Why Should I Care About These 3 Social Media Metrics?
In a related post, our Community Manager, Jade, wrote about the 3 Crucial Community Manager Metrics she reports on a weekly basis. She mentioned the visits, engagement and audience growth rate as the most important metrics I’d like to see on an ongoing basis. I would like to explain why.
Why I care about these 3 social media metrics
Audience Growth Rate
I’d like to start with this one rather than the visits and engagement since I think this metric tends to be overlooked when the conversation about social media focuses on ROI and business results (hint: visits, engagement, purchases, etc.).
I would also like to borrow two business/economic terms that are important to understand when it comes to explaining the mechanisms of social media and why audience growth is so important: Virtuous Cycle and the Flywheel Effect.
From BusinessDictionary.com: “A self-propagating advantageous situation in which a successful solution leads to more of a desired result or another success which generates still more desired results or successes in a chain. For example, compound interest earned on a deposit keeps on generating ever greater amounts of interest. Also called virtuous cycle. See also vicious circle.”
Audience growth on social media follows the concepts of the Virtuous Cycle. With every new follower you gain, you get access to more potential followers. In addition, as the number of followers you have grows, the perception of your brand in that social network becomes more positive. As that perception becomes more positive, more people follow you. But how do you start that virtuous cycle? How do you get enough followers that will be enough to feed the cycle? This is where the Flywheel Effect concept comes into play.
The Flywheel Effect
The Flywheel Effect is commonly associated with Jim Collins’ book “From Good to Great” where he explains the concept: “…picture a huge, heavy flywheel. It’s a massive, metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle. It’s about 100 feet in diameter, 10 feet thick, and it weighs about 25 tons. That flywheel is your company. Your job is to get that flywheel to move as fast as possible, because momentum—mass times velocity—is what will generate superior economic results over time.
Right now, the flywheel is at a standstill. To get it moving, you make a tremendous effort. You push with all your might, and finally you get the flywheel to inch forward. After two or three days of sustained effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster. It takes a lot of work, but at last the flywheel makes a second rotation. You keep pushing steadily. It makes three turns, four turns, five, six. With each turn, it moves faster, and then—at some point, you can’t say exactly when—you break through. The momentum of the heavy wheel kicks in your favor. It spins faster and faster, with its own weight propelling it. You aren’t pushing any harder, but the flywheel is accelerating, its momentum building, its speed increasing.
This is the Flywheel Effect. It’s what it feels like when you’re inside a company that makes the transition from good to great.”
As Collins describes, getting that momentum requires a tremendous amount of effort in the beginning. But, this is crucial in order to achieve that momentum that will make almost anything you later throw into that mix instantly popular. Audience growth tells me whether or not we’re heading in the right direction, whether or not we’re building our own virtuous cycle so we can self-sustain and grow our momentum.
Since we’re a B2B company (we sell to other companies and not directly to consumers), as well as a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, our distribution channel is the internet and, as such, visits to our website are extremely important. We also measure conversion rates, leads, opportunities and revenue, but since Jade has less control over those elements in the funnel, what I want to see from her on a regular basis is how much traffic she drove to our website from her social media activities and campaigns.
As a KPI (Key Performance Indicator), visits from social give me a good indication on how we’re going to do in sales this month. Since we’re selling a social media analytics solution, our target audience, our buyers, are also on social media which makes visits from social much more important to me to gauge on the performance of our campaigns.
What is engagement? Beyond just the technical definition, engagement is a metric that tells you how well your content (posts, Tweets, stories, etc.) performs with your network. It’s the equivalent of pageviews, time on site and bounce rates in the web analytics world, and can answer questions like, “Am I getting the right responses from my audience?” or “Does my message resonate with my audience?” and “Do people like my content?” etc.
I like engagement as a key metric because it informs me about what is working with my audience. Also, since it has a direct tie into my social virtuous cycle, as I increase engagement, I will see it compounded and can expect more tangible results from my social media campaigns.
My Social Snapshot
My favorite report in Simply Measured is the Social Media Snapshot report that gives me…well, a snapshot of my entire social media status including 2 of my top 3 metrics – audience growth and engagement across all my social media.
VP of Marketing at Simply Measured and the designated punching bag for the marketing team. I believe in marketing through data, but love the creative elements of marketing. I write about strategy, decision making, the future of marketing and how social media is reshaping marketing. I'm on Twitter and LinkedIn.