Social Media Metrics

tracking social media metrics If you want good social media metrics to track, be sure to pick the right ones. A quick disclaimer: it depends what you’re hoping to accomplish as to which metrics you might want to track. I’ll give you my take, and what we tend to work from at New Marketing Labs, and then you’re welcome to point out different opinions in the comments section.

Social Media Metrics?

First, which metrics from social media do you think are important to begin with? Does # of friends or followers matter? It’s a yes-and-no kind of answer, to be truthful. I have 150,000+ Twitter followers at the time of this post. But if I ask them to take action, only about 200-300 take action at any given request. Pretty low percentage, right? And yet, because I have that many followers, the chance that my post will catch someone’s eye is higher than not, so I can’t completely poo poo the metric.

And that’s the first problem with social media metrics. A YouTube video with a million views has a bit more social proof than a video with 1,000 views, but beyond that, who cares? Did someone take an action based on the video? Did they type in the URL you flashed on the video? Did they follow through and do whatever you asked? The answer is almost always no. And yet, something being seen a million times means that’s 999,000 more chances than the other video of getting to the “right” person.

The social media metric that I think does matter and that is difficult to fully qualify is sentiment: the positive or negative mentions of a brand, product, service, whatever. Companies like SAS (a client), Radian6 (sometimes a client and I’m an advisor), and many more track sentiment as part of what they do. This metric is very useful when applied to customer service metrics. If you know the perception and sentiment behind a perception, then you can work to correct it. This becomes a value, and it’s something you can put effort behind.

Ones I’m not so sure of:

  • Comments – it’s great that people comment. It shows some level of engagement. Did anyone buy?
  • Bookmarks, tweets, retweets, likes – it’s useful because it shows whether information spreads well and on which kind of media, but again, there’s not as much of a call to action inherent in that metric. Use it, but use it as a way to test your marketing, not as a way to test the results of the product/service.
  • Pageviews – again, it shows someone showed up, but if they didn’t do anything, I don’t care as much.

Metrics I DO Like

I like sales. Can you track dollars from your links?

I like leads. Can you track number of raw leads?

I like members. Can you count members, who then might be further massaged into leads?

Those are the metrics I think have some value, at least from a business perspective.

Your Mileage Will Vary

It depends what you’re trying to do. If you’re looking for more donors, then I don’t think 1 million views of a video translates well into donors. If you’re looking for more exposure for some product, then maybe it doesn’t matter how many leads you get, if you’re hoping just to get seen. So, don’t consider this all law. Just consider it another way to view thoughts on metrics and which ones work and don’t for you.

In other words, make up your own mind, but don’t ever let someone sway you that there are “official” social media metrics that you must/should/need to track.

Thoughts?

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve always hated the term metric in general, simply because as you say, they may not be meaningful. I’m reminded of the quote from Ghostbusters, “I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results!”

    And when you figure out how I can get more donors for my 168 Project, let me know. Thanks again :)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve always hated the term metric in general, simply because as you say, they may not be meaningful. I’m reminded of the quote from Ghostbusters, “I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results!”

    And when you figure out how I can get more donors for my 168 Project, let me know. Thanks again :)

  • Marc

    Chris-
    Nice simple message-

  • Marc

    Chris-
    Nice simple message-

  • Marc

    Type your comment here.CCDeaC

  • Marc

    Type your comment here.CCDeaC

  • Bkjrecruiter

    I agree with you 100% Chris (“make up your own mind, but don’t ever let someone sway you that there are “official” social media metrics)… I am more excited than anything that you are placing a high value on your health these days.. Scary to say this, but I believe your very best work is yet to come! Best to ALL, Brian-

  • http://ajleon.me ajleon

    Obviously you are right, the best metric from the Acquisition perspective is conversions (sales/leads/membership), etc. But there are inherent benefits to certain types of activity on new media channels that are very difficult to quantify in any sense. Much in the same way that its difficult to quantify the smiles on the faces of the baristas in The Bean (our local coffee shop), even though it keeps people returning, its gonna be tough to prove that in any empirical sense. Many times the experience we have with a product is as important as the product itself. And although important, it’s difficult to measure. Two days ago, a guy tweeted that he was shaving while having a GoToMeeting, so David Baeza sent him a Twitgift (with a razor and shaving cream inside). It was a candid moment between the brand and this customer facilitated by new media. It can’t necessarily scale. But I have a feeling David turned this fan into a fanatic, who will be telling that story (evangelizing the brand) to everyone he knows. I don’t know, just thinking our loud on your blog. Thanks for making us think, Chris! :)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      You can measure the value of smiles. Customer service perception was my life at 411 (for Ma Bell). You can measure anything.

      I think that those stunts are great, but I can only measure impacts for my client. I think you should do both, but if I have to measure something, I’m going after something I can really quantify.

      • http://ajleon.me ajleon

        Love this – > “you can measure the value of smiles”. Great thoughts as always. :)

      • http://ajleon.me ajleon

        Love this – > “you can measure the value of smiles”. Great thoughts as always. :)

      • http://ajleon.me ajleon

        Love this – > “you can measure the value of smiles”. Great thoughts as always. :)

  • http://twitter.com/SuRFInnovation Dave Cooke

    Agree that there is this notion that simply getting views or comments is an indicator of value. Once having successfully attracted someone there still needs to be a “next.” I like the notion of leads and conversions as being metrics. It is something that we can be accountable for after we have caught someone’s attention.

  • Debbie Wetherhead

    Chris, love your timely words of wisdom and perspective! Now engaged in 2011 planning, I’m guiding my PR agency clients to be more strategic in their application of social media tools. And, with that comes the need for tracking, measurement and accountability. A great resource that’s helping me better understand how to make a compelling business case around this topic is the new book “How to Make Money with Social Media.” The authors, Turner and Shah, removed the mystery surrounding social media by delivering easy-to-understand, yet sophisticated information that I can use to build out truly integrated marketing programs. Thank goodness for the ongoing education I get from your blog and sound counsel from other social media gurus. I’m finally “getting” it.

  • http://www.cutupmedia.com Scott

    Chris, good reminder not to confuse the means with the ends–except when the means (Twitter, FB, blogs) ARE the ends from a branding and visibility perspective. Just as true for SEO: it’s easy to get caught up in backlink count, PageRank changes, title tag content, SERPs tracking–and forget that these are just means to the end of getting traffic that then needs to actually DO SOMETHING. And email: I have clients with 200K+ lists who make less money from it than others with less than 10K on theirs.

    BTW, I can vouch for Jamie Turner. He and I have done a couple of webinars on Social Media for my list, and the chapter of his book I reviewed was good.

  • http://www.cutupmedia.com Scott

    Chris, good reminder not to confuse the means with the ends–except when the means (Twitter, FB, blogs) ARE the ends from a branding and visibility perspective. Just as true for SEO: it’s easy to get caught up in backlink count, PageRank changes, title tag content, SERPs tracking–and forget that these are just means to the end of getting traffic that then needs to actually DO SOMETHING. And email: I have clients with 200K+ lists who make less money from it than others with less than 10K on theirs.

    BTW, I can vouch for Jamie Turner. He and I have done a couple of webinars on Social Media for my list, and the chapter of his book I reviewed was good.

  • http://www.cutupmedia.com Scott

    Chris, good reminder not to confuse the means with the ends–except when the means (Twitter, FB, blogs) ARE the ends from a branding and visibility perspective. Just as true for SEO: it’s easy to get caught up in backlink count, PageRank changes, title tag content, SERPs tracking–and forget that these are just means to the end of getting traffic that then needs to actually DO SOMETHING. And email: I have clients with 200K+ lists who make less money from it than others with less than 10K on theirs.

    BTW, I can vouch for Jamie Turner. He and I have done a couple of webinars on Social Media for my list, and the chapter of his book I reviewed was good.

  • Mpbaker2

    If you only have 15 followers, but all of them take action, is that a better metric than having 150,000 followers and 200 take action?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      By percentage, yes. by number, no.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      By percentage, yes. by number, no.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      By percentage, yes. by number, no.

  • Mpbaker2

    If you only have 15 followers, but all of them take action, is that a better metric than having 150,000 followers and 200 take action?

  • http://www.simpleweddingsblog.com Jeff Copeland

    Great point that metrics mean different things (and matter more or less) to different people. This is particularly true across industries. For example, my wife and I own Simple Weddings (a Florida destination wedding planning company), and we have a very successful website and blog.

    But the wedding industry is unique in that we have to keep working to attract a steady stream of new clients – there is obviously very little repeat business in the wedding industry – so things like blog subscribers (which many bloggers obsess over) are less important to me than daily uniques and page views. I have to take a lot of “official” marketing metrics with a grain of salt, because our industry is different.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      You’re looking for referrals, I’d imagine. You want the digital word of mouth. So retweets and likes and things like that is something worth measuring.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      You’re looking for referrals, I’d imagine. You want the digital word of mouth. So retweets and likes and things like that is something worth measuring.

  • http://www.simpleweddingsblog.com Jeff Copeland

    Great point that metrics mean different things (and matter more or less) to different people. This is particularly true across industries. For example, my wife and I own Simple Weddings (a Florida destination wedding planning company), and we have a very successful website and blog.

    But the wedding industry is unique in that we have to keep working to attract a steady stream of new clients – there is obviously very little repeat business in the wedding industry – so things like blog subscribers (which many bloggers obsess over) are less important to me than daily uniques and page views. I have to take a lot of “official” marketing metrics with a grain of salt, because our industry is different.

  • http://getBRANDWISE.com daleberkebile

    Sales are most important to us, but you certainly can’t poo-poo comments and retweets. These items may seem like they do not bring in much bottom-line cash, but they do add credibility and trust through others support. It could be safe to say that if it weren’t for these less important things, you wouldn’t be making the kind of money you make today through speaking and book sales. Am I right? Well then, all these lower value metrics are still important.

    I think where the confusion comes in is that maybe you start with: page view, traffic, followers, etc. And then you move onto others like: visitor to lead conversion, lead to customer conversion, customer lifetime value, etc., etc.

    So maybe the key is to define what Metrics do we need right now? Of course this means you have to do work and develop goals and strategies instead of flying by the seat of your pants.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I can poo poo comments and retweets. I can say (and I’m not saying this for my blog) that comments and retweets don’t sell me anything. They add to social proof, though, and that’s what you’re getting back to in your comments.

      • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

        If I am the director of business development for a Fortune 1000 firm and I want to hire a company to tell me about how I can better capture website visitor demographics and someone points me to your blog post, I might be tempted to strike a conversation with you.

        But it takes a retweet (or any analogy, including word of mouth) for your blog post to be known to me.

        Not poo poo.

        • http://markfrisk.com Mark Frisk

          Thank you, Ari, for making this trenchant point. You beat me to it.

        • http://getBRANDWISE.com daleberkebile

          Ari,
          I think you are right. some of these somewhat lesser items do still bring a lot of value are they directly closing a deal maybe not. The down side is it is hard to measure indirectly how much business these tools are bringing in.

          I can say that because I have some 2000 people reach for every blog article posting on some tool (twitter, linkedin, facebook, etc.), that I have seen a huge upswing in business since before I had this. On top of this, reaching these people on a regular basis has certainly built our reputations as leaders in the industry to both our personal (face-to-face) contacts and our digital contacts. How can that not be a good thing. It is easier to close deals these days since people know we are the experts. How can we measure that?

          Chris, you can poo poo anything you want. You may be at a different level or have different goals then some of your readers. That being said I still think every company/person needs to define their own most important metrics. Here is another example. We have new clients that are not even sure what all this stuff means, but we get them started blogging, using social media and setting up landing pages for conversions. The point is for these people it is important to see that their work is tripling their traffic and the more traffic they get the better their lead conversion becomes. Once we have these things in place then we can get more serious about stepping up into better metrics. The fact that they see improvement though keeps them blogging.

          • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

            Retweets are great. COUNTING them isn’t worth a damn, is my point. I think you might’ve missed that part.

          • http://getBRANDWISE.com daleberkebile

            No, I understand that you have to measure what’s important and as I said earlier for us it is sales growth. That’s the bottomline. However using number of retweets to get a better idea of hot topics for your target audience could be very valuable in order to know what articles to post on your blog to build the most interest and most retweets. At least this is how I use some of this data. Chris, you probably know better than me since you have been focused on this for much longer than I. So I value what your saying.

            Counting anything just to count it is useless for sure. My question is how are you using the data you are counting. If there is a way to apply it to improve business profitability is it worth counting? Of course.

          • http://getBRANDWISE.com daleberkebile

            No, I understand that you have to measure what’s important and as I said earlier for us it is sales growth. That’s the bottomline. However using number of retweets to get a better idea of hot topics for your target audience could be very valuable in order to know what articles to post on your blog to build the most interest and most retweets. At least this is how I use some of this data. Chris, you probably know better than me since you have been focused on this for much longer than I. So I value what your saying.

            Counting anything just to count it is useless for sure. My question is how are you using the data you are counting. If there is a way to apply it to improve business profitability is it worth counting? Of course.

          • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

            Retweets are great. COUNTING them isn’t worth a damn, is my point. I think you might’ve missed that part.

        • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

          Awareness is important. Tracking sales is more important.

          Meaning, I don’t give a crap if 100 people retweeted it, if I didn’t close the sale.

          That’s the point.

        • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

          Awareness is important. Tracking sales is more important.

          Meaning, I don’t give a crap if 100 people retweeted it, if I didn’t close the sale.

          That’s the point.

          • Luciana

            I totally agree with you. And do you have any hint how to track users from social media to my website? Thanks!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I can poo poo comments and retweets. I can say (and I’m not saying this for my blog) that comments and retweets don’t sell me anything. They add to social proof, though, and that’s what you’re getting back to in your comments.

  • http://www.bellaverdedesign.com Suzy @ Bella Verde Design

    If I had to categorize social media, it would go under branding. No immediate return on investment, if any, but you are getting your company out there with ease and if done right, essentially free.

    The more people you have following you the better. That is who you are branding yourself too. Why do companies spend millions of dollars advertising during super bowl? Because there are millions more people watching their commercials then on an average day.

    But I agree, keep doing what you are doing and don’t stress over the metrics. Put good content out there, listen to your readers and clients and over time the branding will thicken. You never know when someone is going to need your services, when they do, they will remember your wise words.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      See, that’s why it’s different for different people. I get direct revenue back from social media. I use it to drive sales. That’s obvious ROI. I put in x dollars and y hours and I seek back z returns.

      Depends how you plan to use it.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    Absolutely. Traffic flow is a really useful metric for lots of people. I love that you brought it up. : )

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    Absolutely. Traffic flow is a really useful metric for lots of people. I love that you brought it up. : )

  • http://www.cyclonemarketing.info Catherine Lockey

    Most people want those sales, leads, and members yet many marketing companies don’t know how to track them. Pageviews are easier but don’t provide businesses with ROI.

  • http://www.cyclonemarketing.info Catherine Lockey

    Most people want those sales, leads, and members yet many marketing companies don’t know how to track them. Pageviews are easier but don’t provide businesses with ROI.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    This is awesome stuff, Jamie. Thanks for sharing it. I love it.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    This is awesome stuff, Jamie. Thanks for sharing it. I love it.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    This is awesome stuff, Jamie. Thanks for sharing it. I love it.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    This is awesome stuff, Jamie. Thanks for sharing it. I love it.

  • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

    Why thank you :)

  • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

    Why thank you :)

  • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

    Why thank you :)

  • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman

    Why thank you :)

  • http://210consulting.com/ Jeremy Blanton

    Chris, you are right on the money… While millions of views is cool & fun to have under my belt, it doesn’t necessarily put money into my pocket. The metrics that matter are how many of those views can I convert into money. I look that that metric as the standard to my success right now.

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    I’m flattered by your kind comment, Chris. Especially given that I learned almost everything I know about social media from you.

    ;-)

    Your best tip yet has been to use social media to help others improve their lives and grow their business. If you help others, everything else will take care of itself.

    Best,
    Jamie Turner
    The 60 Second Marketer

  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    Well said. And let’s not forget that just because someone doesn’t buy today does not mean they won’t remember whom to visit when they have the need. ANY action (bookmark, tweet, comments) is another endorsement of you (in their mind). So many service providers and stores miss this important behavior – that when someone takes even the smallest action, the chance of them remembering who you are (and, hopefully what you do) increases.

  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    Well said. And let’s not forget that just because someone doesn’t buy today does not mean they won’t remember whom to visit when they have the need. ANY action (bookmark, tweet, comments) is another endorsement of you (in their mind). So many service providers and stores miss this important behavior – that when someone takes even the smallest action, the chance of them remembering who you are (and, hopefully what you do) increases.

  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    Well said. And let’s not forget that just because someone doesn’t buy today does not mean they won’t remember whom to visit when they have the need. ANY action (bookmark, tweet, comments) is another endorsement of you (in their mind). So many service providers and stores miss this important behavior – that when someone takes even the smallest action, the chance of them remembering who you are (and, hopefully what you do) increases.

  • Dr Bill Dean

    Unfortunately the only way to track sentiment which I see as important in determining the effect of the message is sales, leads, and members But in the end who cares if we’re devoted and passionate about the message?

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  • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

    Chris –

    Not sure I buy this: “The social media metric that I think does matter and that is difficult to fully qualify is sentiment.”

    Who cares if people are saying good or bad things about you or your organization if they are not buying? If positive sentiment is not moving the leads/sales needle, does it matter?

    I’m in agreement on you “Metrics I DO Like” section.

    I like sales. Can you track dollars from your links?
    I like leads. Can you track number of raw leads?
    I like members. Can you count members, who then might be further massaged into leads?

    To me, at the end of the day, it’s (almost) all about sales. No?

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory
    @djwaldow

    • http://twitter.com/cksyme Chris Syme

      It’s highly unlikely that people saying bad things about you will increase sales…on the other hand… Sentiment analysis is definitely beneficial for lots of other reasons than increasing sales–the last piece on the action ladder. That’s why customer service is no longer called customer service, but customer experience. It’s about increasing satisfaction in every stage of the action process, not just service after the sale.

      • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

        Chris – What about Dominos? Lots of bad press in SM, but they turned it around to their benefit, right? Love this last part, “…not just service after the sale.” We call that being there before, during and after the sale. Great points.

        DJ Waldow
        Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory
        @djwaldow

      • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

        Chris – What about Dominos? Lots of bad press in SM, but they turned it around to their benefit, right? Love this last part, “…not just service after the sale.” We call that being there before, during and after the sale. Great points.

        DJ Waldow
        Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory
        @djwaldow

      • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

        Chris – What about Dominos? Lots of bad press in SM, but they turned it around to their benefit, right? Love this last part, “…not just service after the sale.” We call that being there before, during and after the sale. Great points.

        DJ Waldow
        Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory
        @djwaldow

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I want both.

      • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

        Can’t argue with that…

      • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

        Can’t argue with that…

      • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

        Can’t argue with that…

  • http://twitter.com/bkajino Brandie Kajino

    Thank you for saying this. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the “popularity” numbers, and forget about the important bits. Good to have fun while connecting, but keeping our goals in mind in the end.

  • Lauren Bluth

    Timely post, we are just starting to put together our social media metrics! Can you further clarify how you differentiate perception from sentiment? And, can you give a few examples of how one might begin tracking sentiment?

    Thank you, as always for a great post.

  • Lauren Bluth

    Timely post, we are just starting to put together our social media metrics! Can you further clarify how you differentiate perception from sentiment? And, can you give a few examples of how one might begin tracking sentiment?

    Thank you, as always for a great post.

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  • Anonymous

    This is a topic that has been going on for some time and people struggle greatly with. People gravitate to the metrics that

  • Anonymous

    This is a topic that has been going on for some time and people struggle greatly with. People gravitate to the metrics that

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  • Ian MacDonald

    The problem here is the sentiment is not in the control of the Marketing Department all the time, who are usually the ones managing Social Media. Is fair for me to target my Social Media team on sentiment when a product manager then launches a web process which is rubbish and sentiment goes through the floor? No. So the only current way to target the SM team is, where possible, click throughs and subsequent behaviour (leads, conversions etc) and also volume of advocates and interactions. I wouldn’t be so quick to overlook these last two as powerful indicators of brand health.

  • Ian MacDonald

    The problem here is the sentiment is not in the control of the Marketing Department all the time, who are usually the ones managing Social Media. Is fair for me to target my Social Media team on sentiment when a product manager then launches a web process which is rubbish and sentiment goes through the floor? No. So the only current way to target the SM team is, where possible, click throughs and subsequent behaviour (leads, conversions etc) and also volume of advocates and interactions. I wouldn’t be so quick to overlook these last two as powerful indicators of brand health.