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A billboard has value when it stirs up business. Sure, you can get a billboard for cheap and it might be a good deal, but no marketer in his or her right mind would rate a billboard simply on its cost per impression. The same should go for social.

Rating social media success based on anything in the silo of social isn’t helping your business. Stop trying to increase the volume of actions and start focusing on the ‘social’ part of social media. Likes, followers, comments, pin, retweets – none of these mean anything to your business. They are simply measurements within the silo of the medium, just like the CPMs of your billboard. They only tell you a small part of the total worth of the medium.

Stop trying to increase the volume of actions and start focusing on the ‘social’ part of social media.

Health Metrics Only Measure Potential

social_billboardAny metric that measures your social media within the silo of social media is what I call a “health metric.” It’s an important metric, but not the one marketers should be putting all their attention and effort into improving. A health metric simply tells you the absolute potential of your social — and that’s only if you’re using it correctly.

Start with a strong strategy, and realize you are starting from scratch. You don’t start a game of Monopoly with a million dollars and half the board in your hand. You need to play to earn it and become the reigning player. Your strategies will adjust as your social empire grows. Health metrics will tell you how you’re doing, but business metrics will tell you how well you’re doing it.

Health metrics will tell you how you’re doing, but business metrics will tell you how well you’re doing it.

Connect Social to Business Metrics

You need to connect social media to a “business metric.” Social is a diverse tool and can be used for more than just marketing. You can literally attach social activities to anything that affects your P&L sheet, but only then can you measure its value. Social can (and should) have long-term goals such as improving lifetime value of a customer, brand awareness, and purchase intent. Of course, if you manage social correctly, build good relationships with your audience members and gather a good volume of them together, you can also track conversions and sales.

There’s a big caveat to this, because simply having volume doesn’t mean you have the right volume. Not having the right volume means your conversion metrics are going to suffer and you’ll only be digging a grave for your social programs. Stop thinking of social as a volumes game. It is a scalable opportunity, but you need to know what opportunity you are scaling.

Just in case there is any confusion, below are a few health and business metrics to get you started.

Health metrics

Post likes, followers, retweets, engagement, engagement rates, reach, comments, shares, pins, repins, impressions, reach.

Business metrics

Click-throughs, conversion rates, customer service tickets served, decreased churn, intent to purchase, brand awareness, lifetime value of a customer, referrals.

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