Measuring Social Media. Does it Really Matter?

I’m no Social Media pundit – there are thousands of them that describe themselves as such.  Just yesterday I was followed on Twitter by someone who had a bio of “Twitter Marketer Extraordinaire”. I have no clue what that means, but I won’t pay for it.  Won’t follow it either.  It seems like rubbish to me.

I have no such illusions or delusions about my ability to use, and find useful, this new tool-set we’ve been given.  Twitter is but a knife in a culinary set though.  It is not a full set of utensils.  We have an ever-growing set of tools and utensils.  And I don’t think the tools matter much – at least not as much as how we decide to use them.  A knife can be used to cut.  Or it can be used to butter a shared loaf of bread.

Yes, the tools change – but the way they are wielded has been unchanged for decades.

So let us ignore individual tools for now, since they are so varied, and they have a different level of usefulness depending on your company and industry.

The bigger question is, “Can Social Media Be Measured?”.  I ask a smaller question – “Should it be measured”?

I’ve effectively used social media in a number of ways.  But that doesn’t make it a replacement for meeting people face to face, or using more traditional methods to target a specific audience.

Social Media is a shotgun approach to meeting and conversing with those that you are interested in; or might be interested in you.  It is, if done well, an invitation – and that should be enough.  For me, and my company, it is enough.

But behind that invitation to a conversation you need real people – people that know your business, and your product – and that are empowered to affect  change.  Otherwise you are talking to a wall.

Social Media has been useful to me, and to the company I work for, because we don’t just listen and respond with useless banter.  We have a team of engineers behind us that actually CAN make change happen.  In fact – our entire Social Media Team IS engineers.  We have also been customers.  WE know what the pain points are – and this was done by design.

When you have that level of understanding of your customers – and what they really need – well, measurement takes on a new meaning.  A less significant one.  We use “social” to be helpful – with people empowered to help.

I am not overly concerned about “measuring” Social Media – as long as we keep it relevant.  If it is relevant to your business – as long as it causes conversations and resolves customer issues – well, I don’t think it needs to be measure more than that – today.  Over time measurement will become more important.

But if you work for a company now that is MOST concerned with measurement – and NOT as concerned with your impact – be afraid.

Focus on just making a difference.  The tools will catch up to us.  If you try to catch up to the tools you will take your eye off the prize – customer engagement.

So I have ONE measurement this year – only one.  How do my social media outreaches affect customers.  How involved are they where I post, with what I care about, and in a context that makes sense to me and my business?

Do they care about what I care about?  DO I care about what they care about?

If they respond in any way, I can measure social media.

If they do not respond, I can also measure social media 🙂

But I am not keeping score beyond, “Are we doing more good than bad”.

I think many are over-thinking this right now.

Are you talking to your customer or not? If you are – you can measure that – just by the number of conversations.  If you are not – don’t waste your time in measuring in.

But don’t focus on the numbers.  Focus on the conversations.  The REAL conversations you have with customers.



  1. Great post! I can see both sides of it. Managers want a way to measure the work being done and measure the success coming from it, but work done in the realm of social media is extremely difficult to quantify.