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Measuring Social: The Inchworm & The Nightingale

In an old fable, a nightingale issues a challenge to an inchworm to measure her song- to prevent being eaten. Fearful, the worm tricks the bird into singing while he inches away.
Sound familiar? When marketers ask for what at the surface appear to be complex concepts, like engaged fans, measurers run!
Given the tidy unit inherent to the worm, a simple solution could have been to measure the ground for the length of the song. Social and personality psychologists have been doing things like this for many years and have developed methods of overcoming the exact challenges marketers are grappling with today.
They’ve developed common coins to help draw general conclusions and means of going beyond standard assessments with more innovative methodologies to capture different levels of behavior.
We will present several basic lessons from social and personality psychology that marketers and social media analysts can learn to improve the integrity and trustworthiness of their findings.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. What simple lessons can we learn from psychological research to apply to measuring new media?
  2. How would a social/personality psychologist create a proxy for a traditional marketing metric in social media?
  3. What are some basic measurement criteria to help evaluate new methods for social media analysis?
  4. What are some examples of where this type of analysis/ lessons have been applied to real business problems?
  5. Are subjective measures-- or any that involve human judgment less reliable than objective, quantitative data?



Kate Niederhoffer, Founder, Knowable Research

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