Brain freeze, also known as an ice-cream headache or a cold-stimulus headache, a kind of short-term headache typically linked to the rapid consumption of ice cream. While the idea of consuming your favourite ice-cream which results in a brain freeze might sound appealing, it’s very much the same feeling I sometimes get while trying to understand social media metrics, the end result, BRAIN FREEZE, delightful.
I know enough about social media metrics to hold my own or at the very least give a top line overview when in conversation. In an effort to understand those that I do, I thought it would be worth looking into the many different metrics one might track and more importantly which ones are worth focusing on.
As a social media marketer, your focus and goal regarding research should be to acquire data that helps with the decision-making process of your business. It is therefore vital that you know what you’re tracking and why.
If you have ever been in a situation where you see a metric and have no idea what to do with it, I know I have, then you’re probably looking at what is called the vanity metric. A vanity metric is data collected about a company or it’s users that do not help entrepreneurs make decisions and many claim that these metrics serve no purpose other than to make the entrepreneur feel good.
If there is going to be one key takeaway it’s this: Are the metrics you’re using helping you make decisions? You need to be able to answer this question because there is a difference between knowing what the stats mean and knowing which stats are meaningful.
Definitions of popular social media metrics
Social Media over the last 5+ years has brought a whole new range of metrics to the table for marketers to consume and dissect to their hearts content.
Metrics in general fall into *4 categories, namely:
- Consumption metrics: How many people viewed, downloaded, or listened to this content? Page views, Video views and downloads
- Sharing metrics: How resonant is this content, and how often is it shared with others? Likes, Shares, Tweets, +1, Pins & Inbound Links
- Lead generation metrics: How often does content consumption result in a lead? Webinars, Competitions, Downloads, Email Subscription, Blog Comments “Conversion Rate”
- Sales metrics: Did we actually make any money from this content and customer engagement? Social NPS, Influence, Response time
*Source – Content Strategy Consultant @Jay Baer
Related: 2015: The Year of Brand Experience
Which social media metrics should matter to you?
Of the many metrics we have to consider I believe there are 3, which for me stand out more than most. Fan Growth, Interaction and Response Time, it’s these which impact the decision making process and here’s why.
1. Fan Growth %
Fan growth or otherwise know as audience growth rate is a refinement of New Followers or similar stats, expressed in % change over time, the growth rate of your audience depicts your social media momentum.
Why it’s important is because it allows you to evaluate marketing efforts over time, without getting distracted by irrelevant information like total followers’ numbers.
It’s important not to confuse engagement with interactions and understand why interactions is now the preferred metric for measurement as demonstrated by Social Bakers.
Engagement rate measures how well your fans interact with your content. The Facebook Post ER formula takes into account Likes, Comments and Shares of the post to the total number of fans at the time is has been posted. You then multiply that by 100 to get the final percentage, which expresses how well your brand is doing in engaging your fans.
Interactions, on the other hand, serve a better purpose. Because we do not know if a competitor page has promoted a post and increased their overall engagement rate performance, hopefully someday we will have that insight, the level of interactions is non-dependent on page size and therefore is a fairer metric to measure.
The recommendation is that brands follow overall Interactions (Engagement, not Engagement Rate), check the structure of the interactions (i.e. types of interactions – likes, comments, shares), and support their interaction levels with comparisons to benchmarks at location and industry level, as well as with competitors.
By understanding how your interaction levels are comparing to your industry you can benchmark performance, and by understanding the structure of your interactions you can judge value, as naturally a share holds more weight than a simple like, this is why interactions is critical to the decision making process.
3. Response Time
Now you have your fans and they are interacting with your brand, job done? Nowhere near.
In order to be truly successful in social you should be having 2 way interactions with your fan base. This is highlighted by the rise of Social Customer Service but any conversation means your customers are taking the time to interact and it’s an opportunity to make them happy.
Seeing that most social media users are on their mobile phones, the importance of these conversations happening in as close to real time as possible becomes more apparent.
If you have an issue, you want it dealt with NOW and brands need to match the expectations of their customers. The customer owns the social media space and you owe it to your customers to own your channels. Reports state that more than 10% of customer queries are now resolved over social, so operations now need to be streamlined and one effective way of doing this is by using a dedicated social customer service CRM.
Consistency and preparation are essential to effective social media measurement. Pick your favourite metrics and start tracking them now.