How do you measure the success of Social Media?

A quick Google search for “Key metrics for social media” will bring anything but clarity to this question.  Nearly every person who answers this question has a different answer.  Before we can get to what we should measure we must realize that there are some things that we cannot measure.

Social media is less like asking someone on a date, and more like wooing them.  When did you decide to become friends with your best friend?  You probably don’t remember the exact day or time because it probably occurred over a series of events.  Social media is the same way.  Most people won’t convert or purchase the first time they see a post.  Social media is more like a conversation between your brand and your customer.  It’s different than other forms of marketing or advertising and can’t be measured the same way.  

So how do we measure success?  It all depends on the actual goal.  To be honest, it’s usually not likes or views.  Which is better, 1 million views with no purchases or 100 views with 20 purchases?  If the goal is sales then that’s the only metric that matters.

Is the goal to get an email address?  To see more visits to a website?  To stay top of mind after a purchase?  To promote and sell specific products?  All of these questions must be answered before we can develop metrics for a social media strategy.  There is definitely a place for metrics in social media but we must always be careful to remember the key word is “social”.  Social media is a conversation, it’s an organic interaction between a brand a customer.  Whichever metric best measures that interaction is the one that best determines success.