social media: Metrics to know and metrics to skip FAQ #3

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/08/13 1 views

in a analytics taking action

    It is not the technology – it’s what you do with the information that counts.
    I tell you why successful social media activites build on performance objectives and metrics that exhibit four characteristics.
    Without, you may not accomplish what you really needed to, in order to improve your bottom line.

Previously I addressed some of the issues that must be addressed when trying to establish the metrics needed to assess if your blogging or social marketing efforts are a success or not:

    Tip 1 – choose your metrics carefully and then stick with them – it takes time to succeed
    Tip 2 – don’t wait to measure ‘conversation’ for your blog – the accepted metric to do this properly will not be here next month

I explained this here: social media – metrics to know and metrics to skip – FAQ #1

So now you have chosen your metrics carefully (tip 1) and figured out that some things cannot be measured, now you need to choose what you want to focus on as addressed here:

    Tip 3 – focus on outcome the rest is just fluff – figure out what outcome measures you want to focus on and yes, quantitative measures might not always give you the insight you want.
    Tip 4 – focus on two outcome metrics that you will act on – this means that unless you will use this information to make a decision that is important to you, don’t worry about it.

I explained this here: social media – metrics to know and metrics to skip – FAQ #2

Therefore, the above suggests that some concepts are tough to measure and it takes time to succeed. As well, unless you use the information to make decisions and you focus on two measures (focus – do not get distracted from measuring too many things that are irrelevant) – why do it? Unfortunately, in many cases we have a tendency to wanting to measure nearly everything and anything. This is not smart.

5) What measure should one use?

I have pointed out before that metrics are in the eyes of the beholder. Nevertheless, do the two measures you use make sense? While using unique visitors to a web site is a good start, it fails to tell one how many of these might just be search engine robots. Stowe Boyd suggested the conversational index To illustrate; one could have more than one comment added to each of one’s blog posts. Unfortunately, most might add little to a great story (see an example here Top 142 Social Marketing Blogs on the Web) and other times the comment may provide more insights than the original post. As well, the age group and profession you attract – accountants – may explain why you get fewer comments than if your audience are teenagers that hang out using Facebook.

Using primarily volume or traffic to measure potential success may not result in one’s cash register ringing. In the performance appraisal and goal setting literature, people talk about comprehensive goals generally exhibiting four characteristics, namely:

a) time (within what time frame – performing today but getting deferred rewards – what it means for profits and trust 12 months later),

b) money (revenues, profits, costs incurred by firm),

c) quality (what is acceptable performance and what risks must be taken to achieve it), AND

d) output level attained (how many gadgets made, new clients signed-up, blog posts written).

Therefore, if we look at the current crisis in financial markets, rainmakers are forced to make large and many deals to bring in the beacon. This generally allows banks to benefit from huge fees, in turn, resulting in bonuses for the rainmaker and his team. However, a good reward system following the four characteristics outlined above would prevent this. For instance, it would defer paying out bonuses for a few years. To illustrate, the Alcatel-Lucent merger was bad for shareholders. Unfortunately, Pat Russo was paid her bonus a while back. On top, she got a nice severance package when the board showed her the door early this month. Hence, deferred rewards and bonuses are a good idea in financial markets as well as social media and social marketing.

So what does this mean for social media activities, performance and Return-on-Investment or RoI?

If you want to improve your ranking in one list of blogs or another, you need to address such issues as:

– what time will you give yourself (e.g., 3-hours each week for six months until you assess performance)?

– what costs and risks are you willing to take to get there?

– what quality are you willing to accept (e.g., quality of posts, comments and hyperlinks provided to white papers)?

– how many posts will you write each week for your blog?

Accordingly, if you want your Google PageRank to improve, how much time will you give yourself? At what price and what increase in PageRank will you accept as representing success, while still allowing you to have time to play with your kids.

Tip 5. Use comprehensive metrics that are based on objectives entailing these four characteristics: a time, money, quality/risk and output level component. Not following this approach when setting objectives for your social media or social marketing activities, unfortunately, risks you being ineffective and wasting scarce resources.

Bottom Line

We have pointed out before that metrics are in the eyes of the beholder. If you choose two outcome metrics (Tip 4 above), make sure you set yourself comprehensive objectives that include the four characteristics outlined above ==> time, money, quality/risk level, output level it takes to get where you want to be – top 100 rankings. Then go and measure!


An analysis with Google Insight shows that many of these tools are limited to certain user groups – geeks might search using LinkedIn or Twitter. In addition, Google Insight is just querying the frequency of search terms not actual usage.

Please check out:
follow Commetrics on Twitter be the first to know – subscribe three metrics – influence, impact and outcome
Financial Times – is blogging good value? social media metrics – ropes to skip – what you must do before benchmarking away Replacing pageviews and unique visitors – sensible metrics with Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Furl just impossible

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