With increasing pressure to prove return on investment, communications professionals have made attempts to assign a value to things such as Facebook "likes" and Twitter followers. But assigning a specific value—especially a monetary one—to fleeting statistics such as these is a misguided approach.
Proper PR measurement starts with an examination of overall goals, and the metrics used to measure success against those goals need to be carefully vetted. Only the ones that show real performance should be selected for use. Rarely do "like" and follower counts make the cut.
Meaningless metrics create a host of issues such as wasting time, wasting money and making uniformed decisions based on inaccurate, incomplete or incomprehensible data. Which metrics should PR pros avoid?
Here’s a list of four social media metrics to steer clear of, courtesy of Kent Lewis, president of Anvil Media Inc. and a contributor to PR News' PR Measurement Guidebook, Vol. 7:
- Content volume: There’s no prize for generating more tweets than your competitors, other than a greater likelihood of you annoying people and losing followers. It’s a simple case of quality over quantity.
- Number of “likes,” followers or fans: These are arbitrary numbers and can’t be compared across platforms. The value of each is different for every business.
- Impressions: A one-dimensional metric often associated with YouTube. What if 990 of your 1,000 views come from your mother, a university student in Japan or a robot?
- Klout: While I regularly keep tabs on my personal Klout score, it measures an extremely limited slice of the social universe and can be easily “gamed.”
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