Break the Useless Metrics Spell

You know you need to look at your social media metrics regularly. But does it ever feel like Groundhog Day when you try to look at your Facebook Insights or your Twitter Analytics?

We look at metrics every dang day, and track them carefully for our clients. And it's something we repeat again and again, week over week: Open the page, set the date range, find the right numbers, write them down, consider what worked, rinse, repeat.

It's hypnotic. It's robotic. It's...


Just like Bill Murray, you need to reexamine your priorities to break the spell.

What are the most important metrics to track, and how often should you track them? There are lots of numbers to choose from, and if you've read our previous posts on analytics (see the bottom of this email if you haven't!), you know you don't need to track everything. In fact, you shouldn’t.

Many of the numbers you see when you're checking your metrics are interesting, but not that useful. Some numbers just make you feel good; when you get some new followers or see some likes on your posts, you get a little hit of dopamine in your brain. (Read more about that here.) But that's only so valuable for your business.

Here's how to figure out what numbers matter to you, so you're not being hypnotized and instead can think critically about what's working and what's not.

Decide on your Most Important Metric

Maybe you posted a link to your online store and it was shared a few times; did anyone actually click and go to your website?

Or maybe you got a surge of new followers after running a contest; have any of those followers interacted with you since?

Your Most Important Metric is the one that your business is depending on to survive. If you're selling something, track the social media metric that shows if your potential customers are visiting your website: link clicks. If you're looking to build your reputation as a thought leader in your industry, look at who your new followers are and make sure they're exactly the kind of people you want to meet. You may not be getting thousands of new followers each week, but a small audience of exactly the right people doing exactly what you need them to do can do way more for you than a huge number of spam accounts.

Prioritize the rest

Other social metrics are secondary, but worth reviewing. Again, consider your goals. Is it more important for you to know how many users saw your content, or to know what they did with it? 

Reach or Impressions: Think of reach as the size of your potential audience. If you hope to get more eyeballs on your content, this is an important number. Now, this doesn't show you if your audience is taking action after seeing your stuff, but if it's important that people see what you have to say, make sure this number is always up.

Engagement: This shows you how much your audience is interacting with you in any way, shape, or form. We suggest, at the bare minimum, tracking overall engagements (total number of likes, comments, etc.), and digging a little bit deeper to track website clicks and number of page or profile views.

Here is what we tend to track regularly, per channel, week over week:

  • Facebook: page views and post engagements (this includes likes, shares, comments, and clicks)
  • Twitter: engagement rate, link clicks, RTs, likes, and replies
  • Instagram: likes, comments, profile views, and website clicks
  • LinkedIn: page views, likes, comments, and shares

Consider what worked (and what didn't) and why

Numbers are nice, but look back at what you posted recently; can you deduce why a certain post performed well, or why it didn't? You took the time (we hope) to carefully craft captions and critically consider articles before sharing them out with the world, so it behooves you to think just as carefully and critically about why it helped you meet your goal, or why it fell flat.

Look at your posts from the past week, and figure out which one performed the best and which one performed the worst, based on your Most Important Metric. Which post drove the most traffic to your website? Which post was a total waste of time and energy? Usually, the worst performers aren't seen by that many users, and the users who did see it didn't engage with it at all. 

(One important note about link clicks: Don't just track the overall number of link clicks and call it a day. It's best practice to share content from different websites and sources, but if you notice that your audience is not clicking on YOUR website ever, but clicking on other ones, that's not success.)

Schedule an appointment with yourself

Before you pull up your spreadsheet where you track your social metrics (hopefully it's your handy dandy editorial calendar), book at least 30 minutes of non-negotiable time each week to spend reviewing your metrics. We mean it: non-negotiable! That time to look back and think critically is what's going to set you free and make you feel like this: