Lots of data, little time – what social media metrics really matter

Tabatha Laverty    March 1, 2015

Organization Name: AMD

Industry: Technology

Web References: VWO, AMD, Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, KISSMetrics, Kentico, Jay Baer

Facebook Insights offers 60 predefined data points for measuring activity on your page, Google Analytics has over 200 data points. And that is just the beginning. Every social media platform has dozens, if not hundreds of different reporting metrics to help you measure and analyze the performance of you social media strategy.


That’s a lot of data! But let’s be realistic, most organizations do not have full time social media analysts. Who has time to go over all that information and interpret it into actionable items to improve business performance? What is a busy marketing and communications manager suppose to do with all that information and not very much time.?

Well, first, it important to determine what metrics are actually important for your organization’s goals and what metrics are just cool stats to throw at your CEO.

Lars Lofgren of KISSmetrics explains this very clearly in his blog “Metrics, Metrics On The Wall, Who’s The Vainest Of Them All?” He says, “It all comes down to one thing: does the metric help you make decisions? When you see the metric, do you know what you need to do? If you don’t, you’re probably looking at a vanity metric.” This is important as it sets a simple ground rule for deciding what metrics to monitor and which ones to set at a lower priority or ignore altogether.

It’s generally good to start with metrics that focus on the behaviour of your followers.  You have 2,000 Facebook fans, and that is great, but how many people are talking to you and about you on Facebook and what are they saying? These types of metrics can help you determine what tactics are working and which ones are falling flat. Also important to note is that the native (prebuilt) analytics on most platforms probably won’t give you the full picture. You will likely have to customize your data reporting to truly understand what trends exist.

One of my favourite social media experts, Jay Baer explains the necessity of customizing and really working hard at pulling out valuable data.


Once you identify your most important metrics, you can use several tactics to start building data sets that you can use to compare information and start making strategic decisions.

Using metrics to make decisions

One of the easiest and most effective ways to use metrics is by implementing multivariate testing into your content or design strategy. This kind of testing is used across many mediums but it is particularly effective in social marketing.

This video from Kentico explains one type of multivariate testing, AB testing, across digital channels.

AMD, a technology company, is a great example of using social media metrics to make decisions that translate into sales. They identified social sharing and conversation as one of their key social media objectives but also realized that the design of their exisitng website did not facilitate social sharing as well as it could. To combat the problem, they designed six variations of their site with different designs and placement of their share and comment interfaces.

 The test ran for 5 days and was run in conjunction with strategies to drive overall traffic. Once the data was analysed, the team found that the social share rate of the test sites was 36x that of the original site.  Based on their data, they were able to determine what design strategies produced the best results. This is what they decided.


Through measuring what layout was most intuitive and engaging for their visitors, AMD was able to achieve their objective for increasing shares and conversation across social media.

Lessons for others

Social metrics can be overwhelming. However, by focusing in on the metrics that really matter to you, they can be an invaluable component of an effective marketing strategy. Here are some tips for picking the right metrics.

  1. Stick with metrics that help you make decisions. When you read a metric, ask yourself, “So what?” If you don’t have a good answer, move on to something else.
  2. Along that line, avoid metrics that sound cool but mean nothing. If you are an online retailer, having 10,000 hits on your website in a month is good but its not so good if none of those people bought anything.
  3. Identify a specific goal and seek out the metric that helps you measure that. Want to increase conversations? Find out how many people are talking about you on social media and what they are saying.
  4. If you can, customize your metrics to provide more detailed data. The standard metrics are a good starting point, but many platforms allow you to customize your metrics to produce clearer more powerful outcomes.

Submitted By: Tabatha Laverty

To contact the author of this entry please email at: tabatha.laverty@gmail.com
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.