jen Posner’s insightful media literacy text “Reality Bites Back” refers to an interview with reality show producer Mike Darnell, in which he confesses “you need a premise that’s easy to understand, that’s steeped in some social belief.” In the reality TV world, the social beliefs are retrograde assumptions about gender, race and class. But in advertising, more progressive ‘social beliefs’ have finally gained some footing, even if the true aim is to sell soap and feminine hygiene products.

On that note, Ann Friedman offers all-too-true analysis in “The Problem with those ‘Feminist’ Super Bowl Ads” –  “most of the ads are hollow: soaring messages with few concrete policies or actions behind them.” Actual social change goes beyond slogans and good PR (there’s that word again), not just monetizing statistics that show women are more prolific tweeters and would respond to this empowerful message. I’m sure we’ll see the writing on the digital wall and realize we’re being played.



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