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Christie McDougall

Christie McDougall

Beware: you could be measuring the wrong social media metrics!

Measuring your Return on Investment (ROI) is never a black and white endeavour as inevitably if you market across multiple channels they all feed into one other, but far too often businesses focus on the wrong metrics (especially for social media) and it leaves them in the dark when it comes to measuring the true success (or dare we say failure) of their marketing campaign.

The old adage “what gets measured, gets managed”, is very true for business, but if you’re measuring the wrong thing, then it would stand to reason you are managing the wrong thing, or getting a false impression of your business. When it comes to metrics and campaign tracking, one of the easiest mistakes businesses can make is to make is to focus on “vanity metrics,” instead of the metrics that really matter.

What are Vanity Metrics?

Vanity metrics can be things like page views, the number of followers, or the number likes. They make you feel good, but they don’t actually add anything to your bottom line. Let’s explain… If the goals of your social media campaign are to raise sales and revenue, then vastly increased numbers of “likes,” “shares,” and “follows” are just not enough. Even if your posts are receiving lots of “likes” and “shares,” and getting you many more followers,  none of those likers, sharers, or followers may purchase a single item. So what you’ve got is a lovely big balloon that looks amazing, but is essentially filled with hot air and no dollars. Not ideal.

Now that’s not to say that these metrics are useless because they do have their place. Without followers, you have no audience. And without a steady level of engagement, the algorithms of many social networks begin to work against you—making it harder for your social content to even reach that audience. These metrics quite literally keep social media running. Followers, shares, likes, and comments also represent an invaluable piece of information for any business: whether or not people care about what you’re saying.

So how do you tell whats important and whats not? A vanity metric is a metric that has no direct link with the overall aim of your social media campaign. So it’s like trying to tell how delicious apples are, but buying bananas instead – both are good but there needs to be a direct correlation between your goals and how you measure them.

This is where Actionable Metrics come into play

Actionable metrics are tied much more to your business objectives and goals than vanity metrics are. This may mean employing more advanced techniques like installing Facebook Pixels on your website. For example, if you are trying to get people to download your free guide so you can follow up with an email sequence to convert them into a paying customer, then tracking your “leads” is an actionable metric. Especially if you know what percentage of people who download the guide convert into customers – you are able to then assign an approximate dollar value. This makes it much easier to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, because you know that of X amount of dollars you are putting in you are getting Y amount of dollars out. This essentially lets businesses measure the viability of their social media efforts or if they need to make changes to get the results they are after.

Overall, your goal should be to track the kinds of activities that lead to customer acquisition, sales, and revenue down the line. If you have a highly interactive page, you may want to track certain clicks as an engagement tool. Or, if your site is highly static and you don’t have a blog, you may want to focus on a metric like pages viewed per visit. It all depends on how your site is set up and what you’re hoping increased engagement will lead to. The point being that your engagement has to lead to something more tangible, otherwise your efforts are being wasted.

Here are a few examples:

  • Business conversions: Our objective is to provide our sales team with high-quality leads through social media.
  • Brand awareness: Our objective is to increase awareness of our new product before it launches and take attention away from our competitors.
  • Customer experience: Our objective is to turn our customers into loyal brand advocates by improving customer service.

Here’s how “vanity” metrics can be used to measure whether or not you’re achieving those objectives:

Objective: Business conversions
Social metric: Link clicks

Instead of only tracking the number of link clicks your posts on social generated, track the behavior of those visitors once they arrive on your website and come face to face with a lead generation tactic or a prompt to contact your business directly.

How getting it right can make all the difference

Reporting on the right metrics can help inform your future ad spends. Create campaigns that mimic your highest performing organic posts or run a campaign that re-targets people who have previously interacted with your content. Knowing what works well enable your business not only to duplicate the results but apply what you’ve learned to new campaigns so they can achieve greater success. Also, remember that social media is a long-term investment so be patient. The benefits of implementing what you learn by monitoring actionable metrics won’t appear overnight.

Think your business is tracking the wrong information? Give our team a call and we can help you assess what it’s important and how to get actionable data that helps grow your business.




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Christie McDougall
Christie McDougall

Christie is our Digital Strategy manager and looks after our playbook process. Although she is most skilled in Social Media and PPC and helped TheOnlineCo. achieved Facebook Marketing Partner status, she has a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of marketing in a digital world. She uses her talents in strategy and planning to help clients understand exactly how to grow their business online and have all their marketing efforts pulling together in a collaborative effort, thereby achieving scale and cost efficiencies.

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