Use Real Metrics, Not Social Media Nonsense

Once again, Facebook had some problems with their math. The good news is that according to their own VP of Marketing Science, Brad Smallwood, it doesn’t matter.

If you’re concerned about the number of clicks, likes, emoji reactions, etc. on Facebook (or possibly any social media), you’re worrying about the wrong things. Smallwood’s own research states:

“…spending marketing dollars on fan acquisition did not in any way contribute to increasing sales or profit…”1

I’ve written about the low signal-to-noise world we inhabit and the difficulty in determining the factors that contribute to our purchase decisions. Unsurprisingly, when looking at their own data, the Facebook Marketing Science team came to the same conclusion.

“…the number of factors affecting both the assessment of users’ norms and posts created so much noise that any judgment of campaign success had no more chance of predicting actual business outcomes (regardless of whether those are sales or opinions) than a random guess.”2

Look at the above quote again. If you’re looking at your social media campaign performance with regard to sales in terms of likes/shares/retweets/whatevers, you’re better off flipping a coin.

Why not focus on real metrics? Look at sales, retention rates, and ARPU. Don’t waste your time with the little kids’ metrics, which make for easier-to-understand and flashier charts at the next convention you attend. Don’t track them in your data warehouse. Don’t put them in Powerpoint slides. Don’t even talk about them. After all, the people that promulgate this nonsense have told you that they are worthless.

Worry about the things that actually generate profit. And win.

P.S. I encourage you to read the original source material for yourself. It’s available here for $20. (Trust me, your CFO will definitely approve this expense.)

1 Smallwood, Brad. “Resisting the Siren Call of Popular Digital Media Measures.” Journal of Advertising Research (2016): 126-131. Print. Page 127.
2 ibid. Page 129.


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