Communication Metrics Are Changing – And So Should Our Strategies

Do you get the feeling during your own use of social media that there are just too many pages? Too many platforms? Too many updates? It’s not just you. Every day, 500,000 new tweets are posted and, overall, somewhere around 1.145 trillion MB of data is created. This “drinking from a firehose” feeling has started to change the way internet users respond.

As a leader in a company that might maintain business-related pages, if you’re asking your social media managers to continue mining for the old forms of organic (not paid-for) engagement such as likes, reactions, public shares or comments, be prepared to change your metrics.

Changing users, changing use

Looking ahead, we expect this type of engagement to decrease. Instagram, one of the most active social media giants, has already removed the number of post likes from its public metrics.

On Facebook, we still see polarized posts generate plenty of conversation – and then they tend to fizzle quickly, replaced by the next hot topic. The Facebook Files and ongoing whistleblower hearings will doubtless also have a long-term effect on use and engagement on the platform.

Meanwhile, Gen Z (those born in 1997 and after) tends to lean toward platforms like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram. Younger users aren’t interacting with public posts to the same degree and are instead gravitating toward private or 1-on-1 communication and engagement.

While likes, shares and other reportable forms of feedback have in many ways set the standard for our social media engagement expectations, these recent changes in usage should prompt businesses to refocus their efforts toward providing high-powered value and fostering individual relationships rather than trying to harvest thousands of “thumbs up.”

A new way of measuring social media (and influence)

Think about it: What does it take for an idea to stick in your mind, to become memorable? How do you decide what to pay attention to? What kinds of information do you end up talking about with someone else? What changes your perspective on an issue, or your purchasing decisions?

These are the questions that should drive our content now – and how will we measure whether they’re working?

  • Track overall shifts in buying behavior and quantitative and qualitative metrics such as customer insights. Do surveys and ask for feedback – intimately. Is there a spike in Google searches, website visits or purchases after a certain type of message or outreach? This analysis should be segmented – not just when customers are reacting, but which groups of customers react to which types of content.
  • Track clicks – as deep, as many layers, as you can. The more a particular user interacts with your message, the more likely they are to become a loyal buyer.
  • Join your audiences’ communities and take note of what they talk about there. What do they say about your company when they think you’re not listening? What, and who, influences their perspectives?
  • Empower your employees to be company ambassadors and metrics-gatherers. Create opportunities for 1-1 conversations between your organization and its audiences. Customer service will own the day! Listen to what your customers are talking about, and what brought them to you. Consumers are more likely to talk about a brand if they have a great customer service experience.

ROI is personal

These new metrics are heavy on quality – they’re about measuring meaningful interactions and experiences, while also counting the volume of those interactions (like tracking purchases, referrals, number of customers and revenue). If your organization has the resources and can leverage big data to ‘personalize’ en masse, go for it – but at the end of the day, what makes something ‘sticky’ is the personal touch, so keep it as human, as experiential, as possible.

At the same time, keep posting on social media. Keep writing blogs and articles. Keep your website active. Do podcasts (and be a guest on other podcasts). Send email newsletters. Tell stories everywhere you can! All of this amplifies word of mouth (and SEO) – each touchpoint is an opportunity to get someone talking.

Another reason to try new ways of measuring success? Read our post about the dangers of doing things the way we’ve always done them, and why it’s the kiss of death for growth.

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