Stop Wasting Your Time Tracking Social Media Metrics That Don’t Matter
Remember back in high school when popularity was based on the amount of friends you had and recognition came from being the class clown or the school jock? Ugh, I shudder when I think back to those days and then my stomach turns when I remember that kids today still measure themselves against those standards… and actually if you think about it, sometimes marketers get caught up measuring those vain metrics as well. Gauging social media marketing metrics primarily on the basis of the number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Snapchat friends your company has is so 90’s and, more importantly, it is detrimental to the success of our industry.
The sole purpose of brands using social media is to be more human while building and nurturing communities. Brands can do this successfully by providing valuable and engaging content to their audiences. But the unfortunate truth is that some marketers are much more concerned with vanity metrics and less so with providing value- the qualitative social media marketing metric that matters.
This became painstakingly clear and hit all too close to home when one of our social media clients had a mini-panic attack after realizing that in the course of four days, the brand’s Facebook fan count decreased by 3%. The immediate assumption was that something went terribly wrong, but the reality is: losing those fans showed that Facebook finally did something right. Effective March 12, 2015, Facebook removed all deactivated and memorialized accounts from the fan count of Pages on their platform and the message was clear:
“Removing inactive Facebook accounts from Page audience data gives businesses up-to-date insights on the people who actively follow their Page and makes it easier for businesses to find people like their followers through tools like lookalike audiences.”
Quality Matters More than Quantity
Ultimately Facebook’s change is beneficial for brands- we are now able to obtain more accurate information about who our audience actually consists of. If that information must come at the expense of a handful of fans, then so be it.
At our agency, developing an effective social media strategy depends heavily on audience analysis because how else will you know who (and how) to communicate with your audience and understand their demographic and psychographic information? We emphasize to our clients that having tens of thousands of Facebook fans may look good on paper, but if your engagement percentage is 1% of that number of fans, you’re doing something terribly wrong.
With the knowledge that Facebook is by all means a ‘pay-to-play’ platform, it is of the utmost importance to develop a solid plan for your content, whether it be through owned or earned media. Once you have a solid plan, you should constantly measure, analyze, revise, and repeat. The goal any of social media strategy should be to connect and have meaningful conversations with your audience and the only way to determine if you are meeting that goal is to focus on the social media marketing metrics that show the value of the content you produce.
Instead of using vanity metrics to determine the success of a social media strategy, campaign or marketing initiative- do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper with data that will help you serve your audience more effectively:
Instead of the number Facebook fans, measure Facebook Insights
Forget the number of fans you have, dig deeper by using Facebook Insights to analyze the percentage of your fans who are engaging with your content. Measure your posts and page reach, then record likes, comments and shares as KPIs (key performance indicators). Next, analyze how you can improve those metrics and then continually revise your content strategy.
Instead of the number of Twitter followers, measure what your followers are talking about + who is engaging with your content
Similar to Facebook fans, quantifying Twitter followers will not provide an effective means of analyzing the success of your marketing efforts. Instead measure the engagement rate (%) of your tweet activity, link clicks and replies. And don’t forget to set KPIs for retweets and favorites.
Instead of the number of blog post views, measure social shares, bounce rate and email opt-ins to your blog content
Your content promotion strategy most likely includes pushing your owned content out via all of your social media platforms, but you should be less concerned with the number of blog post views you are getting as a result. Instead, measure the shares your content receives. For example, are blog visitors pinning your images on Pinterest– if not, you may need to optimize your blog to display a Pin-It button on all images. Are visitors subscribing to your content or just immediately leaving your blog after skimming through your post? In the case of the latter, maybe you should add a pop up email opt-in form to get the visitors’ email address and in return provide valuable content regularly to keep them coming back.
In order to accurately measure the success of your social media strategy, stop concerning yourself with vanity metrics like how many Facebook fans you have and start measuring the insights that allow you to take action, then adjust your strategy accordingly.