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Mistakes Made When Measuring Social Media Success

Joakim Nilsson

When it comes to social media and metrics it seems to me like there’s a general disconnection between what we can measure, and what we should be measuring.

With the now almost, for businesses, mandatory Facebook page and twitter profiles, there’s no shortage of metrics you can collect and report on. In fact, Facebook provides you with over 300 different metrics available for download as csv-files from the Insights menu.

Are you just collecting data or actually measuring something?

A Google search on social media metrics report template (or similar) leaves no shortage of hits. Econsultancy has together with a reputed PR & Social media consultant developed what they call a social media measurement template. Unfortunately it’s not a measurement template at all, just a data collection sheet. The same goes with 98% of the so called social media metrics report template I’ve seen.


Forgive me, Econsultancy, for picking you as an example (you do a lot of great stuff), but it exemplifies whats fundamentally wrong with most social media metrics report template (or social media scorecards as I like to refer them as).

The first question I ask when I see this social media metrics report template is; when properly filled in, what do I learn from it? What intelligence does it bring? In all fairness, it’s just collecting a set of metrics from each channel and by the end of the month you know if you had more Total RTs from the previous month or not. Useful? Barely.

Instead of just collecting data, you should measure and report on actionable things

What’s your purpose of measuring a set of social media metrics? Because your boss needs a few numbers, and he feels good if you have more Facebook fans than your competitors?

Don’t despair, it happens in every organization. One senior executive even told me once that his company was a leader in social media, based on the fact that they have a few hundred thousand fans on Facebook. I wonder if his customers would say the same when they are left with no answers to their wall posts on the very same Facebook page?

But enough with my ranting, and let’s get back to what I want to measure in a social media metrics report template. We’re limiting this to owned social media channels (eg. your branded Facebook page) and quantifiable metrics (numbers, not emotions/sentiment) just as in the example template from Econsultancy above.

Things I want to measure and take action on:

· How well does the content I post resonate with my audience? (am I just wasting my time spamming a few fans or am I really getting any interaction from my network?)

· Potentially how many people do I reach?

· How large a part of my total network is interacting with me?

These are 3 metrics, or KPIs if you want, that are highly actionable. They also respond to higher business goals such as:

· Brand awareness (how many people do we potentially reach)

· Purchase consideration (how many people subscribe to us and interact with us)

As the classical line goes: you should always align your social media activities with your top business goals beforehand, not trying to justify it afterwards. But every self-proclaimed social media expert has already written that a million times before. Don’t worry about them, just buy and read Oliver Blanchard’s Social media ROI book instead, tacky title but a real deal business book.

How do I measure this?

It’s very simple, you collect the same metrics but you report on them differently. Instead of listing the metrics under each channel I want to group metrics into what they really are.


· Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers and YouTube subscribers are all measuring how many people have opted-in in for your channel. We can call this Subscriber base.

· Facebook Comments, Re-tweets, YouTube likes are all interactions from your subscribers. We can call this Engagement.

· Facebook’s People Talking About This, Tweet Audience, YouTube Views are all metrics giving you an idea of how many people your potentially Reached.

· And the missing part are your own activities. How much content to you create and post? What’s your Activity?

When you have your monthly numbers for Activity, Engagement, Reach and Subscribers, then you can start to measure how well you content resonates with your audience. I’ve written about the Content Relevance Rate before, which is basically your Engagement divided by your Published Activities.

Sharing this number with your community management, PR, social media team makes much more sense than showing a long list of what seems to be random social media metrics. Set goals for your team to improve the Content Relevance Rate and ask them what needs to be done to achieve a higher score. I would be amazed if anything bad came out from it. When I was at Betclic Everest it was a social media empowered Customer Service department that got our Content Relevance Score up, what will it be for your organization?

I’m working on my own version of a social media metrics report template, which will be distributed on Call Center IQ.

So as you understand after having read this post is that I’ve my opinion set on how metrics from your owned social media channels should be measured and reported on. In the coming weeks I’ll publish a free to download social media metrics report template licensed under Creative Commons giving you the right to use it for commercial purposes but not alter.

Sneak preview:

I’d be more than keen to hear from anyone with experience in social media metrics and how you measure and report on it!

Joakim Nilsson originally blogged on Social media metrics report template, are you just collecting data or actually measuring something here.