How to Understand Social Media Metrics
Many people get lost in what the various metrics mean for their business, and that's okay. Not everyone can be a marketing and measurement expert!
Don Bartholomew helps make it easier. He's known as "the Metrics Man" and he published an article called, "Three Fundamentals of Great Social Media Measurement. In it, he explains the importance of tracking key metrics and key performance indicators (KPI) but also makes the point that developing "actionable insights" are even more important (emphasis is mine):
"Insights may be defined as synthesizing and interpreting data to provide actionable information and knowledge that informs strategic decisions. Too many social media measurement programs take a social-centric, rather than a business-centric, approach to insights. They often feature insights and recommendations that are tactical in nature – the best time of day or how many times to tweet, or what type of content seems to be most successful. Ideally, insights and recommendations in social measurement reports would be operating one level above this, informing strategic decisions about how social programs and conversations are impacting, or could impact, the business."
Don goes on to explain the difference between "Channel Specific Metrics" and "Business Outcome Metrics." Like the company in the midst of a new product launch. The metrics that matter aren't how many "Likes" or "Retweets" obtained in a month (Channel Metrics), but instead what types of features the customers liked most, and reasons why they bought or recommeded the product (Business Outcomes).
That means more interpretation and analysis from a strategic business perspective. An experienced marketing professional will understand that quickly getting to 10,000 "Likes" on a Facebook page won't do anything for a business if those people never come back. Or that a sudden surge of bargain-hunting shoppers might not help a new business if the store owner didn't properly set up a lead capture or follow-up campaign once the promotion ended.
Actionable insights include:
- Identifying which competitors are performing better than you and why
- Recommending new initiatives that will overcome existing marketing barriers
- Specific reasons why some offers perform better than others so that future offers may be optimized for best performance
- Phased approach to implementation, recognizing larger macro-economic forces which may be affecting your business (seasonality, for example)
A junior level staffer who keeps track of Klout scores and Twitter followers won't be able to extract the same value out of the social media campaign as an experienced marketer. That's because she won't have the personal experience or business acumen to understand the "whys" or "hows" their work is connecting to business outcomes.
Similarly, companies need to give their outside consultants access to sales and customer data so they can conduct closed-loop-analysis. All too often consultants set up systems that "hand off" leads or customer relationships to a business, never to hear what happened to those relationships or how much the sale was worth. As a result, they can never truly know what worked, and what didn't.
- Give your social media manager the resources and authority they need to quickly turn a social media trend into a competitive advantage for your company.
- Make sure your metrics system is set up to deliver insights that help your business create innovative products and services.
Start with the end in mind. Consider what your business needs most from social media. What does success look like? Be specific. Look at your entire business, not just the metrics of your social media platform. Take it a step further. Create your own tools and systems. Want to see what a metrics system looks like?
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