Today's inaugural Social Media Analytics Summit is the first two-day event to focus exclusively on analytics in social media. This begs the question: Why haven't we seen an event with this much focus and breadth on this topic, when it seems to be so essential to any budding enterprise?

Because the truth is, we're all still trying to scramble through this thing, and rumor has it that nobody really has a handle on how exactly to quantify social media results into hard data.

Can They Do It?

Perhaps this two-day mixture of keynotes from major industry players, case studies, panels and the like will allow a sharper, more distinct insight into this emerging field of study.  Perhaps ingenious solutions will be offered, showing the real ROI and hard-earned results of a thousand Facebook posts and five thousand tweets. It's possible that we'll be able to throw all of the collaborative panels and case studies up onto a canvas and produce an inspired masterpiece, lending insight to the educated eye.  It's just as likely we'll see some kind of abstract mess that derives from previous innovations.

Case studies of major companies gaining traction through social media are nothing new. One can find that at almost any worthwhile conference that claims to discuss anything related to the internet. We have seen American Airlines or The Gap or the like get up there and brag about how their latest scheme netted them a million "likes" at any of 100 conferences. What we are hoping to find at the Social Media Analytics Summit is the more important element hidden inside that success: how to monetize it. 

'Likes' Don't Necessarily Mean Gold

Everyone appreciates the value of loyal fans and active followers.  But where does that turn into results, and how do we track it, maintain it, use it?  We're assuming the keynoters and company heads at this Summit can show the correlation of social media success and financial success.  We're hoping to see the ROI of social media.  That's a sticky wicket.

Do honest, rich engagements with customers actually create value? Where are we finding it? Is securing the "love" of one consumer worth more than bombarding thousands of them in hope of a hit? Many are saying that it is. Moreover, they're insisting that soon, we won't have any other choice. Now they just need to show us why that's true. That's what I'm hoping to gain from today's event. Stay tuned to see what I find!