The Social Media Metrics That Truly Matter
by Kent Lewis
The Social Media Metrics That Truly Matter
What is a Facebook Like worth? How about a Twitter follower? Industry researchers and even lawyers are happy to give us numbers like $3.60 or $2.50 respectively. My answer? I believe it depends on your objective, audience and offering. Unfortunately, too many marketers are focusing on the wrong metrics, and making poor strategic decisions as a result. In this article, I will outline a few key metrics to consider incorporating into your key performance indicators (KPIs) if you’re interested in getting that bonus, or just keeping your job.
Before we dive in, let me take a moment to explain the concept of ratios at KPIs. For starters, the standard model for social media measurement is to track one or more of the following:
- Awareness: total number (or percentage growth) of Likes, Fans, Followers, Subscribers or Views
- Engagement: total quantity or quality of Shares, Comments, Retweets, Replies, Ratings or Conversations
While these metrics can certainly help set a baseline and provide trending for general reach and frequency, they can be misleading or misinterpreted as absolute values. One way to minimize the limitations of these metrics is to track them as ratios instead. The benefit of a ratio is that it focuses on relationships and relativity. For example, marketers shouldn’t care as much about the total number of Likes on Facebook; rather, they should care about the level of quality and engagement with those individuals. One way to do that is by looking at relationships like the average number of comments or shares-per-post. In that scenario, the focus is on the relative quality of engagement over time. The absolute numbers in this scenario may look to be increasing, but when compared relative to each other, total engagement may be decreasing. Here’s a specific example:
|Month 1||#s||Month 2||#s||Metrics||Chng|
In the above Facebook example, the “Old School” Social Media Marketing Manager would claim success, based on month-to-month Like, Post and Comment Growth. However, if we dig deeper, you’ll notice the comment-per-like ratios is actually down as other areas grow. As CMO, I would call out the discrepancy, as it implies overall social media engagement is in fact down, not up. Keep in mind, this is an overly-simplified example meant to illustrate the power of ratios.
As you can see from the example above, I’m compelled to create a matrix at any opportunity. In the following case, I felt a matrix was the easiest way to communicate a sampling of ratio-based metrics for social media platforms, based on objective. I also included sample goals and alternative metrics. These are not meant to be de facto metrics for all social media marketing efforts. Rather, they are meant to foster conversation and inspire you to create your own meaningful metrics. Let’s take a look:
|Customer Engagement||Av. #Comments/Post||10||Av. # Shares/Week|
|General Awareness||Av. New Followers/Post||5||Av. #RTs/Post|
|Thought Leadership||# Best Answers||20||# InRecommendations|
|YouTube||Sales/Lead Generation||# Leads or Sales/View||1%||Likes/Views|
|Google+||Customer Service||# Hangouts/Week||3||NetPromoter Score|
|General Awareness||# Likes/Pin||10%||# Repins|
|SlideShare||Sales/Lead Generation||# Leads or Sales/View||2%||# Downloads|
|iTunes||Thought Leadership||# Downloads/Month||500||Ratings|
|Quora||Thought Leadership||# Best Answers||10||Referring Traffic|
|Blog||General Awareness||# Unique Visitors/Month||1000||Comments/Post|
I encourage you to review and discuss this matrix with your executive and marketing team. Ask the following questions:
- Which platforms are most relevant to our target audience? (Yes, you need to know enough about your customers, prospects and social platforms to answer this question)
- Which objective is a priority for each of those platforms? (See above. Map your objective to the strengths of each platform, based on user behavior and your communications or business goals)
- Does the sample metric make sense for your business? (Run sample data through and see what insights it provides. I suggest 1-3 months for a test, depending on volume of data)
- What goal is most realistic based on your current objectives, audience, resources and timelines? (consider setting a baseline and a stretch goal – which may be 10-50% higher)
- Are there any secondary metrics you should consider? (consider testing before finalizing, or create an entirely separate KPI for the alternative metrics)
Once you’ve answered the questions above to your satisfaction and complete an initial test, you should discover entirely new insights in regards to how to best allocate your social media resources to maximize return-on-investment (ROI) on your overall marketing program. Feel free to drop me a line to let me know how it goes and know we’re always here to help you through the process, if you get stuck.
Additional social media marketing resources:
Kent Lewis is President & Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine, social media and mobile marketing for clients worldwide. Based in Portland, Anvil was founded in 2000 and services over 50 clients. For more information, visit www.anvilmediainc.com.
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