Social Media: Moving Beyond Vanity Metrics

September 15, 2020By BurrellesAdvertising/Marketing, Burrelles, Communications, Content Marketing, General Information, Marketing, Media Industry, Media Measurement, Media Monitoring, Media Relations, Mobile Media, News Coverage, PRSA, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media, Technology No Comments

In the COVID era, there’s one thing across the board that we are all doing—attending and participating in virtual events—whereas, in the past, we would have attended in person. This blog post includes key takeaways from a recent PRSA St. Louis (and other Midwest PRSA chapters) professional development webinar.

My friend and PRSA colleague, Aurora Meyer, APR, led a broad look at how to leverage social media and move beyond simple quantitative metrics (vanity metrics) to those that truly support real business goals—including actionable tips.

She began with the most basic, but often glossed over, fact that most of us have not always done things the “right way” and that’s okay. It’s an opportunity to learn, and through learning, we begin to understand how to do things better.

Current trends in social media include:

  • Who: audience segmentation
  • What and when: quality over quantity
  • Where: cross-channel strategy
  • How: transparency and authenticity
  • Format: video and imagery

Social algorithms are increasingly prioritizing conversation and long-term community building over one-way conversations, so quality and authenticity are essential. This means that if you want more people to see your content, you have to engage more people to take action. Aurora cited the 80/20 rule (or 1:10 rule), where one out of every 10 posts should include a direct call to action (CTA).

According to a recent Cisco report, by 2023 there will be 49 billion devices connected to the internet. Cisco predicts within the next year, video will account for 80% of all web traffic. Aurora pointed out that most of those people have an intolerance for any content that’s not easy, fast and authentic—so don’t do video just to be trendy. All content should have a purpose that meets your goals and objectives.

Qualitative over Quantitative

The crucial focal point when moving beyond vanity metrics is that all of your content—both organic and paid—must support the overall business goals through key performance indicators (KPIs). These might be more customers, increased donations, more members, white paper downloads, or lead generation. For example, let’s say your goal is to get more customers. In order to do this, you need more eyeballs on your content, so the KPI in this case would be audience growth.

She emphasized the need to keep your focus on your social media marketing funnel and how you’re pushing your audience down the funnel with your KPIs in mind.

Aurora went on to talk about how to evaluate and test which platforms you should be on—based on where your audience is and when they are there. She also talked about individual social platforms and what part of the funnel each lends themselves to best.

She also talked in detail about cross-platform campaigns–the importance of testing, tracking and measurement. And, a reminder that the content can be the same on multiple platforms as long as each post is re-formatted to follow the norms for that platform.

Key reminders:

  • Keep your goals and audience in mind at all times
  • Establish clear KPIs from the outset, and refer back to them with every decision
  • Map out your communications/sales funnel for every audience
  • Don’t feel like you need to be on every platform
  • Test – and don’t be afraid to pivot

Getting leadership buy-in

As we approached the conclusion, Aurora answered the age-old question in any type of measurement—how to get leaders to care about the right things and weaning them off vanity metrics. She readily admitted that part is especially difficult (and a bit scary) because likes and comments make everyone feel good. However, it all comes back to the KPIs. Vanity metrics alone don’t indicate whether you’re moving the business goals forward or not. Explain to leadership how this will help the business—whether those goals are loyalty, advocacy, or sales. Or, as Aurora likes to say, how it will get your audience “to do things you want them to do.”

This post barely touches the surface of the overall presentation. If you’re planning to (virtually) attend PRSA International Conference (#PRSAICON) in October, Aurora will be presenting an even more comprehensive version of this presentation.

Good social media listening tools provide insights such as brand awareness (growth of mentions and reach), your market share of voice (SOV), sentiment analysis, as well as help you prioritize impactful conversations and identify top influencers. Get more information or a free demonstration of our software.

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