Social media marketing budgets are projected to double over the next five years. With the additional investment, there’s increased pressure on B2B marketers to deliver impressive results. It can be tempting for marketers to present follower growth rates and net new likes as wins. But if you are a B2B marketer, vanity metrics are not the results you should be focusing on.
Vanity metrics are the number of followers, likes, retweets, page views or impressions you generate on your social media pages. Impressions are ego-boosters and followers may even impress your CEO, but what are they doing for your business? In our opinion, not much.
As we touched upon in a recent blog, vanity metrics are passé for the modern B2B marketer. You need to focus on leads and engagement levels to better understand customers and prospects. Only then can you deliver targeted content that resonates with your audience.
The Vanity Metrics Insanity
Let’s get real here. Vanity metrics can be intoxicating. They have the ability to make you feel like a superhero, especially when you’re just starting out in the social media space. Watching your “likes”, followers and +1s increase every day from the comfort of your office can be a gratifying feeling.
Take Facebook, for example. Facebook accounts for 21 percent of all social media referral traffic to websites, so it’s definitely on your radar. Let’s say your company page has 7,000 “likes”. You inspired thousands of people to click “like”, most likely through a combination of advertising and marketing. You can easily manipulate this social media fluff to make your efforts look effective, but there’s no substance. Celebrating Facebook page “likes” is like sending your kids off to school with a fluff sandwich on white bread.
The important engagement metrics— the peanut butter in the proverbial sandwich— are found on your company Facebook page. When you post, how many people “like” it? How many of your fans are commenting? What are they saying? And are they sharing it? These engagement metrics give you a glimpse into the minds of your “likes” so you can start courting them.
You build a relationships on Facebook and other social media sites through active listening. If you take a closer look at your page, you will gain the knowledge needed to craft more compelling content and improve your conversion rate (conversion rate equals the number of comments or replies per post). If you’re an administrator of your company Facebook page, you should study Insights for post reach, engagement levels and more (Twitter also has an informative analytics tool and LinkedIn offers an analytics tab).
What Really Matters
Ask yourself: What do your followers tell you about your business or the effectiveness of your social media strategy? Do you know which actions you took to attract those followers, and which actions you should take to get them engaged? Analyzing per-customer metrics truly informs decision-making; glossing over group vanity metrics doesn’t give you real insight into what’s working.
Only 21% of B2B marketers are successful at tracking ROI. Some let it slide due to a false sense of security that social doesn’t cost as much as traditional marketing channels. While this is true — each social customer interaction costs $1.00 compared to $6.00 per customer phone interaction — it is still a huge investment of time, and your time is valuable. To up your social media savvy and deliver real results for your company, you need to make goal-setting and tracking real progress a priority. Here’s how:
1. Determine your KPIs
Every company differs on trackable metrics. For instance, 79% of B2B marketers rate blogs as the most effective tactic for driving their top goal, which is lead generation. Those marketers are tracking retweets and page views, but also need to study conversions to accurately determine success.
Take a hard look at your company to figure out what makes sense to meet or exceed your social media goals. Once you select your key performance indicators (KPIs), such as shares or mentions, social traffic to your website, or conversion rates, you will be in a better position to track and manage meaningful data. If you don’t put the time and effort in to determine the appropriate KPIs from the outset, you will be more susceptible to the lure of vanity metrics because they are too easy to track.
2. Track Regularly…
You may just be responsible for generating quarterly or annual social media reports for your company, but we recommend monitoring on a monthly basis. That way, you can measure and record against your goals often, to better inform your next move. Monitoring increases or decreases each month give you real insight to effect change.
Tracking methods such as website analytics, audience engagement, and conversions actually gauge the effectiveness of your social media strategy. You need to know if you’re attracting the right audience, if you’re converting followers into leads or sales. Drill down into your analytics to track the content, key words and phrases used in combination with a link that have higher click-through rates … and capture all of this invaluable data on a spreadsheet.
Make your social media stats work for your company. Set up your social advertising campaigns with the tracking codes so you can monitor your performance and make the changes needed to take it to the next level. You can even tie your social media management platform with your marketing automation and CRM tools to help you track the entire customer journey from the very first touch point. By paying close attention to the whole social media journey — from initial post to engagement to becoming a client or customer, you can determine the effectiveness of your strategy and resources.
Although vanity metrics do have some use — it makes you feel good to see the amount of followers you have or how many impressions your post is receiving — the best social media marketers invest in the measurement of meaningful metrics. They are the only metrics that will show you if your digital marketing efforts are successful or give you insight to make them successful.
Do you value vanity metrics? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!