“This new report says our social brand health and Facebook IQ are at a two out of ten. We need to do something - now!” This is obviously an exaggeration. But doesn’t it sound a little familiar? Americans spend as much time online as they do watching TV, and 23% of that time is on social networks, according to Forrester and Nielsen. Brands feel an urgency to capitalize on this behavior and the copious amounts of data generated by it. Many companies view analyzing data about social behavior as a key growth area; as a result, a variety of services, social metrics, and indexes of social business are popping up.
Much of this effort is logically focused on Facebook. After all, nearly one out of every eight minutes spent online is on the social network. Much of the work done by companies like 8th Bridge, Syncapse and L2 is admirable. However, many of these reports miss some of the basic insights that go beyond the vague number-chasing game Facebook can turn into for brands.
Getting the most out of your metrics is an ongoing and complex process, but these three actionable insights are a great start:
1. Measure relative success.
Many indexes measure every brand according to the same scale, implicitly encouraging digital sameness rather than digital differentiation.
A smarter approach: Be selective about which competitors to measure against. Use available data to help change the game entirely in order to achieve or maintain a competitive advantage.
2. Pay attention to strategic goals.
Most metrics are produced by external agencies and measure across an entire industry in an effort to be all encompassing, and therefore aren’t tied to strategic goals. Numbers tell us little unless we know what we're measuring against.
A smarter approach: Articulate what you are trying to achieve. This is the only thing that should inform how you measure your success and what you need to change in order to meet your goals.
3. Consider change over time.
Without looking at the way performance shifts with time, indexes are only a “here and now” measure that fall flat when attempting to answer how brand activities relate to customer behaviors.
A smarter approach: Examine how your activities map over time to rising or dropping numbers. Create benchmarks defining good performance for your particular business, and measure against those benchmarks to discern actionable insights. This will indicate clearly which parameters should be tweaked in order to shape performance to meet or exceed tailored benchmarks.
While broad and general insights are a base level for general conversation and comparison across multiple verticals, focusing your metrics plan on actionable insights can truly help shape performance. In short, brands should stop chasing numbers and stop worrying too much about indexes of the general industry “intelligence” or “capabilities.” Instead, brands should start getting smart about which numbers they’re looking at and what those numbers mean to their particular business.