The Importance of Focusing on Actionable Social Media Metrics

I think we can all agree that one of the biggest problems with social media is how much time it takes to implement a successful campaign. That time that you are spending strategizing, building personas, designing, implementing and analyzing is costing you and your company a ton of money – especially if you can’t justify if it is even doing anything.

It really astonishes me how much people focus on quantitative metrics. All they want to see is that they have 30,000 followers on Twitter. Regardless if they are 90% spam bots and terrible leads. But which would you rather have: those 30,000 followers or a 10% reduction in customer support costs because you were able to solve an extra 200 support tickets over Twitter. Those qualitative metrics are the key to measuring ROI on Twitter.

So how do we determine what qualitative metrics to focus on? That’s actually a pretty loaded question and it’s going to depend on what your objectives are with your social media campaign. To be honest, that’s actually where most strategies shoot themselves in the foot. They don’t spend enough time debating what they need to accomplish in social media and what is possible based on how their audience is participating in that particular social space.

That’s a very important point to pay attention to. You need to understand exactly how your audience is using a particular social network and determine what their mindset is while using it. Are they using it for personal interest or have you found that they routinely discuss purchasing decisions and talk about your company or competitors?

The next thing you need to do if you’ve determined that it is the right social network for you to participate in, is decide what the right use of that social network is. Is it really a good idea to turn your Fan Page into a support channel?

Once you’ve determined what your strategy is, it’s time to figure out what qualitative metric to associate with it. Here are a few examples you should consider (and think about framing other KPIs around in a similar format):

  1. Number of people in a specific location who follow you on Twitter
  2. Reduction in support costs
  3. Number of product improvement suggestions from FAcebook fans
  4. Increase in product reviews & ratings
  5. Increase in share of voice (brand awareness)

When it comes to calculating these metrics, I encourage you to head over to this great report by the Altimeter Group and Web Analytics Demystified. They do a great job of walking you through equations to measure these qualitative metrics, and they’ll give you the types of numbers that typically attract us to quantitative metrics.

What types of qualitative metrics is your social media strategy focusing on?