Social media success is more than just a number

Happy Pi Day (to the 36th digit)! by Mykl Roventine

Last week Jeremiah Owyang blogged about why the number of fans and followers you have is NOT a business metric – but what you do with them is. The post reminded me of a couple of conversations I’ve recently had with marketing directors of well-known online brands. Whilst they were keen to use social media as part of their marketing mixes, both seemed more focused on the number of fans and likes they could accrue rather than the action they would take with their followings.

Bigger is not always better

A large following, whether that be Facebook likes, Twitter followers or the number of people and companies in your Google+ Circles, is a perfectly legitimate social media marketing metric. Amongst other things, a large following will give you an opportunity to market to those followers as well as help you establish social capital. But I don’t believe this should be your most important social media marketing metric.

It may sound like a cliché, but quality really is more important than quantity when it comes to effective social media marketing. You may grow your following and boast over a million likes on Facebook but so what? Unless you do something with those followers then it just becomes a collection of numbers.

Social media requires a different type of thinking. It involves bringing the audience into the marketing process by including them in conversations and engaging with them. Social media marketing will not be effective if you build up a following only to broadcast messages and advertisements to them. It’s important to proactively target your key social media audiences and give them a compelling reason to connect with you.

It’s not just the size – it’s what you do with it that counts!

A million Facebook likes would be great but what if only a small percentage genuinely liked you and the majority were disengaged and unresponsive to the discourse you’re trying to generate?

Surely it would be better to aim for 20,000 Facebook fans who are interested and enthusiastic about you and forms part of a community that regularly interacts with your content and spreads it organically across their social graphs. Only this way will you begin to see increased traffic and conversions.

As with any aspect of marketing, social media should be intrinsically linked to the overall objectives a business is looking to achieve. This could be creating brand awareness, improving customer service or generating leads and sales. These are the metrics that matter the most.

What are your thoughts on social media marketing metrics? What do you use to measure success? What does good social media look like?