Are You Making These 5 Social Measurement Mistakes?


In 2010, businesses are getting way more comfortable with social media. They’re losing their fear, they’re engaging more, and they’re genuinely seeking out real relationships with customers. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting any better at tracking or measuring social media. Through my experience working with small business owners, below are the five most common social media measurement mistakes I still see them making.

Which ones are you still committing? It’s okay. This is a safe place.

Not assigning dollar values to social media KPIs

Just because creating a Facebook account is free does not mean that social media is free. There is a cost to everything – from the act of setting up the account, to managing it, to investing time there over somewhere else. You need to know how much social media is costing you. Without that information, you’re not running your campaigns, you’re being run by them and you risk throwing money directly out the window. You should know:

  • How much it costs you to receive a mention vs. the ROI associated with it
  • How much a social media conversions costs you vs. traditional marketing
  • How much it will cost to set up your social media campaigns
  • How much it costs to hire people to run them
  • How long you’ll need to engage before you see payoff

Social media is no different than any other marketing effort you engage in for your company and you need to treat it that way. If you don’t know how much you can spend on social media before it’s no longer profitable, than your engagement becomes a liability. You put a cost on it by determining your goals, tying those goals to behaviors and then figuring out how much it costs for you to attain them.

Not creating social media landing pages

One of the most common mistakes business owners make in social media is that they treat social visitors the same as those who find them via word of mouth or search. Most times you’re doing this at your own detriment. A visitor who finds you through social media is on an entirely different path than someone who found you via a Google search. In order to maximize their experience, you should be creating separate landing pages for social campaigns and interactions.

These social media landing pages should include:

  • A more social and interactive design.
  • Socially-based calls to action. For example, instead of driving someone to click on your Contact button or enter a product silo, you may want them to share a certain piece of content, to subscribe to your RSS feed or make them aware of your other social accounts.
  • Lighten the ads (or remove them completely).
  • Get rid of excess navigation. Chances are someone clicking through your content from a social portal is only interested in that piece of content. They don’t need your full nav.

Providing a targeted social media landing page helps you to address a very different audience base, one that your “traditional” landing page may ignore or even turn off.

Measuring ego, not results

The same way the boss of your local repair shop wanted to rank for “cars” four years ago, now he wants 20,000 Twitter followers and 10,000 Facebook fans. It doesn’t matter that your town only boasts 8,000 people soaking wet. He wants the numbers so he can wear them as a badge of honor and use them as a selling point.

Even if it did make sense to focus all your energy on a single measurement (it doesn’t), picking one that has nothing to do with the actual performance of a campaign makes absolutely no sense. Don’t measure ego; measure behavior, specifically the behaviors that you’ve proven contributed to determined goals – increased participation, subscribers, shares, etc.

Not tracking links

Knowing how obsessed SEOs are with their links, I do tend to find it amusing when site owners completely forget to track links associated with social campaigns. However, amusing as it may be, it’s also a little dangerous. And when I mention links, I’m really talking about two things:

  • Referring URLs: If you don’t know which social sites and communities and driving you the most traffic, you need to dip into your analytics and find out. Knowing this helps you see the full picture of the groups talking about you and engaging in your content. Once you know the online hubs who respond to what you’re doing, the more you can target specific content for those outlets to help you increase traffic for future campaigns.
  • Incoming/ Passed Links: It goes without saying that you should be tracking backlinks back into your site, regardless of how you’re obtaining them. Just because someone shortens your URL to pass it along in social media, doesn’t mean that URL becomes untrackable. There are plenty of services like BackTweets that track links regardless of how it was shared to prevent you from getting fragmented results. You can also create your own branded URL shortener to encourage people NOT to use a shortened URL so you can get the data from your own analytics or through more traditional link tools like Yahoo Site Explorer.

Ignoring the search factor

One thing I love about social media is that it reminded us that search is about people, not search engines. It’s the people you’re trying to reach and attract with your content. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least be mindful of the search engines when you’re creating your social media campaigns. Social media content is designed to be linked to and shared, which makes it incredibly powerful once it hits the land of search. And by at least being aware of the keywords you’re using, it can help you earn rankings for competitive terms. It is the people who will be responsible for pushing your content through the various social media channels, but the engines are going to follow whatever path you put in motion.

Also be aware of what people are searching for ON Twitter. Danny Sullivan wrote a great post today about the “anyone know” search and how more and more Twitter is being used an alternative search engine. That gives marketers something else to think about and a new way to shape content.

Those are the five common ways I see business owners shooting themselves in the foot when trying to measure social media. Can you add to the list or are you brave enough to own up to something that keeps getting you? We won’t tell.

Your Comments

  • Daniel Redman

    I smell something in this post. Very good, BTW. I hope I will be present enough to use many of your tips, but I smell something that you can either confirm or deny.

    True or false, the modern successful SEO’er will have no distinction between a SMM’er?

    The current social ‘EXPERT’ is primarily a self learned facebook type that found a low barrier of entry in getting in to the bottom floor of a major marketing shift. When the SEO’s come marching in to Social media, their may be an intellectual and strategic shift in how such a strategy is developed and executed. It will be a forced integration of SERP and TWIRP.

    • Lisa Barone

      I think modern SEO is marketing and that social media is definitely a very large part of that. There was a conversation in the blogosphere not too long ago about whether social was a new requirement of SEO, and I think that it is. It all fits under the larger umbrella of marketing. I think there will still be some distinction, but you’re going to have to possess both skill sets.

      The current social ‘EXPERT’ is primarily a self learned facebook type that found a low barrier of entry in getting in to the bottom floor of a major marketing shift

      Maybe the saddest thing I’ve read today. But also true. :)

  • Joe

    Very insightful post. I agree that this measuring aspects are overlooked quite often when it comes to social media. Won’t it matter what kind of social media campaign a business is running though? I mean, sure if I am running a “save %50” promo only through social media, than I am going to want to make sure that this is being measured. However, what if I am solely on social media to help build awareness? I am not directly looking for conversions from social media, but just want more people to know about my business. I post a couple times a day, respond to any mentions, but I am not looking for all of my followers/fans to become costumers.

    Is it worth measuring then? And if I am only using social media for the purpose in raising awareness, do I have to spend several hours a day doing so?

    • Lisa Barone

      When you (or anyone) sends out direct mailings to build awareness and top of mind, you measure that, don’t you? I’d hope you are. Just because you may not be in social media for customers, doesn’t mean you’re not looking for some kind of conversion. I think it is worth measuring, if only so you can make sure that you ARE building awareness with your presence. Knowing that will help you make future decisions and figure out what does or does not work.

  • Mark Evans


    I think you could also add not monitoring social media activity or, at the very least, listening to the conversations happening on social media. Whether it’s using free or paid tools, companies should be getting a handle on what’s being said about their brands and products so they can determine where to get involved, who’s leading these conversations and where they’re are happening.

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.

  • Sully

    Lisa – Awesome post, as expected.

    Daniel has a sad, but true, point that there are THOUSANDS of Social Media “Experts/Gurus/Ninjas” out there, when they are nothing more than power users. I commute 50+ miles every day, but that doesn’t make me a race car driver.

    IMO, Google’s recent trend towards personalization is starting to blur the line between SEO & SMO (Social Media Optimization). I feel that if an SEO’s only service is to “get you to the 1st page of Google”, a business should run the other way. A good SEO will help a business not only get the traffic, but also offer ways to prove the ROI of that traffic (e.g. conversions, time on site, reduced bounce rate, etc.)


  • Jacob Stoops

    I think another potential factor (especially companies who outsource their social media management efforts) is the cost to have someone managing their social media campaigns. This cost could outweigh the benefit if the campaign is not managed correctly.

  • Jeremiah Andrick


    Great post as always. I am obsessed with focusing on outcomes and measuring for them. Too many people think that if they do some “social media” they will magically get customers. I don’t believe that our job is to make the inevitable happen. I really liked the following paragraph:

    “Social media is no different than any other marketing effort you engage in for your company and you need to treat it that way. If you don’t know how much you can spend on social media before it’s no longer profitable, than your engagement becomes a liability. You put a cost on it by determining your goals, tying those goals to behaviors and then figuring out how much it costs for you to attain them.”

    The reality is, that at a lot of companies, they run social the way they run other marketing activities without goals and without anyway to measure the outcome. We have to get over the idea that it is fashionable to spend a buck to make a buck. This behavior is popular among those that don’t understand that when they are put in charge or any marketing activities they are given the company checkbook and have to act like it is their own. I know I wouldn’t trow away my money why should I do that for the business.

    My two cents. Keep up the good work.

  • Michael Dorausch

    Note to self: Increase number of social media landing pages.

  • David Bradley

    Hey…I recognise that banana skin…it’s about to cause a slip up on the back cover of “The Invisible Gorilla”…did they or you simply use clipart?

  • heather buckley

    I agree, one of the most common misconceptions is that it is free. It just takes up so much time and time is money. And if you want to do it properly and don’t have the time then you need to pay someone else to do it for you! Here is me talking about just that:
    on our Social Media Training course

  • Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire

    Great use of a classic headline. I think that social media is still really scattered in its purpose just yet. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to the point that they forget they are talking to groups of their own peers instead of buying customers. It can suck up a HUGE amount of time for zero results if you don’t use it right.

    The person that figures out the best way to qualify customers useing social media, while still maintaining that social aspect, is going to be the one that wins all the marbles.

    You’ve got some great ideas here.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  • Lisa Keller

    Hey Lisa–

    This is a great post. Specifically listing the time and money it will take to set-up and manage a social media plan is critical. This is the only way you can see if the results you are measuring are worth it.

    And good point about the SM Landing Pages. Do you have examples of SM LPs that you think are particularly effective?

    Lisa Keller

  • TrafficColeman

    Howdy Lisa
    Boy you touched on many topics here, but I just want to stick with the tracking of links. This is like a big seo method of mines that should be one of the main items people should try to improve and build up your traffic.

    If you don’t know where your traffic is coming, then your not going to know where your going.

    TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  • Paul Baranda

    Great insight as always Lisa. I certainly agree that a social media landing page is important. The social media visitors have a different behavior of how they find informationan how they use the web. A more interactive page will continue to engage them through a social experience rather than a landing page with a quick call to action as in PPC. I think we all have been the search user, social user, etc. It’s important to think of what would make your own experience more helpful, easy, or engaging.
    Also I agree that there are more and more social “experts” but as social media gets recognized as more involved in a total SEO effort, the strategy for social media will be more comprehensive as partnered with SEO.