angry baby

Data DOES NOT equal metrics

There are a great many things which make my eyes twitch: Honey Boo-Boo, middle schoolers using SnapChat…and of course the misuse of data in terms of social media strategy.

A twenty page data dashboard, lovingly delivered to a client is nonsense. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, especially that of the poor slob compiling the data.

Normally the trajectory of this institutionally induced madness looks like this:

  • Agency or internal dept is tasked with “making sure all that social media stuff is providing some positive ROI to the organization” 
  • Lowest ranked cog in the wheel is tasked to compile monthly data related to that “stuff” – a giant basket stuffed with tweets, # of posts, #of likes, # of pins, etc.
  • The now cross-eyed cog, delivers a beautifully formatted 10 pound (virtual weight of course)  to his/her boss, and then to the ultimate decision maker
  • Ultimate-decision-maker sees the 25MB PDF in his email, might EVEN open it, take a look at the first 2 pages and decide that there is certainly work being done here. Lots of data can look really really impressive.
  • ALTERNATIVE ENDING: Ultimate-decision-maker calls in cross-eyed cog and correctly says “What the hell does this all mean? Is it working or not?”  Oops, now what?

Generally speaking size matters, but not when it comes to social media metrics

Now, let’s define our terms and make this really simple. The words “data” and “metrics” are NOT synonymous. Not now, not ever.

Big Data is enormously useful. Having the data available from which to draw conclusions is a huge benefit. I like “huge”, I like “benefit”. But metrics are what matter when you’re making decisions.

So here are my low-tech definitions:

  • data = qauntified points of information (hopefully) categorized into useful buckets
  • metric = measurement/data+analysis+context

How do I create metrics for my social media efforts?

Excellent question! The question, however, is flawed. Metrics need to be created per campaign NOT per client or per brand. You need to create a fine laser focus for a specific effort or campaign.

Let’s use an example – in a few of our recent classes we’ve been using a fictitious business concept called ‘Yoga Socks for Dogs’. There are certain breeds of dogs who suffer from canine hip displasia. In our fake business idea – the yoga socks would help the dogs grip a slick surface and avoid injury. OK, dumb business idea – but it serves the purpose of this example….

The would-be company’s goals include selling more product – DUH. This is NOT data. This is NOT a metric to determine efficacy of your specific social media outcomes. In order to achieve the ultimate goal of moving product – we create a “campaign”:

Campaign Goal  : Increase fan engagement and reach; around advocacy and education related to canine hip dysplasia

That’s it – that’s your campaign goal. How you prove that you’ve achieved that goal – becomes your list of metrics. As an example

Metrics for this campaign

  • Metric #1: Current Follower’s Engagement (Pinterest)
    Number of pins and repins on Pinterest to our specific request for photos of specific breeds wearing our yoga socks for dogs
  • Metric #2: Current Fan’s Engagement (Facebook)
    Number of stories, likes, comments, shares related to our specific request on Facebook of personal stories of pets who suffer from canine hip displasia
  • Metric #3: Increased Reach & New Audience
    Increase of reach/audience on platforms during the campaign – (new fans, new Twitter followers, new Pinterest followers, etc)

Remember: create campaign level metrics, not brand level

So as you see in our goofy example – based on the data and the campaign metrics above, we would be able to determine quite clearly if the campaign to “Increase fan engagement and reach around advocacy and education related to canine hip dysplasia” was successful in the CONTEXT of the platforms and the tactics used.

But don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. After you compile your first: 24 hours, 2 weeks, and one month’s worth of data – you will have enough of a comparative baseline to decide which tactics are working, and which are not…

Next time – the most overused term in social media: the dreaded “KPI” – oof.


Check out our upcoming Metrics & Metrics Planning courses – you’ll get an earful about KPI’s


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