The social media cage match of the century
Metrics vs. Engagement – which is better?

Paper or plastic? Coke or Pepsi? Mac or PC? Metrics or engagement?

This century’s business battle isn’t a taste preference or the latest gadget, it’s all about measuring your brand in the social media landscape. 

Traditional marketing success focuses on calculating conversions⎯who saw what and how much did he buy. Enter social media and the attempt to apply traditional principles to a non-traditional medium. As social media professionals we wail and flail (professionally, of course) each time our manager asks why the number of Facebook followers is stagnant for the third month in a row. Do we have the right to wail & flail when management tries to measure social media like other marketing programs? 

Let’s take to the cage to discover which reigns supreme⎯metrics or engagement⎯in the all-out battle for glory.

In this corner…weighing in at 8,000 page likes, 53 retweets, and 15 shares…is METRICS!

No matter what business you’re in, the people in charge go ga-ga for metrics. It’s what they know and what they expect from you. In a social world it’s tough to swallow because metrics don’t tell the whole story. Metrics do have their place and can reveal telling information about your brand and customers; you just need to learn how to manipulate them.

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Track valuable metrics
Non-social media types get caught up in likes, followers, and retweets. Start a different conversation about social media measurement with valuable metrics. These types of metrics tell a story about your customers and how they interact with your brand. And guess what? They are measureable with numbers!

1. Track hashtags – Start a conversation and track the number of times the hashtag is used. Pair that with relevant tweets that reveal good marketing information about your brand.

2. Discover demographics of people who like you – Facebook has an amazing insights page. I especially love the demographics stats; you can see the percentage of men and women, their age groups, and locations. For example, if you’re tailoring your posts to women, but you have a mostly male audience, you have a reason to change your marketing approach. Notice an uptick of customers posting from Kansas City? Maybe your company needs to explore opening a location there.

3. Manage content better – What kind of information do your customers and followers like the best? Do you get more clicks on Pinterest when you post “Number of Things” articles? Are there more shares when you post a letter from the CEO? Insights and analytics can tell you what types of content engage your followers the most. Measure to adapt your social strategy to your customers’ likes.

4. Learn when your followers are online – Your customer’s pin boards and newsfeeds fill up fast and are constantly updating during peak times. Define your peak times by checking insights. Instead of rushing to update at 7:00 a.m., maybe your customers are night owls. Adjust your postings to ensure more visibility. And get 30 minutes more rest in the morning.

The numbers are great for spreadsheets and presentations, but what makes these metrics most valuable is that they help you plan your social media strategy and tactics.

In this corner…weighing in with a comment from Sally that she shared on her timeline, a retweet with comment from @grillgirlx, and Pinterest comments from eight people…is ENGAGEMENT!

I’ve met so many social media managers who were former marketing spreadsheet zombies. They chose the social path to be in the trenches, gathering intel about customers, not from a pie chart, but from real-life conversations with the people who matter most to the bottom line. So of course engagement wins, right?

Track engagement like metrics
Engagement is the other half of the social story. Without the comments, shares, and feedback we would be lost in a sea of timelines, scrabbling for purchase among the ragged rocks of unloved pin boards. The endgame in this social business is engagement but you need metrics to tell you how to do it. 

Before you cry ‘heretic’ and revoke my social media license, hear me out. You can turn comments into metrics and measure engagement right along with stuff like hashtags and demographics. Doing this not only makes your boss happy, it makes your job easier too.

1. Gather customer information - You’ve been gathering and relaying customer comments since the day they gave you admin rights but have you been doing it the correct way? Start building columns with types of comments. For example, your posts about a new product get negative responses but posts about stores receive more engagement. Track that information and relay it back to your marketing.

2. Track customer service issues – We’re usually the first contact a customer makes when they have an issue with the brand. Start tracking not only the types of issues, but the time of day they come in. Are you getting more comments after hours? Maybe the customer call center or online chat service needs to extend their hours to resolve issues quickly and efficiently (and not for everyone to see on your page!).

3. Understand your followers – Do you have like or companion businesses that follow you? Take note of those follows and their specific engagement. There could be some cross-over marketing opportunities to explore.

4. Prove them right or wrong – As much as we like to control the content, there are others who shape the brand’s social media presence. If your manager is requesting to share specific content, track and measure it’s success. It could be a learning moment for you or an “I told you so” moment for your manager (in a nice, professional way, of course).

There are dozens of other ways to take comments and engagement and turn it into facts and numbers. It’s your job as the social media manager to extrapolate all the data from your customers into meaningful information that the brand can use to improve the bottom line.

And the winners are…metrics AND engagement!

Sorry former spreadsheet zombies, to quote a great duo of the 80s, “it takes two to make a thing go right.” You need measure both metrics and engagement to create a holistic program that works for your brand. But you can make your life a little easier by turning engagement into metrics. Now maybe your manager will stop asking about the number of followers today. Maybe.

About Socialty:

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Socialty is a full-service social media marketing and social recruiting agency in Chicago.  We create content, websites, blog posts, email marketing and strategic marketing plans for small and medium size businesses. Our social recruiting team helps you attract talented candidates via social media outlets.  Socialty connects you to your audience and potential employees.  We'll keep you social while you carry on with your business.  Keep Social and Carry On!