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Published November 28th 2012

What Makes a Social Media Metric Stand Up To Scrutiny?

Social media land is jam-packed with metrics. If you haven’t had a week with a new metric and whitepaper arriving – well, you probably just haven’t been checking your email.

The million dollar question is: how can you work out if any of these metrics are any good?

They’ve all got some some number-filled tables and graphs, lots of percentage signs, and probably overuse words like ‘attribution’.

But if there was just one measure that could be used to assess whether a metric was likely to be of any practical use to you and your business, I would say it is this: openness.

Of course, it’s going to be hard to find a metric that is 100% open. If one has been devised in any part by an agency, they will be keen to keep a little something back as proprietary. But that doesn’t change the judgement of how the metric was formed.

Having openness as your key measure means you’re judging a metric that others before you have seen, had input into and judged. An open metric will be one that has been created with some measure of collaboration.

Who should a metric be open to? To clients, for a start.

But also, to academia – academics are used to dealing with the hard numbers, and are tackling this problem with or without industry input.

And finally, metrics should be open to peers – and yes, that means competitors too. Finding a metric that has been created in this way means it’s just that bit more likely to be robust, workable, tested and valuable.

Ultimately, the reason that openness is such an important metric is because social media is still in its infancy. It’s very hard for anyone to claim to have ‘The Answer’ to anything – because the correct answers change every day.

Social media is a young field – and the best answer will come from those that learn from each other – by being open.

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