Social media metrics: 4 that matter, 3 that distract

Don’t dwell on how much traffic your blog gets or how many followers you have. These are among the metrics you shouldn’t waste time measuring.

If you have any interest in social media metrics, you have to read this post.

Over at {grow}, Srininvas Rao wrote a post about the three most dangerous social media metrics and the four that really matter. Because his advice is so excellent, I want to share it with you.

First, the three most dangerous metrics:

1. Traffic: You don’t just want visitors, you want the right visitors.

At The Measurement Standard, we had a StumbleUpon experience similar to the one Rao relates in his article. StumbleUpon picked up one of our interesting but somewhat off-topic articles and brought us tremendous traffic, but few visitors read anything else. That traffic was, and continues to be, a pain because it skews our statistics.

2. Tweets, likes, fans and followers: Do you want to be popular, or do you want to do business? They’re often not the same.

3. Comments: It’s tempting to think commenters are a focus group of your readers, but those who comment only represent a fraction of your readers. Most commenters leave comments because of something other than what the majority of your readers are interested in.

Second, the metrics you should measure:

1. Subscribers: Rao says you make the most money from your email list, so you should cater to the people on the list. I agree, but I wonder if email lists represent the same people who visit your blog.

Sometimes I feel we have two separate audiences: Email subscribers who only respond to emails, and people who browse blogs and use social media links to find us.

2. Conversion rates: Use a custom landing page when you write guest posts so you know what your results are.

3. Open rates: Rao says, “It’s nice to have a list, but if nobody is opening your emails then it doesn’t matter.”

Yes, but I think some people like to get email newsletters, even if they only read them occasionally. Is that bad thing? I think there is value in putting the subject line and preview in front of these people.

4. Revenue: If you blog and or spend time on social media to make money, then money is the only metric that matters.

Bill Paarlberg is editor of The Measurement Standard blog and newsletter, and Katie Paine’s book “Measure What Matters.” A version of this article originally ran on The Measurement Standard.

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