Are we there yet? Diagnostic versus objective social media metrics

One of my favorite discussion points in my social media ROI talk is also probably one of the most overlooked – the understanding of diagnostic versus objective metrics.

Road trip March 2009Imagine for a second you’re on a road trip.

Diagnostic metrics tell you how the trip is going.

Objective metrics tell you when you’re there.

As you can imagine, there aren’t too many objective metrics. You’re either at your destination, or you’re still on the road trip. There are tons of diagnostic metrics, though – mileage, miles traveled, rest areas stopped at, complaints from the back seat – you name it, there’s probably a metric for it.

In social media, we have tons of diagnostic metrics as well – Twitter followers, web site traffic, retweets, Facebook likes, etc.

At the end of the day, however, none of these are objectives. None of these tell you if you’re actually there yet.

Imagine how silly this conversation sounds:

“Dad, are we there yet?”
“18 cheeseburgers and 220 french fries, son!”
“What?”

“Dad, are we THERE yet?”
“So far we’ve managed 21.7 miles per gallon. Isn’t that great?”
“What?”

And so on. This is a silly conversation, yes? So why do we have this conversation:

“Are we succeeding in social media?”
“We’ve got 220 Twitter followers!”

“Yes, but are we succeeding in social media?”
“So far, we’ve managed 121 Likes on our Facebook page. People love us!”

These two conversations are the same. In both cases, we’re repeating back diagnostic metrics when the question is about objective metrics – are we there yet?

In your social media efforts, are you there yet? Do you even know where there is or how you’d know when you got there?

If not, don’t be surprised if your senior management gets just as cranky as the kids in the back seat and keeps asking “Are we there yet?” over and over again.


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