Published on August 7th, 2014 | by Juliane Krause-Akelbein
Panel of Experts: The right selection and application of Indicators
There is another version of this post: German
To give you a balanced and extensive impression on how you can use indicators we asked Community Managers, Blogger, PR Specialists, Digital Strategists and Technology Experts – Social Media Experts across the board – about their opinions: Which indicator(s) are most important to you? What is your favorite KPI?
With this series on KPIs we want to explain the use of indicators comprehensively and in particular show you that comparing yourself to others isn’t always the most important thing. It’s much more important to know which indicators are actually relevant to you. Sometimes this already leads to the first conflicts:
Reach? Leads? Shareability?
Come, stay home! In the end, it’s all about fans. You have to report so someone „up there“ and that person just isn’t involved enough.
Philipp Thurmann, Managing Partner Strategy at buddybrand
Specifically if you work with indicators, you often have censor yourself: Your experience, your knowledge, tells you which indicators should be important, but your client or employer doesn’t see it your way and just wants as many fans as possible.
We tend to be a little more optimistic: In general, with time and dedication, you can bring even the most convinced employer nearer to understanding at least the significance of other indicators. You are the experts that were hired to make things better after all:
Self-made measurements and KPIs are difficult to structure and plan. That’s why assigning experts, that are specifically concerned with it, is sensible. Thorough analyses are often made difficult by the every day business. That means you have to operate on instinct.
Christian Wohlrabe, Manager Online-Communications at ALBA Group
„Operate on instinct“ is good advice for day to day business, since all indicators won’t be of any use if you don’t know what to do with them. You need an instinctive feeling when steering a community:
Always keep an eye on your own figures. If you only optimize on Facebook interaction indicators is at risk of diverging from your own objectives and most notably from the meaningfulness of your own activities. Then you set rules for yourself like „I will post at least twice a day“, „Pretty pictures with funny sayings are more useful than links because I will have more likes“, „I have to ask questions because I don’t have enough comments“ or „I only post at 5:12pm because this info graphic says it’s the best time“.
Combining your own figures with Facebook KPIs in my judgement is the better tactic, and it shouldn’t be a problem to counteract missing interactions with a couple of Euro. Then at least, you know the use of it.
Philipp Roth, Editor in Chief and Founder of allfacebook.de
Therefore, there is no universal approach for the successful social media presence? We will see. The 13 experts that had their say in this piece at least can be roughly sorted into „factions“, but even that only with very blurry transitions: The community focus, the performance & image oriented and the bird’s eye perspective. Which approach is the best for your own channels – you will have to decide that for yourself. But there’s definitely something for everyone.
Putting the community in focus
Maybe not really surprising: Especially Community Managers focus on indicators that help them measure the activity of their community:
My favorite KPI is engagement. When it increases I know that the community likes the content, interacts with it and something new will be formed out of it.
Pamela Unterberger, Community Manager at bbdo
Form something new together – wonderful. Supporting and rewarding the interactions of your community are part of that. A social media presence is after all not a billboard that only imparts something on others, but a place to carry on a dialogue with fans and – not least – customers:
For me, the indicators that show that users interact with your content and actively engage and use your fanpage to talk to the brand and the team are most important on Facebook. That includes the number of comments per week, the shares per week, post clicks per week, the number of tagged posts (fans tag your page in their posts) and the number of posts on a page (fans write on your page). Additionally I think the time until a team answers to a comment or complain is interesting.
This dialogue isn’t all about happy go lucky content, but includes Complaint Management and Customer Service. The customer doesn’t distinguish in between official support channels and the official Facebook- or Twitter-Account.
My favorite KPI is: The quality of the customer relationship, that includes its authenticity and emotionality. The dialogue plays an important role here. Formerly companies wanted to reach the customers. Today, in addition to that, (potential) customers want to reach the company. Ideally the customer values the product, the company and the seller/the entrepreneur. Formerly, that was only true vice versa.
Michael M. Roth, Founder of MicialMedia
This new feedback channel involves dangers, but can mostly be looked at as a chance, to turn clients into fans: Your own brand ambassadors that like to and confidently share your brand’s content.
Brand Communications: Between Image and Performance
Brand Ambassadors are the dream of every Marketing Manager. But especially here you move between the poles of image and performance, community and clicks. Since most know, what their community enjoys, optimizing on performance often is inevitable. For every one, a balancing act between interaction- and performance-indicators begins:
If I should point out some concrete numbers then I’d focus on post reach and the number of interactions per post, especially on how many times something has been shared. Also the tone of the conversation on the page is important, as well as the respectfulness in which people interact with each other.
Annette Schwindt, Founder and Author of Schwindt-PR
The dichotomy of performance and community might not be one after all, for on social media the user decides what performs – and with that forces companies to adjust. The combination of both therefore is the supreme discipline.
Our most important KPI surely are „clicks“ on the link. The engagement becomes more important, I try to slowly increase that. Hence we are always happy about lots of comments and shares. Consequently we always have to keep an eye on post reach and – if necessary – experiment with posting times.
Michael Unterberger, Community & Social Media Manager at motor-talk
The power that springs from the users can’t be ignored any longer, it is a new and important factor in using indicators: How do users talk about the brand? How do you measure an elusive value like the „Image“?
Well, I have an anti KPI, that’s ok, too, right? I think this fixation on the number of fans or fan development is unnecessary. Apart from that I’m interested in sentiment, the brand awareness, most. So: How does positive/negative buzz about a brand develop. It is important that KPIs are derived off and are guided by (company-) objectives. If I want to improve my image, I can deduce it from the development of sentiment. If I need new employees and start an Employer Branding Measure, we’re talking about different KPIs, i.e. how many people (that see my post) click on the link to the application and how many actually apply.
Stefanie Aßmann, Co-Founder of MonitoringMatcher.de
So how do you measure Image? With the aid of Sentiment-Analysis. It makes different terms and behaviors comparable and with it contributes to the advancement of indicators and the interpretation and use of analysis. But sentiment alone doesn’t say much about conversions and performance. A different perspective is starting to emerge: The bird’s eye perspective.
Bird’s eye perspective – it’s in the mix
The blurry transitions that were mentioned at the beginning of this piece all lead to a change in perspective, which is already in full swing the world of social media:
I think concentrating on only one indicator is a big mistake. Good Social Media Monitoring offers an overview of the Key Performance Indicators that are relevant to reach company goals – one indicator alone isn’t enough. It’s always the mix of KPIs that you should keep an eye on. If you, for example, focus too much on the number of Likes and Followers, you’ll overlook qualitative factors and the other way around. In my opinion, the connotation with which people talk about a brand online is just as important as the total reach of all channels.
Katharina Langbehn, Project Manager Online & Social Media at Tagesspiegel
Keep the overview and correctly correlate the different indicators, in combination with a touch for your own fans and followers – the unbeatable recipe? But where to go with the fanpage, followers and subscribers? To answer this you need a strategy, an objective for the Social Media Presence that you want to optimize. Without objectives no quantifiable success.
In principle, objectives in Social Media should always be guided by company objectives. In doing so it is difficult to define one KPI as the most important one, since Branding, Sales and Service are all measured differently. A good direction of impact for Social Media activities of a company in general is surely the combination of buzz volume and sentiment.
Klaus Breyer, Managing Partner Technology at buddybrand
The point of view of the analyzing party is key: What objectives do you have – and what is mutually dependent? Are well working community doesn’t have to be high in numbers – but maybe it generates unbeatable Click Through Rates? Then again, many fans can – correctly handled – generate incredible buzz.
A favorite KPI, that is hard, since I usually use a set of KPIs. From a sales perspective always the CTR, with engagement objectives most likely the ratio between reach (unique) and interactions.
Nico Kirch, Founder and Author of socialmediastatistik.de
The bird’s eye perspective has one big advantage: It makes for a holistic view. The deeper you dig into the mix of indicators, the keener your examination becomes, the better you get to know your fans and the easier optimization will be.
One round trip and back
We started a small trip through the world of indicators and their interpretation and arrive at the end, as after every good round trip, with new insights: There isn’t one right way to apply and use indicators, there are many ways. Some go around a corner and some take a shortcut. They all have the same goal in mind, however: The success of a social media presence.
In the end, the only indicators that really count for the success of a communication strategy are turnover and profit. For that, you need to define accurate strategic objectives in advance. But en route, you can use a number of very different values that show, whether you are on the right way. Number games alone are pointless. You will always need the qualitative assessment of an experienced specialist.
Dr. Kerstin Hoffmann, Communication Consultant, Blogger and Speaker, pr-doktor.de
The human factor shouldn’t be ignored, it affects the path that will be taken – just as in this case. We would like to say a heartfelt „thank you“ to all participants of this small panel of experts for their open and informative insights into their everyday work and opinions and are looking forward to more productive discussions about the wonderful world of Social Media Analysis and -Monitoring.
Our series continues with the best indicators for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – or go back to check out the newest Fanpage Karma Feature.
Article header by Xataka under CC BY 2.0 license.