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Bogus Social Media Metrics Should Be Criminalized

A Snarketing post by Ron Shevlin, Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors

A MarketingProfs article titled The Top 20 Social CMOs of the Fortune 100 [Infographic] caught my attention. I was curious to see how they determined who the top 20 “social” CMOs of the F100 are, and how they managed to put it in a infographic. According to the article:

“BusinessNext Social conducted a study of the CMOs in the Fortune 100 to see which of them were most socially active. To rank the CMOs, the company used a formula created by the BusinessNext Social conference director Mark Fidelman. The study considered such metrics as Twitter followers, retweet frequency, social engagement frequency, social mentions, KRED scores, and Klout scores. Weights were assigned to each factor.”

My take: The methodology is totally bogus, and the infographic is…well, not exactly an infographic.


My first thought upon reading this article was “Aha! So that’s how you create a social media. Take every publicly available social media metric, randomly assign weights to the score, and — voila! — social media metric created!”

My second reaction was “What was the maximum score, and why are there 27 stars under the so-called leaders’ names?” The most “social” (damn, I can’t write that without putting quotes aren’t it because it’s so damn bogus) CMO earned a score (I not sure “earned” is a very good verb to use here) of 2650, and 26 and a half out of the 27 stars following her name are filled in. Is 2650 good or bad? Is it out of 3,000 or 30,000? And what the hell do the stars mean?


The number 14th ranked CMO is Jim Wilkinson from Pepsico. Technically, he’s not really the CMO, he’s the EVP of Communications, so the infographic (and article) title is a little misleading.

As of this morning, Jim has 623 followers and has tweeted a total of 168 times. Two of those tweets were retweets that were sent out in the past 24 hours, but before that his last original tweet was October 27. During the month of November,  Jim only retweeted stuff, like @@MoClaiborne tweeting “Game day!” and Interstate 80 Tahoe tweeting “CHAINS: 1 MI EAST OF BAXTER To TRUCKEE (01:16).”


The article doesn’t actually rank all top 20 CMOs — six of the execs get “honorable mention.” According to the article, “5 of the 6 Honorable Mentions are social, but not consistently.”

One of the six is Tom Noland from Humana. Tom has 29 followers, and has tweeted a total of 20 times, the last of which was October 16th.

Another is Alan Gershonhorn from UPS, who has 269 followers, and has tweeted 10 times, most recently on March 13th. I’m not sure which year, though.


Bottom line: What a totally bogus metric and article.

Was there any lesson learned here from the social media behavior of CMOs (and senior communications execs) in the Fortune 100?  Is there a benefit to a corporation if the senior marketing executive is active in social media? (I see no proof of that here).  Do companies like Pepsi and Humana suffer if their top marketing execs are not particularly active tweeters? (I don’t think so).

The bottom line here is that this article was written simply to draw attention to MarketingProfs and whoever created the totally bogus ranking.

And we need to do something about these bogus social media metrics.

That’s why I’m proposing we criminalize them.

Look, we need to maintain a balance in our society. With so many states decriminalizing marijuana, our law enforcement personnel are looking to keep busy. I believe that hunting down and incarcerating people who create bogus social media metrics is a good use of law enforcement’s time, and our taxpayer money.

p.s. In no way should anything I wrote here be seen as criticism of Wilkinson, Noland, or Gershonhorn. They can choose to participate in Twitter in any way they choose.

Ron ShevlinRon Shevlin is Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors. Get a copy of his best-selling book, Smarter Bank: Why Money Management is More Important Than Money Movement. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter at @rshevlin.

All content © 2017 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

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  1. Infographics are so 2010, when social was a new horizon and ever growing. Once it stopped being the next big thing, infographics settled into their place as an interesting way to turn data into information.

    This hasn’t stopped marketing agencies twisting it to suit their message. Whilst spinning facts is nothing new, applying an arbitrary scoring mechanism to a few data points doesn’t make a very compelling case… but then… when you dig deep enough, neither do many annual reports. I like my immoral use of “facts” to justify a pre-held position to be well baked, not half baked.

  2. Sy: Despite my rantings, I’m actaully in favor of creating new metrics by mashing things together and applying arbitrary weights and subjective alterations. When there is a business rationale/logic and reason for doing so, that is. The MktgProfs article has no redeeming value. If there was any logic behind the methodology, it wasn’t mentioned in the article.

    And, as a Talking Heads fan, your immoral use of facts to justify your pre-hold positions comes as no surprise. It was David Byrne who said “facts all come with a point of view, facts don’t do what you want them to.”

  3. You should post this on G+ Influence Community moderated by Mark Fidelman

  4. 🙂 Yeah, I’m sure it will be very welcome there.

  5. Sure why not. People should have the freedom to mashup whatever they want to claim as their own. In fact they should go on to brand it to own it.
    Hope they check the units (dimensions) of quantities while adding or subtracting

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