Ignore social media metrics: what to focus on instead

This is the second in a series of posts about why I advise certain clients to adopt a “dynamic brochure” social media strategy, focusing on publishing, active listening, and measuring “pulse” without attempting to meet numerical goals for metrics such as “likes”, comments, shares, page views, Klout score, etc.

You can read part one here. In this part I discuss the benefits of a dynamic brochure strategy. In part three I’ll discuss false assumptions about the relationship between social media activity volume and ROI. And in a future post I’ll circle back to how social media ROI can be measured effectively, and some of the frameworks that can be used to measure it.

If you can’t connect social media investment to revenue generation, aka calculate ROI for social media, how does a social media  program help you? Let me count the ways. But first, a new metaphor. In part one of this series you were a rock star. This time you are a rock star’s stalker. You want to get to know a rock star online — really, really get to know a rock star online — what are you going to do? You’ll take a spin through all of that rock star’s (brand’s) web properties, gathering information, and saving or sharing the tasty bits with like-minded friends.

In real life (which for most of us means not being rock stars or having stalkers), who’s going to take this information gathering approach?

  • Prospective customers evaluating your offerings, either before or after hearing about you from other sources.
  • Current customers, and other brand fans, who want to share information about you (referrals).
  • Customers and brand fans just checking in to keep up with the brand.
  • Journalists and bloggers considering the brand for a story.
  • Conference organizers considering your people for speaking positions.
  • Potential employees, either before or after contact with your recruiters.
  • Current employees staying connected to the company, or sharing information with potential customers or potential recruits (sales collateral, referrals).

…and the list goes on.

Big Binoculars of Social Media
What will they see when they really check you out?

A dynamic brochure social media platform is beautiful for all of these purposes because it shows that the brand is alive, reflects the personalities of its people, has a voice and a point of view, and is accessible for those who want to interact.

Another way to benefit from a dynamic brochure strategy is by asking your entire organization to help keep your brand identity fresh via social media. By inviting broad participation you give people at many levels in your organization a motive and opportunity to articulate and refine their brand messaging. Content you develop around employee contributions, and using the social feedback you pull from both internal and outside sources, can also be used to provide SEO benefits and sales collateral.

Finally, a dynamic brochure strategy scales well because individual brand evangelists within your organization, including leaders of various stripes, can work successfully from a dynamic brochure playbook without first buying into, then investing time and attention into, the data and metadata generation needed to measure ROI. They can focus instead on their day jobs while letting company strategy inform, rather than inhibit, their individual social media efforts.

So it’s obvious that your brand should invest in at least a modest dynamic brochure via social media. Then, you say, why don’t we just measure actions like those in the bullet list above in order to show ROI? Now you’re talking! Go for it. But until you do measure them, and their connection to social media, the mere quantity of likes, shares, comments, etc. aren’t particularly relevant and are not ends unto themselves. And turning them into numerical goals creates a little game for your people to play that may distract them from their real jobs. Believe me, I’ve seen the joy and excitement over meaningless spikes in social media metrics, the despair and fear over meaningless plateaus, and the unthinking, video-game-addiction-like-response of putting in more effort to rack up more “points” whether or not any business outcome is being served.

Then what kind of feedback should you be looking at, if not revenue data (still assuming that you can’t link this to social media activity) or easy but misleading data about likes, shares, comments, etc.?

Here’s an example: let’s assume your organization is successful and hires people to replace turnover, or even to grow. Talk to your new recruits: did they look at social media? How did they discover your social media accounts, and which ones? What did they think of your presence? How did it affect their view of the company, and/or their decision to come on board? Figure out what you can improve on, and try that on for size.

Rinse and repeat with prospects, employees, customers, and any other people who are important to your organization.

This anecdotal feedback is vastly more important than likes. And if you can, get real, business-related metrics, like:

  • % new hires who found your social media accounts,
  • % new hires who discovered your organization through social media,
  • % new hires who enjoyed your social media,
  • % new hires positively influenced by your social media…

and try to improve upon these numbers, while measuring change over time.

But isn’t it rather stupid to invest in social media without measuring social media ROI “the right way”, connecting social media activity to real business results from the get-go? Shouldn’t company leadership just buck up, spend the money, ram through a consensus, and get it done? Fair enough. By all means put it on your agenda. But while that’s in progress, for however long it takes, move forward with a dynamic brochure strategy which generates practical results while freeing your people from the risks of becoming focused on meaningless goals.

2 Replies to “Ignore social media metrics: what to focus on instead”

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