Depending upon your age, humanity and its online alter ego may have always coexisted in a symbiotic relationship. Let’s decrease the difficulty level: do you remember when your brand made the decision to incorporate social media into its marketing mix? This is much easier for most to remember because it ushered in a new era of marketing – one in direct conflict with Peter Drucker’s enduring, if not too-often repeated, piece of wisdom “What gets measured, gets managed.”
When social media measurement was new and available data was sparse, most brands relied exclusively on so-called “vanity metrics” to quantify success. Classical engagement — the number of “followers” or “likes” that social media channels collected — was the primary metric considered. Brands quickly realized they needed more informative metrics connected to meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) reflecting their business objectives. They needed to determine social media’s impact on the bottom line to demonstrate social ROI.
Vanity metrics do not have a direct tie to revenue, so they get a bad rap. Traditional vanity metrics include Facebook “likes,” Twitter “followers,” and “page views” or “unique visitors” for blog posts (a personal thanks to you the reader). While obsessing over the number of Facebook likes you collect won’t necessarily win over a buying customer, vanity metrics do have their place when used alongside other metrics. Let’s explore a few of these metrics and the insights they can provide.
Focusing on Followers
Is your organic growth picking up or slowing down? Many factors influence growth rates, but by tracking follower growth, you can pick up on revealing patterns in your data. Does certain content cause sudden drops in your number of followers? Are you reaching the right people? Digging deeper into the demographics of your followers (on platforms through which that data is available) will allow you to determine whether your followers really represent your target demographic. It’s also important to look at other metrics to evaluate whether stagnant accounts are still performing well in other aspects such as engagement or click-through rates, traffic, and conversions.
Analyzing customer engagement can be one of the most important ways to gain insights into your content strategy as well as your followers. Of course, all those shares, video views, and comments should yield a positive ROI for your business; however, if you know what type of content works best for your audience on each channel, it will help determine your investment strategy.
Do your videos receive a lot of views but low completion rates? Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn now auto-play videos by default. This makes it rather challenging to analyze video performance. One way to look at it is through completion rates rather than total video views. Which videos compel your followers to stop scrolling and watch long enough to reach that all-important call-to-action and link?
Analyzing Page Views
On the surface, page views — counting the number of “hits” your web page or blog gets — is another vanity metric. No, by itself, it will not reveal how your content on the page is moving the needle for your brand. For insight like that, you will need to explore not only what happens further down the conversion path, but also the contribution of the page view to the desirable user behavior on the site. However, using page views alongside smart segmentation and a few additional metrics will help you assess the quality of the page’s content.
Does your blog content attract ongoing traffic while traffic to other pages tapers off quickly? This could either indicate some pages are better optimized for search engines (look at your persistent traffic sources) or that some content is compelling enough for people to continue sharing (check out your social shares on various platforms). It could also indicate that some content types are more relevant to your audience, so grouping your pages by content type or topic, and then assessing average lifespan for each, may give you insight into what you should focus on in the future.
What is the best referring channel? Do people who are visiting from different sources behave differently? Perhaps one source yields more bounces than average, and a different source drives more conversions down the line. Segmenting traffic can help you fine-tune content that is targeted toward different customer segments and identify where your target customers roam free.
Social media has shifted the dynamic, and how people interact with brands and products is much different from just a few years ago. Today, social media is no longer experimental, but an essential channel contributing to all business functions. The key is in showing how top-line metrics align with key objectives and providing insight into how these results impact the bottom line. As your brand becomes better versed in social media measurement, engagement categories such as conversation rate, amplification rate, applause rate, and economic value will ultimately guide the allocation of marketing resources and offer a clearer path to quantifiable ROI.