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Q&A Series: Social Metrics (or is it Analytics)?

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

5MSM_Banner_Purple.pngShakespeare asked us, “What’s in a name?” Fast forward a few centuries and we’re still scratching our heads. Only this time it’s about metrics and analytics.


Anyone responsible lives and breathes numbers, graphs, trends and data. And then more data.


But what are behind the names: metrics and analytics? Are they the same thing? Does it really matter?


This week’s topic: Uncovering the meaning behind social metrics and analytics.


Lithium CMO @KatyK sat down with Lithium Social Web vice president @DaveEv for one last Q&A interview before 2015.


Katy Keim: Do you see a difference between metrics and analytics?

Dave Evans: To be clear, the biggest difference I see is the difference measuring, and not measuring! But let’s assume that measurement is happening, in which “what’s the difference between metrics and analytics?” A couple of definitions are in order: the term “metrics” is defined as “a method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this.” By comparison, analytics is defined as “the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics, or information resulting from the systematic analysis of data or statistics.”


So they are different?

DE: Metrics speaks to method—how we gather data--whereas analytics speaks to practice—how we make meaning from that data. In practical terms, “metrics” describes the data collected (e.g., page views), the method for its collection (e.g., each fully served page counts as one view) and the results of having made that measurement (e.g., last week, we served 2,147,356 page views.) By comparison, analytics provides meaning, for example “Over the past 3 quarters, our page views have steadily increased in-line with the expected outcome given our off-domain-to-community referral program, resulting in a positive ROI based on observed call deflection away from our phone-based support team.”


What are the top-performing brands measuring on social?

DE: While irrelevant may be too strong a word, many brands—top-brands included—are measuring at-best tangential indicators of benefit. The most clichéd is of course “Likes,” with “Followers” being a close second. Note that these metrics do have a quantitative foundation, and they can be useful as indicators of contact with customers. But when you dig in—when you consider that only a very small fraction of those who “Like” your page will ever return and that even fewer will ever mention you at all, or that followers can be bought as easily as earned…then clearly there is a “second look” that needs to be taken.


Lithium research shows only 2 percent of users return to a brand’s Facebook page.

DE: Exactly. They just don’t foster long-term engagement with any value.


Back to the case of social measurement, that “second look” is analytics: beyond simple numbers, what is the meaning? This is where a powerful analytics dashboard can be helpful, where views that transform metrics like “followers” into more meaningful concepts like “influence” and relate that to imputed campaign value as a result of varying observed influence.


So what should brands be measuring?

DE: Well if “measure” means “collecting, organizing and reporting” (metrics), in which case the answer is “everything.” It’s easier to throw away what’s not needed than it is to go back and try and capture what was missed.


Switching gears a bit. Why are marketing and support metrics different? Why do you need different tools to measure them?

DE: Allow a quick digression: marketing and support objectives are the same: to grow market share, to reduce costs, to improve margins, to drive revenue, to enhance loyalty, to innovate…to act in concert with the rest of the organization to achieve the business objectives set for the current and future applicable periods. Now, step back from that view and ask the questions “How does marketing do this?” and “How does Support do this?”


The difference in metrics—number of advertising impressions versus average handle time—arises directly out of the difference in respective metrics in the pursuit of the same objectives.


Which metrics should be shared with the organization to help them understand the role of social care in the company strategy?

DE: Don’t share metrics. Share analytics. Post that above your computer screen!


Wow. I think we’re all guilty of doing the opposite.

DE: Sharing metrics is lot like sharing a French joke with a German audience: even if the translation is reasonable, the context shift will likely result in a flat response.


Metrics—recall the answer to the prior question—have value only in the context of the methods and processes through and around which they were collected. “Average handle time” is surely meaningless outside of support, just as “reach and frequency” must sound like business babble outside of marketing.


Analytics on the other hand—the thoughtful crafting of metrics into meaningful insights—carries value across the organization. “As a result of the impact to net sales of our more robust pipeline combined with the cost savings associated with our reduced call volume and attendant handle time, our operating margins improved by 3 points in the fourth quarter will bring a smile to anyone in the organization.


Thanks Dave. Looking foward to more Q&As in 2015.

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