Beware of Meaningless Social Media Numbers

Paull Young

Are your social media strategies advancing beyond your ability to measure their results? If so, you may want to catch Paull Young, director of digital engagement for charity: water, at PR News’ June 21-22 Social Media Summit/Taste of Tech event in New York City. Young will be speaking on the June 22 panel, "How to Measure Your Social Media Activity and Communicate Your PR Successes," at the Sentry Center. In the following Q&A he offers a preview of some of the tips he'll be sharing.

PR News: What are the key metrics to consider when measuring social media?

Paull Young: Always remember that a Facebook fan or a Twitter follower is worth zero dollars—it's what you do with them that count. All too often I see brands focus too much on the big, raw, public numbers that their C-suite can compare to competitors (namely, social media audience numbers), instead of thinking strategically about what behavior matters for their brand and impacts the business in a meaningful sense. At charity: water the main number we watch is dollars raised: direct bottom-line performance and ROI.

PR News: Which tools do you use to measure your social media efforts?

Young: We use Google Analytics to monitor site behavior and have built, and are expanding, internal tools to monitor our financial performance. Ultimately, I pay attention first to dollars we're raising online via our fundraising platform,, and our site, and only occasionally monitor social metrics in isolation.

PR News: What advice can you share with other nonprofits or small businesses about proving social media ROI to senior management?

Young: Start with a clear, measurable goal, and move back from there. Ideally, this goal will link to financial performance directly, or it's not really ROI. This can be hard for some businesses, but the key is to understand what business goals matter to your senior leadership and to move backward from there. Do not start with measuring meaningless social media numbers and then try to add meaning to them.

PR News: What's one key insight you'll share with attendees at the Social Media Summit?

Young: That it really doesn't matter how many Facebook fans or Twitter followers you have.

Attend PR News’ two-day Social Media Summit/Taste of Tech event June 21-22 in New York City and learn more from digital leaders like Paull Young.

Follow Regina D'Alesio: @reginadalesio

One response to “Beware of Meaningless Social Media Numbers

  1. I am super intrigued and would be interested in hearing so much more about which numbers to pay attention to! In PR we’re constantly paying a numbers game and trying to gauge the “intangibles”. It’s great to see Mr. Young break down that the C-Suite is focused on these raw, large numbers (they’re easy to compare) but much more difficult to explain and measure is IMPACT and the results that these numbers yield. Communicating to clients the success of a campaign is something I would consider the most crucial step because even in this day and age some people still don’t value social media and effective public relations; until of course a crisis occurs.

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