There's no silver bullet for the big, bad social media measurement wolf

Share this content:
Marta Strickland
Marta Strickland

Despite the fact that Facebook and Twitter have become household names, social media measurement continues to elude marketers. While most marketers point to low-hanging fruit such as the number of Twitter followers or the number of times a video was viewed on YouTube as key social metrics, these numbers don't really mean anything without context. Number of Facebook fans – or any other simplistic metric out there – is not relevant to every brand's social media goals. That's the dirty little social media secret: the magic metric doesn't exist.

Do 1,000,000 Facebook fans make your brand a social media success? How about 100,000? Even if this number is in line with a brand's expectations, it doesn't give marketers any information on how they can adjust or optimize their program or how their social presence stacks up against their competitors. Too often, marketers become stuck in one of two ways: either they focus too much on influencing their community's day-to-day activities without a bigger-picture objective or they steer their communities toward singular goals or behaviors. Social media is not a one-off campaign or a one-way channel. It is a living, breathing communications platform that requires daily maintenance, strategic vision and benchmarked metrics to cultivate long-term success.

Rather than searching endlessly for a silver metrics bullet, brands need to first find a way to tie specific business objectives to the daily health of their social media campaigns. Tying business objectives to metrics also allows brands to know what tools they need to deploy to measure their social media success. If marketers' business objective is to influence brand perception, then conversation sentiment – rather than conversation volume – is what should be monitored and measured. The size of the online community is only as useful as the effect they have on overall online chatter about your brand. In this case, a listening platform with sentiment analysis would be an important tool in a marketer's social media tool belt.

In another example, if a brand's objective is to foster and empower brand advocates then the number of fans is important but only when coupled with the measurable influence of those advocates. Content tracking tools and techniques are critical for this objective because they will allow marketers to tell the story of where and how their content travels throughout the Internet.

Connecting the dots from number of fans to daily engagement to the spread of viral content is not impossible, it just takes work, which is why most people aren't measuring ROI.  Avoid cultivating a mob of fans simply because that's what marketers are “supposed” to do and instead tailor your social media plans with business objectives. Start with the metrics that are easiest to connect back to your objectives and then work slowly out from there, testing and optimizing along the way.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

Bookmark this section and follow our RSS Feed here

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above