Ask SMT: Are there too many social media metrics? Which do you find most valuable?
One of the key benefits of digital marketing is that everything can be tracked, traced and measured.
Social media marketing metrics can provide hugely valuable insights, measures we can use to assess the true impact of our efforts. Whereas once we had only had Google Analytics to provide in-depth data on audience behaviors, there's now a wide range of tools available to chose from, with every platform and provider offering their own take, all of which can show you key trends and shifts.
But with so many options available, is can quickly get confusing.
As the digital world continues to expand, with marketers engaging across multiple platforms, it can become something of a data flood, overwhelming you with the array of measurement options. And the thing is, every business - even every campaign - has its own critical performance indicators. You need to know what yours are to ensure you're focused on just the right points,as opposed to optimizing your efforts for elements that won't ultimately contribute to the bottom line.
With this in mind, we sought advice from our SMT Influencers on how they use metrics, and what tips they might have about managing the process.
"When it comes to social media metrics: are there too many, not enough, or just the right amount? Which do you find to be the most valuable? "
"You can't improve what you don't measure. If you're not consistently monitoring various social media metrics, you'll never know what's working, what to do more of and what's not resonating with your intended audience. However, you can easily fall down a rabbit hole of numbers if you don't know what to measure, or if you're measuring vanity or the wrong metrics.
The metrics that will prove to be most valuable are the ones that are tied to your original goals. You need to begin all strategies and campaigns with clearly defined goals - your key desired outcomes. Once those are solidified, you'll know what metrics you need to be monitoring.
There are a few "baseline" metrics you might want to consider always monitoring for your social media accounts. One of the ones I find most valuable to track is brand sentiment. I always want to be a part of the conversations already taking place about my clients on social media. It's important to me to measure the number of messages about my brands, the number of people talking about those brands, and then track how both of those numbers change over time. Another important metric to me, regardless of specific goals, is monitoring when my community members are online, when they're most likely to share posts and engage with my brands, and how they prefer to receive content from my brands on each social network."
- Lucy Rendler Kaplan , Founder, Arkay Marketing and PR
"There's no single right answer to this question, as it needs to be asked in context. Social Media metrics should be carefully aligned to the business or business unit goals in order to be meaningful. Many social media marketers are trying to measure the wrong things - namely outcomes that don't matter to the business.
Simply put, if no executive would care about the outcome, don't bother to measure it.
Marketers only need a few, powerful metrics to establish value - less is more. Too many metrics can water-down the message and can make tracking unnecessarily difficult. The challenge is finding the right ones.
To develop impactful social media metrics, first ask "What are the top 3-5 business outcomes that are important to my organization?", then "Which of these goals can social media impact or make possible" and, finally, answer the question "How will we know?" It's important to remember that metrics need to demonstrate change over time. Be sure to track the baseline (before picture) in order to show the impact of the social media initiative (after picture). Choose your metrics wisely, as we become what we measure."
-Vanessa DiMauro, CEO, Leader Networks
"Analyzing metrics is always burdensome because there are so many of them, however there's nowhere else to get the insights. When you're drilling into specifics - by topics, segments, traffic sources, etc. - you need those very specific metrics. We also find that organizations find analytics problematic when they don't work with them regularly. We implement weekly and monthly analytics reviews as part of our retainers. Making it a regular part of the process seems to relieve the burden.
Which do we find most useful? I think there are multiple answers. For all of our clients, we look at which content gets the most interaction (likes, shares, etc.) to help refine the type of content their audience wants. We look at other metrics to identify the most valuable social channels by referral and conversion rate.
It's the results-oriented metrics that matter. We're answering the questions; What content generates audience interaction? When content generates traffic where does it come from? Which content helps move people down the funnel at each stage? What content converts? Within those broader questions, we look at on-site metrics for tracking user behavior. For content and social media, we look at content engagement patterns and attribution to identify what leads visitors to click on lead magnets."
-Bob Carver, Principal Consultant, Carver Technology Consulting LLC
"When it comes to social media metrics there should always be more than less to work with because one size does not fit all - what one brand looks for in their ROI will vary from what another brand wants.
We track the standard vanity metrics, like impressions and new followers, but find that the most valuable metric is the click-through rate (CTR). This applies to everything from our blog posts to our newsletters - we need to see what headlines attract readers to click and open them.
Along with the CTR, we look into the bounce rate via Google Analytics, which shows us who's staying on our site and where they came from, whether it was from a social platform or a Google search. Knowing what messaging our audience likes is great, but knowing more about where they came from is key to creating more content around that location that keeps bringing them back."
- Deborah Sweeney, CEO, My Corporation
"I track social media metrics all the way through the sales process, measuring its impact at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel. This includes total traffic, subscribers, MQLs, SQLs, Opportunities, etc. and all of the conversion rates in between.
From a paid social perspective, I'm looking at cost per acquisition or cost per lead. If someone's spending money directly on social media channels, and closing business or lead generation is the goal, than those are the most important metrics to measure.
The other thing I like to do is stack rank my content by the number of total shares it produces from all of the main channels combined. This gives me a good understanding of which topics resonate the most with my target audience. This is data that can help content creators make better decisions.
Lastly, when using paid social to earn media from journalists and/or influencers, it's important to track the number of articles, mentions, and bylines you've earned. These are the key metrics that truly matter to me."
-Chad Pollitt, VP of Audience, Native Advertising Institute
"It doesn't matter how may social media metrics there are - what matters is which are important in helping you optimize your efforts to serve your objectives and how (or if) you apply the insights.
I believe most brands want to be aware of follower growth and some form of engagement that indicates something substantial results from social media activity. For my brand, and some of my clients, the thing I most want to learn comes from Google Analytics,and that is: which networks are driving traffic to my website and converting?"
-Barry Feldman, Director at Feldman Creative