“How Many” is not a valid KPI

People like stuff. We like to count how much of it we have. It’s even viewed in certain circles as a measure of success. Back in the early days of the web, everyone had a hit counter at the bottom of their homepage. We shamelessly clicked ‘reload’ to make our sites seem more popular.

But we grew up and realized that it’s not enough to count web visitors. We figured out we need to know who these people are and why they shared their time on our web sites.

For today’s social managers, fans, likes, followers, follows, subscribers and Bitly clicks are common measures we like to hang our hats on. We like the good, fuzzy feeling of seeing those Twitter and Facebook counters get bigger and bigger. Hey, I’m as guilty of that as anyone. But what about these numbers makes them good? That we have a perceived large audience? That lots of people are flocking to our stuff? Are they coming back?

What are you doing to engage with, or at least understand, your social audience? Are you encouraging (and answering!) comments on your blog? Are you thanking followers of your Twitter account? Do you allow fans to post to your Facebook wall? Do you encourage interaction? Are you tracking click-throughs to your web site? Are you converting social visitors into leads?

Don’t just count the jelly beans in the jar. Think “Jelly Belly.” Ever toss a handful of beans into your mouth to gag on a strange flavor? Imagine your social audiences are eating your jelly beans. Are you providing a yummy taste? Are your visitors asking for more?

Give your followers a reason to come back. It’s very important in this new frontier of “permission-based marketing” a/k/a social media. Your fans are giving you permission to send them valuable content. Don’t disappoint them

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