Jonathan Greene

Social Media Metrics: Three touchy-feely numbers to help you benchmark and improve

September 14th, 2012

It’s no gigantic secret that marketing has taken a turn decidedly toward the more empathetic, conversationally oriented initiatives in the last decade. The days of corporate marketing czars sitting high atop the hill of commerce, and sipping Scotch while devising cleaver ways to manipulate consumers, have come and gone.

If you want to play the game in this new social marketing environment, you’ve got to learn how to engage people in meaningful conversations.

Given a Facebook page, the average marketer figures he or she is more social than a hipster with a smartphone. They’ve checked the social “box,” and now it’s time to return to the magical land of value propositions and conversion rates because, when measured within the context of the traditional marketing paradigm, there isn’t much return on the effort of being “social.”

Of course, we know social media marketing is valuable. For example, according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Inbound Marketing Handbook, 85% of marketers surveyed said social media is increasing in importance as a lead source, while most marketers found tactics like telemarketing, direct mail and trade shows to be decreasing in importance over the last 12 months.


Social media metrics

The problem lies in the metrics we use to measure that value. The traditional “how many, how much” metrics of historical Web analytics simple won’t do. And, while the goal of any marketing program is ROI-based metrics that truly show impact on the bottom line, many social media marketers struggle with making the transaction all the way from a top-of-the-funnel activity, like social media marketing, to revenue recognition.

So, don’t overlook the touchy-feely metrics of the social sphere to help you understand where you are and what you can do to improve. Social media isn’t paid media advertising. It isn’t a one-way conversation. Here are three metrics to get you started evaluating if you’re taking advantage of the social nature of social media:

Metric #1: Message amplification

For the most part, we’re not trying to split the atom here. These metrics are pretty much what they sound like.

Message amplification can be defined as the amount of times your messaging is “amplified” or echoed in the social sphere. You can find that number by taking the number of shares (yes, you have to count them) in the last 30 days, then dividing it by the number of posts. The result is an average shares-per-post number, which, when compared to the same metrics of your closest competitors, tells you where you stand when it comes to producing content about which people give a hoot.

Of course, this number is not adjusted for the number of total followers, so he who has the most followers wins. Given that slight injustice, we give you the next metric.


Metric #2: Shares per thousand

Again, you won’t need a PhD in statistics to follow this metric. It’s essentially the number of shares over the past 30 days divided by the total number of followers on your page.

The result is an amplification-like metric that compares your ability to engage relative to your competition, adjusted for number of followers. This is helpful because, in some circumstances, a company may have a lower message amplification rating but a higher shares-per-thousand number. This would indicate that the company might realize a disproportionately high level of benefit by focusing on adding followers.


Metric #3: Conversational ratio

This metric is particularly important for traditional marketers who are accustomed to broadcasting messages to consumers from which they do not expect the consumer to talk back.

Obviously, social media is a different animal. Consumers expect to be able to voice their opinion about product offerings and communicate with brands.

As such, this metric was developed to keep marketers on their toes about the frequency with which they broadcast content with little or no social value, as compared to the number of conversational content offerings they make.

Again, you simply count the number of conversational posts and the number of broadcasting posts, and set them against one another as a ratio. Monitor your progress over time, and in context with the same metrics from your competitors, to see your progress.


Now it’s time to optimize

Now that you’ve got your metrics, it’s time to go forth and conquer. Remember, in the social sphere, people don’t care what you’re selling, so much as who you are. These metrics can help your brand be more of a “person” and less of a white noise constant promoter, which may be the difference between spinning your wheels and building your online brand.


Related Resources:

Social Media Marketing: Analytics are free and plentiful, so use them

Marketing Research Chart: Top metrics used for measuring social marketing impact

B2B Social Media Marketing: 5 career killers and how to overcome them

Social Media Measurement: Moving forward with the data and tools at hand

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