Is your company confusing social distribution with content effectiveness? As more and more companies are expanding their social, particularly into the realm of social media, it is becoming crucial to understand the metrics. Content Marketing Institute states that, “metrics such as shares, re-tweets, and views are often the easiest and most obvious to gather, but they may be the most deceptive and unreliable when evaluating whether your content is genuinely making a difference.”
                The point of social is to build a relationship with your customers, to market your brand, but more importantly to increase your ROI, meaning conversion to an increase in sales. Marketers these days may be tracking metrics, but you need to be sure they are tracking the right metrics. For example, engagement used to mean something. It meant capturing, holding attention, and interacting with customers, but now with social media, engagement may just mean a “like”, a “re-tweet”, or an open.
                According to The Fournaise Marketing Group, 76% of marketers use the wrong KPIs and metrics to assess the effectiveness of their strategies. And most marketers are still considering market effectiveness to be about awareness (74%) and/or engagement (71%). About 86% believe engagement was a form of conversion. But just think, are customers scrolling through your social content and then “liking” your page or “re-tweeting” your content but then never buying the product?

Here are four of the worst social metrics, since they do not necessarily imply conversion:

1.       Shares: Whether this means re-tweeting on Twitter, posting on your Facebook wall or Instagram page, sharing content does not reflect the impact of the social media platform on conversion rate. In fact, as of September, Twitter removed the share counts from its widgets, buttons, and API because the share count was “never an accurate measure of social engagement with the content.” Your customer shared something you posted on social media, so what! A better metric would be to track if whatever you posted and the customer shared then resulted in a sale as a direct effect of the content posted.

2.       Views on Facebook: On Facebook, if a customer is slowly scrolling through their feed and scroll upon a video, the video posted begins silently streaming and within three seconds, Facebook counts it as a view. But did your customer even see the video? Did they watch it? Most likely not, they were probably scrolling slowly and they might have looked away from the screen or if you are lucky they may have briefly saw it. YouTube, however, only counts a view after approximately 30 seconds, reducing the number of accidental views or bounces. But even this is a flawed metric. How many viewers made it to the end of the video? So, when marketers are sending metrics to you about number of video views, at least now you are educated about what this means and can ask more questions to get better metrics.

3.       “Likes” on all social media platforms: As you may know, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn have ways for you to “like” content shared. But what do these “likes” mean? You may be thinking well even if a like is an inaccurate measure of content effectiveness at least it is still better than no measure at all. To your point, numbers don’t lie, but they do not tell the whole truth. Presenting the number of “likes” to your boss in reality means nothing. For starters, you aren’t comparing apples-to-apples. What if you have more followers on Instagram than the number of friends you have on Facebook? Then coincidentally you are already not able to reach as many people on Facebook. So if you post one piece of content on Instagram that gets more “likes” than a different post on Facebook how are you able to compare? Additionally, how many of these “likes” contributed to your bottom-line? Was it a direct correlation to a sale? Likely, just by presenting these “likes” you did not ask these questions and the metric “like” here means nothing.

4.       Opens for email: You know those automatic emails that get generated daily and sent to your entire address book? Even if you are requesting a read receipt from the email sent, sometimes the email doesn’t even get opened. The reader may be able to view it in their side viewing panel and then click “yes to send read receipt.” And even if the email was opened, within seconds it might be deleted and therefore there was no conversion. Great, you sent 100,000 emails that day and 95% of them were opened, but what was the effect on your company? This is another useless metric that needs to be avoided.

It is important to not hide behind numbers that are flawed, inaccurate, inconsistent, or meaningless. Social can be a great way to share content and while we are not advising you to stop distributing content, we do caution you about the types of metrics you are analyzing. Stop to think if the metrics being measured really show insight into content effectiveness and translate directly to your bottom-line, if not, you have to take the numbers for what they really are, just numbers that don’t say anything about your ROI.

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Nicole Mahaffey

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