The Only 3 Social Media Metrics that Really Matter

Do you keep track of the number of times your article was retweeted? You’re wasting your time. Obsessed with the number of followers you have on Facebook? Give it up. Nobody really cares in the end. If you’re looking at your social media metrics, you’re really missing the point of social media marketing.

Okay, I’ll confess to engaging in a bit of sensationalism … but not by much. My eyes glaze over when I hear marketing professionals over-emphasize social media metrics, because they are usually detached from the core business numbers that really matter. So, before you start looking at likes, shares and retweets, there are a few other numbers you should watch first. Not every business will use each of the metrics below, so read this against the backdrop of your company’s priorities and business model:

1. Conversions: When’s the last time a retweet generated money for anyone but Twitter? All that viral action and eyeball play you’re trying to generate serves the singular purpose of generating revenue, and if you aren’t converting, you aren’t making money. It’s that simple.

I know, I know: brand visibility is important, and sharing content helps with this. Brand strength, however, is what you use to make converting easier. A brand that doesn’t inspire action won’t be strong for very long. Playboy is a great example of this: everyone recognizes the bunny, but people stopped spending money on it a long time ago.

Moral of the story: make sure that anything you do to support “brand” ultimately provides a path to conversion, be it online or off.

2. Pageviews on your website or blog: if eyeballs are important for brand development, target market education pulling people into the sales cycle, then where those eyeballs are pointed matters. You want them to be as close to the conversion point as possible, with a secondary goal of bringing your target market to a place where you have complete control of your message. You have some degree of this on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, but in these environments, you are stuck with impressions that haven’t been acted on.

Measure the traffic that your social media presence drives to your company’s website or blog, and you’ll see how many people have indicated with their mouse-clicks that they are interested in learning more about your product – and possibly are interested in making a purchase. Retweets are nice, but click-throughs are better.

Moral of the story: pageviews on your website or blog show that people are seeing your message in the social media space and are taking specific action to engage with our company. This is how you can tell whether your social media marketing efforts are really generating results.

3. Opt-ins: regardless of what you might think, you don’t truly own the names you have collected on the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. These platforms, through their terms of service, restrict the activities in which you can engage, which limits your marketing options. Your house list, on the other hand, is your own. So, to take ownership of our fans and followers, you need to get them into your environment and entice them to opt in.

The metric that matters here is registration, either in the form of newsletter/email opt-ins or for deeper access to your website. You gain access to a fuller list of data points from your target market and can market to them as you see fit.

Moral of the story: you want to market on your own terms. A person who gives you information to facilitate future marketing is providing direct value to your company. This is much more important than clicking the “like” button.

Doubtless, there is plenty of value in getting users to engage with your content on social media platforms. They are spreading your message and increasing the number of people exposed to what you are saying. If all goes well, you’ll have a wider pool of people to engage with our brand and ultimately make a purchase (or enter your sales cycle). When engaging in social media marketing, don’t lose sight of what matters most. Remember, you’re running a business – you’re not working merely to generate impressions and content for the social media platforms you’re using.

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