We can’t deny it – we live in a digital world. Every day, marketers must manage social media channels, monitor website visits, analyze analytics and perform dozens of various tasks, all to make sure their brand is performing at peak capacity.
But is posting regularly and checking website analytics enough? How do you truly evaluate what you’re doing to separate the valid metrics from those that appeal to our vanity?
First, you have to set benchmarks before the beginning of any campaign. Comparing your results to your initial benchmarks will tell you why your campaign was successful, help guide upcoming marketing decisions, and reveal opportunities you can capitalize on during future campaigns. Without benchmarks, you’re blindly guessing and your data isn’t providing you with real answers.
Second, you have to know which benchmarks to monitor. In this post, I’ll explain two different vanity metrics – metrics that are thought to indicate success but are typically taken out of context and disconnected from reality - and I’ll provide two valid key performance indicators that are better to monitor for a truer measure of campaign success.
Vanity – Followers:
Picture this: you’ve launched your campaign. You login to your social media measurement tool to evaluate after the first month, and you have thousands of Facebook likes, Twitter followers and blog subscribers. The campaign has been a success, right? Maybe, but how can you be sure? What if, out of all your new fans, none of them have taken any kind of action? You have the numbers, but odds are you’ve attracted the wrong audience. Your audience is happy to click “Follow” or “Like” but is reluctant to do anything after that. How do you determine which members of your audience are valuable and which ones are simply a number? The answer is, you have to further analyze your audience to make sure your messaging has impact.
Vanity – Impressions:
Vanity metrics have the tendency to focus on quantity over quality. They value tons of views and visits over actions. On the surface, the bigger numbers look and sound better. But when you dive deeper, you’ll be able to see what your audience is doing once they’ve seen your posts. Impressions show how many people have the potential to see a tweet, post or blog. But they don’t break it down further, causing marketers to wonder if their messages are really hitting their mark.
Valid – Active users:
A user who subscribes to your blog or chooses to follow you on social media but fails to take further action offers very little value to your brand. Don’t focus so much on the numbers. Instead, focus on what your audience is doing once they see the call-to-action. After all, a growing amount of subscribers and followers can provide your brand with a false positive. Your numbers could be consistently on the rise, but it could be an instance of ‘one and done.’ Your audience sees your message, but then they leave, offering no value or return on your investment. You have to make sure to ask yourself: Is your audience responding? If they aren’t, you need to reevaluate your digital strategy and campaign messaging.
Valid – Engagement:
One of the great benefits of social media is that it supplies a two-way conversation between the brand and the consumer. By doing this, brands can establish a relationship with their customer base. Instead of monitoring impressions alone, marketers need to evaluate their engagement levels. Impressions show possible views. Engagements can take those impressions and show which of your consumers performed an action upon seeing your message. Marketing professionals should focus on actions rather than potential views.
On occasion, it’s okay to work vanity metrics into your evaluation. Just make sure you’re also using valid metrics – such as active users and engagement – to understand the true success of your campaign efforts.
About the Author: Media Specialist Jordan Overton manages the online presence of various local, regional and national nonprofits and corporate clients. He also contributes to Bohlsen Group’s digital strategy. Find Jordan on Twitter: @jordantoverton