If you can’t define it, you can’t measure it

Magna, a marketing/advertising forecasting company, has stopped forecasting social media spending because it believes “social media” doesn’t have a common meaning, Online Media Daily reports.

The story notes that Magna’s previous estimate of annual social media spending, in July 2008, was $1.474 billion, up about 37 percent from the previous year.  It’s forecasts like these that can help you determine how much to invest in social media, and how quickly you need to move. 

So it’s a shame that Magna’s given this up.  However, Magna’s action is very brave.   It made the decision to be truly useful rather than to just stick a number out there just because it did it before. 

Instead of producing a forecast, Magna published a Facebook note that lists ways companies can define social media for themselves.  Then it will be up to each company to determine how to measure its own results.  

I’ll be surveying news orgs. on this for my presentation on social media metrics for the Knight Digital Media Center in late July….I welcome any thoughts!