Social Media: Measure What’s Important

Social Media Metrics That Matter

So, you’re online. You’re doing all the things you’re “supposed” to do to generate engagement, you’re putting in a lot of time, and you’re finally starting to see increases in those all-important metrics of success – number of Twitter followers, number of Facebook fans, number of comments on your blog… You’re excited – at last, customers will stampede to your door, sales are sure to increase, and you’ll soon be taking a much-needed vacation to the Caribbean.

The only problem is – you’re tracking the wrong metrics!

It’s easy to confuse social media and online tools with ‘doing business.’  But tools, in and of themselves, do nothing for you. A carpenter wouldn’t measure how many times he’s hit a nail with his hammer; he wants to know how many walls he’s framed, or how many chairs he’s built. He’s interested in outcomes that are directly linked to getting paid and continuing to build his business. Whether his hammer hit a nail 100 times or 1,000, it doesn’t tell him what he really needs to know.

Keep Your Goals in Mind

What are you really trying to accomplish? And how will you know when your business has reached your goals? The key to meaningful metrics is that they tell you how you’re doing against your business goals. The tools you choose – and the metrics you use – are dependent on your business goals. Not the other way around.

Before you even begin to look at social media tools, you need to clearly answer these questions –

  • Why are you in business?
  • What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • Why are YOU the right choice for the customer?

Use Social Media Tools that Support Your Goals

Social media tools are great for clearly and consistently delivering your message. But you must have a strong message that communicates your goals. Otherwise you’re just talking in the wind.

The focus here is on content versus communication. Start with great content (e.g., website, blog, articles, videos) that supports your business goals and delivers your message. Then use social media tools to get the word out. Without the content/message, social media doesn’t help you.

Use Metrics That Matter

In social media, the temptation is to focus on quantity (e.g., number of followers, fans, likes, retweets, shares, etc.). But it’s quality that really matters.  1,000 followers who don’t care won’t bring you nearly the return as 100 followers who do care. So, if your goal is to get 1,000 Twitter followers, you need to go back to the drawing board. What will those followers do for you? Will they buy your products or refer you to their friends? Really??

Instead, measure what really matters to your business. What’s truly important will depend on your business, but here are some common outcomes that you should probably be tracking:

  • Number of subscribers / number of opens – If you have an email list (and you should), then you’ve probably heard the expression “The money’s in the list!” Conversions (e.g., sales) are generally higher for email subscribers than for any other group of potential customers. So the number of people on your list is an important indicator of sales potential. But it’s not just the number that’s important – it’s the number of subscribers who actually open your emails. If they haven’t opened one of your emails in the past 6 months, delete them from the list. They’re not going to suddenly start opening your emails, they’re not going to buy from you, so stop wasting time and energy sending them information they no longer want.
  • Conversion rates – Take a look at the percentage of website visitors, blog readers, Facebook fans, etc. who answer your call to action (e.g., sign up for your email list, share a post, call you, buy your product). The stronger your relationship with them, the higher your conversion rate should be.
  • Length of sales cycle – Who are you more likely to buy from and to make your buying decision more quickly – the car salesman you’ve never met before, or the one who comes highly recommended by your brother who’s bought three cars from him already? We tend to buy more often and more quickly from people we trust – and social media is a good way to build that trust with a wide range of people.  If you’re doing it well, the length of your sales cycle should decrease.
  • Revenue – For many of us, revenue is the end goal of being in business. While it’s hard to link revenue directly to social media, you should see some sort of correlation. If you’re increasing your social media efforts but revenue is going down, it’s time to re-evaluate your online activities.

Don’t get all hung up on those things that don’t really matter. Focus on measuring the things that contribute to the bottom line.

What metrics are you using and how are you doing against your goals?


  1. Morris May on January 18, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I should read articles in the correct order…. as it would save saying what has been said here. Lovely point on “Revenue”. If that is going down when engaging with social media, you must be doing something very wrong?

    • Monica Hemingway on January 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      Strange, isn’t it, how many people don’t think to link revenue to social media efforts? They link it to ‘traditional’ marketing and advertising and sales – but not to the ‘non-traditional’ methods. Hopefully that will change soon.

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