There are no ‘right’ social media metrics

One of my fellow Curators and I were at Ad Club Seattle’s "Untangling Social Analytics" panel last week when someone in the audience brought up the topic of the “right” social media metrics. “Which social media metrics should I be measuring?” the person asked.

“Well, it depends…” each panelist answered, before delving into a deeper explanation.

As Curator’s social media strategist, I get asked some variation of that question pretty regularly, and I have the same answer: It depends. It depends on what you’re using social media for, and what you want it to do for you.

That’s not always an attractive answer because people are often looking for something akin to a newspaper’s circulation or a TV show’s Nielsen rating. They want a “one number to rule them all” stat that encompasses the overall success of a brand on social media – one they can use to say “our number is bigger than the other guy’s.” Some companies, like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex, have attempted to offer just that.

All those numbers have their uses, but if they’re all you rely on, they’ll eventually ruin you.

The key to figuring out which social media metrics you should be measuring is to have a clear idea of what your goals are. Social media isn't the end game. Likes and shares don't mean much if a consumer isn't driven to a real world action. Finding a way to build a relationship with a consumer so that they see value in a brand's offering is the thing. We often ask ourselves as we brainstorm at Curator, "Why will someone care?"  So before you ask, “What do we measure?” ask, “What do we want to accomplish?” Once you’ve established that, you can start to think about what kind of metrics go with the things you’re trying to do.

For example, if you’ve launched a new website and you’re trying to drive clicks from your Facebook page, it doesn’t really matter how many Likes your page has. How many of those users are seeing your posts in the first place? How many of those are actually clicking? What kinds of posts get clicked on the most?

(Note: This all assumes your brand/product is something people want in the first place. Social media strategy is not a replacement for a quality product.)

Spend time asking those questions, and spend time getting to know what various social media metrics mean. That time spent up front can seem like a lot, but once you’ve established what you want and how to get it, you “just” need to execute and measure.