These Metrics Make You Look Good

Not all social media metrics are created equal. Some can give you key actionable insights into your business, but others just flatter your ego. While that's nice every once in a while (we're all about boosting that mojo) we want to make sure you stay focused on metrics that matter. How do you know if social media is actually helping you achieve your business goals?

This week, we’re going to figure out what you need to be measuring in order for your biz or your org to justify all that time spent on social. That way, you can say this with confidence:


You've probably heard of vanity metrics. We've mentioned them before; if you've been a faithful Slice reader, you know that these are metrics that make you feel good, or impress other people, but don't actually show progress towards your business goals. These kinds of numbers include:  

  • How many followers you have
  • How many likes your post has received
  • How many times you post in a day
  • How many people are on your email list 

"But wait," you say. "If more people follow me and like my posts, and if I'm posting a whole bunch all the time, great things will happen for my business!" Will they? Prove it.

Likes and followers are nice, and it's gratifying to see those notifications come in. And it's true that if you have a large number of followers, others might think you're Hot Stuff. But a true social media maven knows that it's not about how many people are following you, but WHO those followers are and WHAT they're doing for you. Can you say with confidence that all those followers are real? Are they buying what you're selling or donating to your cause? Are they liking your posts because they're genuinely interested in what you're posting about? Or are they just trying to get a #followback?

If it's enough for you to just be able to say, "We have a lot of followers," then we understand. You might not be in the social media game to be able to activate a base of supporters at a moment's notice, or drive new customers to your website to buy that cool new product you just released, and that's your call. But if you're serious about using social media to achieve something real, we need to get the focus off of new followers, and focus on real goals and numbers. It's not enough to say your goal is to get 1,000 likes on your Facebook page, because that might not translate into even one new customer or supporter, and that's not a victory.

Let's Get Super Focused

First, let's think about why you're on social media in the first place. We've talked about setting goals before (click here for a primer), but the quick and dirty version is to think of the one key thing you need to accomplish in order for your business or organization to survive, and decide how social media will help you achieve that. For most people, it's gaining new customers or donors.

If you're a small business like The Good Lemon, the one thing you have to do to survive is make money. Social needs to help us connect with new clients and find new projects to work on; otherwise, it's not that useful (even if it might be fun). 

For example, we at TGL are big evangelists of networking via Facebook groups, because we've met some of our favorite and highest-value clients by responding in a comment thread and setting up a meeting. (You know who you are, and we <3 you!) That requires time spent checking groups and fully participating in them. That's worth doing because the result is new clients and new projects, which pay for the time we're spending.

We can turn this into something measurable, too: If we spend 2 hours per week checking groups and responding to posts, we should be booking at least one call per week with a potential new client. And, if we're reaching the right people and participating in the right groups, we should be converting at least half of those calls to new business, if not more. That's lead generation, baby!

All of this boils down to finding your revenue metrics. How do you acquire a new customer or donor, how much does it cost for you to acquire them, and what are they worth for your business over time?

Think about what helps you survive as a business or organization. What's working for you up to this point to pay the bills? 

  • If it's directly connecting with potential clients and getting them on the phone, steal what works for us. (We don't mind!)
  • If it's getting more eyes on your website and products, you should be measuring how social media drives traffic to your website in your Google Analytics, and measuring clicks on links to your website in your social media posts. Those clicks and that traffic should correlate with sales.
  • If it's getting more subscribers onto your email list (because they'll buy your product or make a donation, and you KNOW that's true), drive leads using targeted social ads, and make sure you're demonstrating the value of being on your list whenever you can. Measure the number of new email subscribers you have week over week; once again, it should mean sales.
  • If it's something totally unrelated to social media, read on.

We get it; not every business makes sales through Facebook, and that's totally cool. Here are some other things to measure that are meaningful:

  • Link clicks on your content (meaning links to YOUR content, versus clicks on links to content you didn't create, like news articles that don't even mention you)
  • Positive mentions of your company or organization by others, to audiences that might become customers or donors
  • Retweets and shares of your content by high-value users who are in your target audience

A key element of an engaging metric (versus a vanity metric) is that they’re much harder to automate. While it’s easy to boost the number of followers or likes you're getting with bots that are triggered by key words or phrases, bots typically don’t take that extra few minutes to click on the link and check out your website.

And, last thing to note: If you're not sure if your website will convert someone into a customer or donor, take a few more steps back and see if you need to work on your website before driving people to it. We can help with branding and messaging, and we know some fab developers and designers too!