One should never establish any program or initiative unless the outcome can be measured. But, what happens when the metric is unreliable?
A common challenge facing industry professionals today is measuring the ROI of social media. Unfortunately, conventionally accepted methods rely upon faulty logic and reasoning and ultimately provide nothing of true value.
Metrics must have substance and should actually yield useful data that benchmark a specific result or action. Otherwise, your yardstick is nothing more than fool’s gold, which led to the ruin of many well-intentioned prospectors during the US gold rush of the mid-1800s.
Don’t make the same mistake by utilizing today’s social media iron pyrite: vanity metrics.
These shiny objects attract even the most seasoned social media pro with their empty promises of network prosperity and corresponding sales growth. But, much like fool’s gold, instead of hitting the mother lode of beneficial data, your prospecting pan is devoid of the assessments and critical indicators necessary to dictate further action.
Here are three examples of vanity or “mirage metrics” that offer false outcomes and provide no relief or substance for an enlightened data-seeker.
Does Size Really Matter?
Who isn’t impressed when viewing someone’s Twitter profile and discovering s/he has 10K, 20K, or even 50K or more followers. Numbers like that are eye-popping. In an industry obsessed with numbers, it seems that Likes, Followers, and Fans are overrated when compared to the one metric that truly matters: engagement. Ask yourself this question: What is the value of a large network if engagement is low? Remember, there is no magic formula. Live engagement is all it takes. Conversation is the ultimate content.
Is Sharing Really Caring?
If engagement is the definitive goal, then the number of social shares is a true measure of engagement, right? That depends. LinkedIn Likes/Shares, Twitter Retweets/Likes, Facebook Likes/Shares are an indication that someone is sharing your content. But, other than an increase in brand visibility, what is the correlated outcome? Can you link this content sharing action directly to lead generation or to a substantial increase in website traffic? Consider this: Did you share a link today without actually reading it? How valuable is that result?
Are You Under the Influence?
The top two platforms for measuring social media influence – Klout and Kred – currently include sales professionals among their highest ranked and most influential social media leaders. Is this a coincidence? When you consider that Klout scores – a measurement from 0 to 100 showing the balance of a person’s social “influence,” i.e., how many social channels s/he is talking on, how many people follow him/her, how viral his/her content is – can be easily manipulated, their value is significantly diminished. It can be argued that everyone is an influencer, based upon how the impact of his/her words – in a blog, or a tweet, or a LinkedIn post – affects the behavior of others. What does Klout/Kred actually measure – who can best fudge the numbers?
We discussed which social media metrics matter and which ones don’t during our weekly #S4LSocial Twitter chat. Here are the best tweets from that session: