oscar selfieIn social media, there are the numbers that matter, and there are the numbers we tout.

In fact, the numbers are touted for us because they’re visible for all to see. Take, for example, this selfie Ellen Degeneres took at the Oscars. We know it was the most popular tweet of all time because we can look at the numbers and see.

I’m not saying these numbers don’t matter. They do, and if you get millions of retweets like Ellen did here, please pat yourself on the back. But there are other numbers that are likely more important to you as a small business owner that are less visible.

Let’s take a look at both types of metrics.

Super-Visible Vanity Metrics

Some metrics, such as retweets, likes, repins, your follower count and more, are visibly counted so the whole world can see how you’re doing. Certainly, when these numbers are high, they give you credibility, which is especially useful if you want to establish yourself as an expert. They also increase the chances that those outside your network will be introduced to your business through others’ interactions with you in their feed. This is all good stuff.

But let’s say your followers like and share their little hearts out when your bakery, for example, posts the pies it’s promoting for Thanksgiving. Then not a single one of them clicks through to your website to purchase those pies. That post didn’t fulfill what was likely your ultimate goal.

These visual numbers also encourage us to compare ourselves, which typically does us little good, especially when we compare ourselves to large, established brands. Take this tweet from Coca-Cola.

At the time of writing this, this tweet had 132 retweets and 230 favorites. That’s wonderful — and not at all realistic for most smaller brands.

So here’s some advice: Don’t compare yourself to Coke. Or any large brands. Or small brands who have been on social media longer than you have. Really, it’s unfair to compare yourself to any other business. Instead, we recommend you look at similarly minded businesses, assess what they’re getting a response to and try your version of it.

Now if you post or tweet content that gets a ton of shares or retweets, by all means, determine what made that a success and try to replicate it! What we’re saying is: Don’t get down if your visual metrics seem low. There are more important numbers to pay attention to. 

The Hidden Metrics That Matter

Recently I posted this on our Facebook page.

When I returned to assess how it performed, I saw the one like it initially garnered and thought: Well, that bombed. But then I looked at the metrics in Facebook Insights. Turns out it had 168 “post clicks,” which counts how many users clicked on the post in Facebook, and 168 “link clicks,” meaning they clicked through on the link in the post.

Two things stand out here:

  1. Interaction with this post was actually quite high — it just wasn’t visible by looking at it on our Facebook page.
  2. People were unusually encouraged to click. Link click numbers are typically much lower than post clicks. Here, 100% of the people who engaged with the post, also clicked. So they went to the place I was attempting to funnel them to. That’s huge.

While it appears this post didn’t garner much interest at a glance, in truth, it’s a success story.

Here’s what your takeaways should be:

  1. Don’t get overly caught up in visual metrics.
  2. If your goal is to funnel followers to your site, link clicks are what you need to focus on.
  3. Quiet people make purchases too.