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Social Media Metrics: Only 2 of Them Really Matter

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Social media
© 2017 Scott Bateman

Only two social media metrics matter for any small business, and they have nothing to do with the social media accounts themselves.

The two metrics are the ones that impact the actual business. They are indirectly related to the four other metrics that get everyone excited, which are likes, follows, comments and shares.

In most cases, the benefit comes from how the social media accounts impact the business website. The two metrics with impact are customers and revenue.

Customer Impact

Likes, follows, comments and shares have zero customer value for the business if the visitors to the social media account do nothing other than those four activities.

They only matter if the activity results in four other activities. They are:

  1. Clicks from the account over to the website
  2. Emails the business from the account
  3. Calls to the business using a phone number on the account
  4. Visits in person using the address on the account

Because of the four activities above, a typical brick-and-mortar small business should make sure that all four have a prominent presence on the account. (Virtual businesses need only the first three.)

All of this means the social media account is a lead generator for new customers or a means of getting a repeat contact from previous customers. The account is nothing more and nothing less.

Even then, the customer impact on the business has a limit. The real value is what happens next.

Revenue Impact

Any successful small business cares about the quality of leads and not just the quantity.

A social media account may be successful with quantity if it produces 100 leads a month in the form of site visits, phone calls, emails or in-store visits. But it’s a failure if none of the 100 results in a sale.

For example, a local business launches an advertising campaign on Facebook that targets everyone from ages 18 to 64 in an entire county. The campaign will cost a lot of money and produce a lot of visits at least to the advertiser’s Facebook page, but the quality of the leads is likely to be low.

SEO Impact

Some people argue in favor of a third direct and measurable impact on the business by a strong social media account: search engine optimization.

A business may have a robust website because it spends time and money on SEO. Many articles about search engine optimization claim that social media accounts are an important ranking factor in search engine optimization, which then drives more potential customers to the website.

That’s not quite the case.

Matt Cutts, formerly of Google’s Webspam team, said that social accounts such as Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in the Google index.

“If something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results. But as far as doing special specific work to sort of say ‘Oh you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook,’ to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that,” he said

John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, said that social media signals do not have a direct impact on organic rankings in Google.

“To a large part social networks also have a nofollow on the links that they provide when they post this content, so it’s not the case that would give you any kind of a ranking boost there. What you do sometimes see however is that the social posts show up in the search results,” he said.

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