Ok, I admit, there is a bit of link bait in the title of this post – but less than you might think.
There are two fundamental types of metrics – input and output metrics. As you might suspect input metrics measure the things that go in to creating change in output metrics. The metrics that really matter to you, your brand, and your business are output metrics – they measure results. These are the metrics that diagnose the fundamental health of the company. Sales, Revenues, EBITDA, Customer Retention, Revenue per Subscriber – whatever they happen to be for your business.
Why am I talking about input and output metrics? Because it is important to understand that Social Media metrics are input metrics. That means that they do not diagnose the fundamental health of the brand or company – they are measures of things that go in to creating results (output metrics).
So the next time someone tells you your brand has a negative “sentiment rating” on Social Media – or that your number of followers is too low for a brand “of your stature” remind yourself what those outcome metrics are – and ask yourself this:
Are you willing to swap sentiment for revenue as a core outcome measure?
Of course not, that would be foolish – and if you are a CEO it would likely get your fired.
The important question is how do these Social Media metrics contribute to (or detract from) the outcome metrics (results) you are trying to obtain for your company? Does investing 5 million dollars in changing the Social Media sentiment about your brand generate a change in sales or revenue? If you add 500 followers how much additional revenue per subscriber should you expect?
What you really need isn’t Social Media metrics – what you need is correlations between Social Media measures and your core output metrics. What CMOs need is the ability to measure over time the impact of Social Media campaigns (and metrics) on output metrics and – over time – be able to focus in on the Social Media activities that product the results (changes in outcome measures) that matter.
My humble suggestion is that we focus on the outcomes we want, stop obsessing over anecdotes and get down to the business of correlating what happens in Social Media to our core business metrics.