4 of the Most Useless Social Media Metrics to Avoid

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Social media is no doubt filled with big egos and empty metrics. While I am a huge fan of social media metrics analytics, I find it somewhat frustrating with those who tout pointless social media metrics to measure. With social media, it is important to know what social media metrics matter and which ones don't. I am not saying that you should completely dismiss the metrics I discuss below, but you should take them lightly and understand how they impact the overall picture. Let's take a look at 4 of some of the most overrated social media metrics and what you should focus on instead.

1. Klout

I might as well start this list of with the most pointless social metrics of them all. Klout "measures" a users social influence and determines a score that falls within the range 1-100. The higher the Klout Score, the more influence a person is said to have. While I understand the concept, unfortunately it is rather easy to influence/inflate Klout Scores. Therefore, I just can't justify Klout as being a social media metric to give much credibility to. I will say, that I have enjoyed a few nice perks from Klout due to my Klout Score.

2. Number of Social Shares

Twitter Retweets, Facebook Likes/Shares, LinkedIn Shares, Pinterest Pins, etc. are not the social metrics you need to be focusing on. Sure, it means someone is sharing your content and increasing your brand visibility. But are those shares driving traffic to your website? Maybe a little. I bet if you looked at the number of social shares for each channel and compared it to your Google Analytics data, chances are that the shares far outweigh the number of visits from that source. A large number of people share a link without actually reading it. Therefore, concentrating on social shares is somewhat misleading if you are looking to social channels for traffic generation. You should be focusing on the number of visits referred to your site through a social channel instead.

3. Traffic From Social Media

While this definitely conflicts with the advice I recommend above, I think it is something that should also be looked at a little closer. Not all traffic is created equal. In fact, of the website visitors you get from social media, do they visit more than one page of your website? Do they subscribe to your RSS or signup for your newsletter? Do they submit a contact form? Basically, do they do anything that will ultimately increase your bottom line? To really know, I would recommend tying Google Analytics goals to social media traffic to fully understand the value of the traffic and results of your efforts.

4. Number of Followers, Fans, Etc.

There is no denying that social media is a numbers game. The larger your follower base, the more people you can potentially reach. However, to really grow these numbers it takes time if you are doing it right. Even when you try to do things right, your profiles can fall victim to fake social media accounts. Not only do you have to worry about fake social profiles, but what happens when one of the social sites you spent so much time on has become the next Myspace? The social vanity metric you spent so much time on growing is now irrelevant. A better approach than measuring the total number of fans would be to attribute meaningful goals achieved as a result of your social audience. For example, track the number of newsletter signups or users who downloaded a guide that occurred from a social channel or users who purchased product from live video shopping events. These type of actions have more of an impact on your bottom line since they are showing signs/interest in what you offer and are ultimately moving further down your sales funnel.

Social Media Metrics Are Important

There is no doubt that social media metrics are important. You definitely need to measure the results of your initiatives. However, you need to be sure that you are measuring social media metrics that matter. For example: You had 100 new Facebook Fans this month?  So what? Did they engage with your posts? Click through and visit your site? You had a tweet that was retweeted 1000 times? How much traffic did it result in and did that traffic convert a goal on your website? While the 4 social media metrics listed above might seem pointless at a high level, you can see by digging deeper into each one of them you can find meaningful data to track. Data that means something. Data that helps your business focus on social media lead generation. Ultimately, data that can show an impact on your bottom line. And if you really want to move the needle for your bottom line, you'll need to focus on business metrics that matter.

What Social Media Metrics Do You Focus On?

When measuring the success (or failures) of your social media initiatives, what are the core metrics that you focus on? What metrics do you wish you had more insight on? What do you find difficult to measure? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
  • laurirottmayer March 29, 2014

    Completely with you on the Klout thing and I’ve been called a Klout basher. I simply don’t see what I gain from having it. I’m doing well without it. Since my dog, who has never tweeted for himself has a Klout score that’s higher than my son and husband who are actual humans, I just can’t get behind it. 😉 Great post!

    • Chris Makara April 1, 2014

      Yeah it is funny how non humans can have Klout scores. Decent scores as well! It is hard to take a platform serious when issues like this are present. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, have a good one!

  • Natalie K. Gould April 18, 2014

    Chris, couldn’t agree more. In fact I was just talking about this with a client this week. Too often social media metrics are divorced from “regular” metrics. I take a much more hard-nosed approach when it comes to evaluating social media success — really digging into Google Analytics and letting it inform my recommendations for clients. Google Analytics holds a wellspring of information regarding social media if we’re willing to spend a little time digging and setting up goals. The daily and hourly data I find particularly interesting. Thanks for this blog post.

    • Chris Makara April 20, 2014

      Great points Natalie. I agree that so much more detailed/important metrics can be found by digging deeper into Google Analytics as well as setting up various goals. The daily/hourly insight can provide key information on your social media initiatives and definitely help guide your clients into smarter social initiatives. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave such a great comment.

  • Sneha April 22, 2014

    Engagement? I have had several pages with high levels of engagement – but its been difficult to compartmentalize those comments – into positive, negative, action-worthy, irrelevant. FB should start a feature that lets you get deeper into understanding what your followers are saying – will help improvise the product/service/ be practive

  • Dave Heywood May 12, 2015

    Could not agree more – I recently conducted a workshop with my team about how we define our marketing reach and social likes/shares etc didn’t make the cut! Instead only counting those who go through to the web and then do something tangible.

    At the end of the day when reporting at CEO/board level, they couldn’t care less how many likes we have…more what it’s doing for the business

    • Chris Makara May 12, 2015

      Very nice Dave! Yep, at the end of the day it is all about what it can bring to help the bottom line.

      Btw, I am working on a new blog post that you might be interested in – it covers how to more accurately track your social initiatives at a large scale. I hope to have it ready in the next week or two 🙂

  • WindyCityParrot July 23, 2015

    I could walk down the streets of downtown Chicago naked and no one would notice because they are all interested in something on a 4 inch screen. Joggers jog with phones – moms ignore children – all tuned into social media. WTF is so important that it can;t wait until you get across the street?

    But it doesn’t scale – Coke has 8,000,000 Facebook fans we have 300,000 – one day I looked at one post Coke had 1000 likes & 80 shares we had a post at about 900 likes and 75 shares – how can that be (asking rhetorically) – it defies logical data precepts.

    So I climbed the mountain (via email) and asked the 3 wise men – Jon Loomer – Ian Cleary – Chris Voss – why do 1000 organic visitors from Google place 30 to 50 orders on our ecommerce site and 1000 organic visitors from Facebook place only 1 – 2 orders. I got the same answer in several forms “I dunno” confirming the lack of any holistic view of the web by any of the “experts” (Loomer didn’t know what a SERP was)

    No Chris – it’s not 4 – it’s EVERY social media metric & talking head/social media wonk that is over rated – no offense intended 😉

    • Chris Makara July 24, 2015

      No offense taken 🙂

      You make some very good points. Whenever I talk to a potential client/client about social media, I am upfront about expectation of sales.

      I am not sure why (you kind of touched on this), but in my opinion social media is not really a sales channel. Anyone who goes into the expectation of making tons of sales from social will more than likely be disappointed.

      Do sales happen? Yes.

      However, most people who want to use social as a sales channel only think of it from a business perspective and not as the end user.

      I highly doubt anyone gets on social media each day looking to be sold to. So sales pitches on social are basically interruption marketing. Instead social channels should be used to build the brand/awareness of the company/product/service through non-salesy posts.

      Whereas visitors who arrive from Google are more than likely actively looking to buy something based on their search intent. Which would ultimately lead to higher conversions.

  • WindyCityParrot July 23, 2015

    follow up – dovetailing CRO (which you offer) and social media – at the bottom of your site you offer 4 calls to action – one asks if I’d like a consultation – the other 3 send me to social media cesspools

    would you rather have a conversation & try to close me on a digital serves package or have me circle you on G+?

    • Chris Makara July 24, 2015

      Obviously it’s the consultation 🙂 in fact, I’m starting a redesign soon on this site, I just haven’t had the time lately to do so.

      • WindyCityParrot July 24, 2015

        FYI when we removed ALL social media logos prior to our new responsive site redesign this past April We saw a slight uptick (about 1/4%) in conversions – that sealed it for me

        best of luck on the site redesign – it took me about 3 days of staring at 6 computer/mobile screens to have the epiphany that executing responsive design requires 6 designs – desktop portrait and landscape – tablet portrait and landscape – smartphone portrait and landscape – it took me 2 days to design our logo because it’s size jumps 300% from a smartphone to a 24 in desktop monitor

        now that the new sites been live for 3 months we starting redesign round 2 because of the law of unexpected consequences – ie how do you handle the “hamburger”

        if you think you know html (i’m just a hack) html5 is like kryptonite – I’ve sadly lost my html powers

        • Chris Makara July 25, 2015

          Thanks for sharing. I’m in the same boat as you with HTML skills…so I know the feeling 🙂

  • K Mac November 30, 2015

    Agreed on all this. The number of followers doesn’t matter if they’re not engaging. Sure, thousands of followers on Twitter looks great on paper, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not engaging your audience.
    I say it all the time to clients and employers about social media: it’s not a strategy, it’s a tactic; one that requires an extra level of mutual engagement to be fruitful. It can’t be treated as a one-way street and it can’t all be macro communications. It has to be micro.
    Successful social media is organic, genuine and relatable. The audience has to feel they’re gaining some measure of value by following you on Facebook or Twitter. Klout will never be a proper yardstick to measure that.
    Just my two cents.

    • Chris Makara December 1, 2015

      Great insight, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

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