Quick Thought: Appropriate Metrics of Success With Social Media

(I don’t have time right now to fully develop these thoughts but I want to get them out there while they’re on my mind. I’m sure others have thought about this much more extensively and I would appreciate pointers to them!)

I don’t know if many of us yet know what measures of success to employ in our use of social media. It seems that many people still believe that coarse numbers – fans, followers, etc. – are good indicators of success. But it seems to me that those are preliminary or perhaps necessary-but-not-sufficient indicators. Of course, that assumes that people are actually trying to do things with social media, things other than simply collect an audience of questionable value (you don’t really believe that everyone who indicates an interest in your page, account, etc. is really interested and interested to the same degree as everyone else, do you?).

Although I don’t know what measures we should employ, I strongly suspect they have as much to do with social media as our objectives (i.e. very little). Most people aren’t using social media for its own sake but to accomplish some goals or effect change. So we know if we’re successful if we’ve accomplished those goals or created change, right? I don’t think we can determine that by counting fans, followers, or visitors.


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2 responses to “Quick Thought: Appropriate Metrics of Success With Social Media”

  1. Matthew VB Avatar

    Great thoughts Kevin. There’s a lot to digest with such a simple question: how do you effectively measure social media impact. This is something that I’ve been diving into a lot recently.

    Here are some thoughts:
    1) It doesn’t matter how many followers, friends, posts, tweets, etc. you have if your message isn’t getting out and acted on.
    2) You should measure your friends, followers, etc. – as that’s a metric; however, it’s not the only metric. It does show grow of audience and possible penetration of the message.
    3) I think a good social media campaign drives people to an action. You can tweet, FB post, etc – but that should lead people to do something. For example, at my office, we use social media and our blog to drive people to request training from our college.
    4) When it comes to online success – it’s through a variety of metrics and data points that we measure and analyze what’s going on and how it’s perceived.

    I recently posted on these types of topics on my blog.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Kevin R. Guidry Avatar

    Thanks, Matt. I think this is the same conversation that’s been surrounding outcomes assessment for many years: No, it’s not sufficient to simply count the number of students who attended or the number of programs/events/etc. put on each semester. Presumably those programs/events/etc. have a goal beyond mere attendance so we need to know if we met that goal. Yes, it’s hard to try to measure outcomes but how else do we know if we’re being successful? (And I’ll even accept measurements of proxies of success sometimes but it’s often just as hard to identify good proxies!)

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