What do Facebook, YouTube and Twitter bring to Sirius XM? The answer is brand awareness, loyalty, exposure, a connection between the satellite service and the Internet service. I have often written about the benefits of Social media to Sirius XM. Some say that such sites are not important, and to even consider them as important is a fools errand. It is fine that some disagree, but a business is more than the bottom line. It is about being able to maintain your presence and share in an ever changing world. It is about keeping yourself relevant and keeping yourself in tune with the heartbeat of your audience.

No, there is no gauge of exactly what the value social media networks deliver in terms of dollars, but does that mean they should be ignored? How should companies respond? How do they keep up? There are many answers to these questions, but perhaps one telling answer is that companies actually now hire a Chief Culture Officer. The responsibility of this person is to be up on the times, and what is current.

Grant McCracken has written a book about the subject. His book, Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation highlights exactly why understanding and keeping up with today's culture is important. McCracken points out, "Levi Strauss, the jeans and apparel maker, misses hip-hop. The penalty: $1 billion. Quaker pays too much for Snapple. The penalty: $1.4 billion. Facebook claims 7 billion photos as its own. Embarrassment and recantation follow. These corporations, like most, were bad at reading culture, bad at staying in touch with culture, bad at working with culture. And it cost them dearly." Clearly understanding the audience is important, and in my opinion, Sirius XM being a part of social media is simply good business.

Some critical of my stance want hard numbers. The problem is that Sirius XM Radio do not provide them. However, there is gauge that does demonstrate that social media sites are becoming an important aspect of Sirius XM's business. Alexa, a site dedicated to measuring internet traffic and data, carries some interesting statistics. While the Alexa methodology may cause some debate, it is good for giving a general idea what is happening.

Among other things Alexa measures upstream and downstream sites. An upstream site is the site visited immediately preceding a visit to Sirius' site. As you can see, the number one upstream site for Sirius is Google, followed by Yahoo, Facebook, then YouTube. The fact of the matter is that Facebook and YouTube combined account for more of the upstream than Yahoo. Okay, now that's the Sirius website. What about XM? The stats are just as telling. Clearly people in measurable numbers are visiting social media directly prior to visiting either the Sirius or XM website.

The downstream indicates site that people visit upon leaving Sirius or XM's website. The data here is also interesting. People go to Google about 30% of the time. Yahoo garners visits 12% of the time. Facebook gets a healthy share of 10%, and YouTube 4%. The numbers for the XM site are very similar.

Can you measure how many subscribers social media delivers? No. Does it help? Most certainly. Does a presence on Social media help the bottom line? Of course. It is essentially free marketing, free impressions, and viral in nature. Rather than being critical, perhaps the best question to ask is whether Sirius XM should ignore this aspect of the business or not. It is my firm belief that the company should maintain and continue their presence on social media and that it delivers value to Sirius XM, value to subscribers, and exposure to non-subscribers. Why try to quantify it any further. The numbers are there, and do exist.

[ Alexa Sirius data | Alexa XM data ]
Position - Long Sirius XM Radio