social media metrics martin siebert

When people who are fond of the web and its marketing possibilties try to convince traditional marketers of this fact, they often emphasise the new possibilities of tracking offered by the digital age.

We know quite well what indicators and metrics are important. The biggest problem is, that we simply don’t look at them. We tend to neglect our metrics. This article tells you why this is so and what you can do about it and how to become more active.

Don’t look for new social media metrics: You already know what is relevant.

Every time I see a blog post that tells me „10 key metrics in social media“ or „The top 5 stats that influence your performance“ I think: ‚Hey, didn’t I read that yesterday already?‘ As a web marketer I tend to click never the less. And here we go again: I end up reading an article telling me something that I already know. Sheer numbers mean nothing. You have to interpret them. You can start with Twitter followers, listings and retweets or something else. Whatever! We all know: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are important. Maybe some would name Google Buzz, LinkedIn, MySpace and a few more. I know where my company should be active. And I basically know when what I do is successful and when it is not.

My point: You will not learn too much from reading blog posts that tell you which metrics to look at. You know that already.

The more complex the less actionable

You might say: Yeah, but what about the cool sentiment analysis and my influence and reach? Sure. If you are Apple, you want to know who is talking positively about you when you launch a product like Ping (although I doubt that Steve Jobs cares too much about what you and I personally tweet about it.) If you are Coca-Cola you might love to see that your reach is consistently increasing. But what do you do with your sentiment analysis? Forty percent love your product, 20 percent merely like it and 40 percent are negative. What’s next? Nothing is next. You can’t convert your sentiment analysis into an actionable response. And that’s a problem.

Here is another problem: Klout. I love Klout. It’s so damn easy to measure and to understand. Number „0“ is for losers like me. And „100“ is for winners. I have a Klout of 21. Robert Scoble is at 77. Michael Arrington has 65. And TechCrunch is at 97 and Mashable has the magic 100. And what is your score? Write it in the comments and tell me what you did after you found out initially? Do you know what? I guess you did nothing. I did nothing. Can’t imagine what you might have done. As Klout won’t tell us how they calculate your score it’s hard to act on it.

And still Klout is not that big of a problem. Because it does not take long to find out your number. Just a couple of seconds. That’s it. Try that with sentiment analysis :-)

My point: Forget about all these new style metrics, that aggregate all the other metrics and condense them into one number. Counting retweets is way cooler.

Our shared social media laziness

A social media couch potato

But it is just a symptom of our laziness that people try to invent better and more condensed metrics for us. The reason is that you and I don’t analyze the relevant metrics and act on them. That is the core problem. Do you know the amount of listings and followers of all Twitter accounts you run? Do you count the retweets? Do you take notes if you find out that a tweet or a status update on Twitter created a lot of retweets or likes? Do you know the topics that your audience reacts to most? I guess you know some of these numbers and some you don’t. Never mind, neither do I nor most of the other readers of this article.

But the problem gets bigger: Do you know how these metrics were over a period of months? Did they grow? If so, by how much? What was your goal? I bet only a few of you can answer this by heart. Honestly I can’t either. Even that is not a big problem: You can become very successful without having a goal. Ask Sergey Brin and Larry Page. When they started off with Google, they did not know how to earn money. They burned millions of dollars without knowing how to get them back. But they acted. They delivered.

Social media is not only for fun: It’s a vehicle to achieve goals.

Most of us do not act or deliver on Twitter and Facebook. We hang around. We babble. That’s okay if you are doing it in your free time. But if you are in social media for professional reasons, you might want to ask yourself what you are doing and whether it is effective and efficient. Because you want to get the most out of the little time that you have for social media. That is why we need to discipline ourselves and focus on results:

  • What in my field can I write, that will get me retweets and likes?
    It is almost boring to read that, right? Don’t we think about that sometimes? But have you written down anything about it yet. Do you have a concept, a tactic or even a strategy? Do you take notes about what it was that actually generated retweets, so that you can learn about it in the future. Honestly, I don’t. And I doubt that you do. But we both should definitely do it. It’s so easy.
  • What is the reason people should follow my updates on Twitter or Facebook?
    IF you have a different response for Facebook and Twitter, then you are on the right track. Look at how Mashable and TechCrunch deal with Twitter and Facebook. TechCrunch focuses more on the authors. Mashable has a question added on Facebook. That seems to make a difference.

  • What topics got a lot of Facebook and Twitter love in the last few days?
    I recommend that you simply count. Forget about the tools. Write down what mattered. That is the juice of your magic social media drink. The numbers only help to focus. They help to build awareness of topics that consistently hit the mark. If you normally get not more than 3 to 5 retweets per day and you got 15 retweets yesterday, why did it happen? That is the point where you need to start investigating. What was the big hit? What topic was it? How did you deliver it? What was different? What can you learn? What do you do next?

Keep counting and writing – on and on – focus!

That’s it. That’s my point:

  1. Stop being lazy in social media. Stop hanging around babbling.
  2. Set your goal and strategy. (At least if you use it professionally.)
  3. Count your retweets and likes. (Or get a tool for it.)
  4. If you have an outlier / outperformer: Start analysing what is so cool about it and what you can learn.
  5. Write it down.
  6. Start again with 3.

What do you think? Does it sound too simple? Tell us in the comments how you are tracking your social media metrics and share any tips on getting beyond the babble.

About the author Martin Seibert:

Martin Seibert if the founder and CEO of the social media egotracker TwentyFeet, which shows your social media and web metrics from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in one place.