I get asked all the time how best to measure social media marketing efforts and people never understand me fully when I explain to them, that you can't measure all of it. Yes, you can measure the number views, posts and hits and all of that is important and more measurable then most any other medium out there. But, the power of a social medium like the web, where every minute people are interacting with the thoughts of others means that you can't track it all.

Case in point,this morning when I bought myself new bag from Eagle Creek. (affiliate link)

I do a lot of traveling and have a feeling that I'm going to be doing a lot more of it in the future. On a recent trip I saw how two of my friends were packed and was shocked at how little their bags were compared to mine for the same trip. It is one of those rare times in life when smaller is better and I wanted it.

I looked online at a variety of bags, read reviews and scanned through piles of photos. But, I knew that I'd want to actually have hands on with something before buying it, but getting out to a luggage store has not fit in my schedule this past week so I never got around to it. But, as I'm gearing up to head to the NYC 140 Conference this week and while watching Up In The Air last night I got the itch really bad for a new bag.

This morning I woke up and just like most mornings I started surfing through my Google Reader to see what people were talking about. I saw this post from my buddy Chris reviewing a bag. I usually would have skipped right over this and not watched it, but because of what was on my mind I took the time to watch the review. I also noticed that in the text he mentioned that another close friend Mitch recommended the bag to him originally. I know how much Mitch travels and know how picky he is about bags so I paid extra attention.

After all this, I went out online and bought the bag. But, there is absolutely no way that Eagle Creek would be able to track this sale back to what inspired me to buy it. By writing this post it is the ONLY way they'd ever know and that is why I'm sharing it so that you, them and everyone else can look at this at just one of the many examples of why you can't track everything. Especially when it is good, old fashioned, true word of mouth.

Some other important points to keep in mind.

  • This sale has nothing to do with any marketing efforts. I bought the bag based on two friends recommendations.
  • I already had a connection with the brand from owning some of their products in the past.
  • It is a good product first and foremost. If you do not start with a good product or service then marketing online won't help you.
  • Luggage companies should use video a lot more. Because Chris walked through all the compartments and showed how he is actually using them, I could see that it was the right bag for me without ever touching one. Every luggage site I looked at online only had photos and they are not enough to sell in this case.
  • Trust in a Friends thought's on products is critical. If I only saw Chris' review I might not have bought it. For me it was the second trusted friend Mitch being involved that sold it for me.

I hope this helps businesses further understand how things work online. Each of us has our own voice, ways of sharing and approach to what we will and won't talk about. No business has control over this and you need to embrace it and help make it work for you.

If when the bag arrives I'm not happy with it I'm going to look at Chris & Mitch first because they sold the bag to me, not the company. But, because I trust in them and know them I doubt that will happen.

Think about it.