A key part in creating a social media strategy is to ensure that you have a coherent set of measures that align with that strategy. But how do you prioritise the multitude of measures that are available to you?  

Which is more valuable - a Facebook "like" or a twitter follower? This article seeks to set out why and how you can go about defining this for your own brands.

Much has been written and debated about setting appropriate key performance indicators for social media, and rightly so. More than ever, as spend is rapidly being diverted into supporting a business or brand's social engagement, it is essential that appropriate metrics are agreed in advance to ensure that this social investment delivers the necessary returns.  

We have co-authored the IAB approach to measuring social media, that sets out to ensure your objectives for social media engagement are aligned with your broader business objectives.

The complexity, of course, comes when you begin to get into exactly how you will be engaging in social spaces. As you get into the detailed planning, you will appreciate more and more that social is not a channel at all, but more an approach to communications that can permeate all your traditional communications channels.  

Setting aside this greater puzzle for the moment, of how to begin to incorporate a coherent social strategy into your broader communications channels, let's just focus on how to go about setting appropriate measures and targets for what can be explicitly termed social channels.  

Here, I am referring principally to engagement spaces covering social connections such as Facebook and Linkedin, blogging and microblogging spaces such as Twitter, location based interaction such as Foursquare and Scvngr and subject-based discussion forums like Mumsnet and Pistonheads.

As you explore each area, it is feasible to begin to set metrics and targets for each of these areas in turn.  

For example:

Social connections 

The goal for the brand is likely to involve building a network of fans and then engaging them with interesting content and conversation over time, so some fairly simple metrics here seem appropriate, such as number of connections and engagement rate. 

This should ensure that you have a balanced approach to acquiring connections and then building them into advocates.  In more advanced cases, you may even be able to ascribe a monetary value to a Facebook "like", as we have been able to do for Unilever's Lynx brand, and this can be used to directly drive the social media business case.

Microblogging and blogging

What can start off as a social tool to increase the reach of corporate PR will quickly evolve into a conversation channel. Simple metrics will involve the number of followers/subscribers, level of engagement and reach.  

Reach can be calculated using tools such as www.tweetreach.com, or authority tools, such as Klout or Peerindex.

Location based engagement

Driven by mobile, location based engagement will potentially lead to interaction with brands in the physical world, and should not be restricted to being considered simply as an opportunity for retail brand discussion forums. 

Engaging in conversations with audiences who are interested in the product area is potentially a winning strategy, while forcing yourself into conversations where the brand is at best tangential is unlikely to deliver short or long term value.

Setting a coherent set of metrics and targets is hard enough, but a critical step in setting the social strategy and then appropriate measures to assess how well it’s being realised is to understand the relative value of each of those targets.  

Which is worth more - a Facebook "like" or a Twitter follower? A comment on your own blog, or your comment on another's blog?

Most of these are incredibly difficult to allocate a specific value to unless backed up by some serious research.  

However, giving some significant thought to what each type of interaction means is going to be critical if you are going to create a social strategy that will genuinely add value to the business.  

For the sake of starting an argument, I will set out my own league table of the potential value of different types of social engagement, based on a theoretical FMCG brand, with an existing "operational" level of social media engagement, from most to least valuable:

  1. Link to Brand blog from other blog or site.
  2. Facebook  brand page "Like".
  3. Twitter follow.
  4. Facebook comment posted on Brand page.
  5. Facebook brand comment “Like”.
  6. Twitter brand comment retweeted .
  7. Youtube subscription.
  8. Foursquare or location "check in".
  9. Youtube channel view.
  10. Comment posted on brand blog.

Starting your own list of the relative value of each type of social interaction will certainly lead to a really valuable and important conversation as you will have to validate your findings against your own social strategy and success metrics.  

Over time, we will progress towards ascribing an absolute value to each of the interactions set out above, but in the meantime, it is a great way of evaluating how well your social strategy is aligned to your social efforts.

Ross Taylor

Published 23 June, 2011 by Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor is Chief Digital Officer at TMW and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (8)

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Sean Walsh

I'd probably have brand blog comments ahead of YouTube subscriptions tbh. It's nice to nurture a community onsite and invaluable to have a bit of a debate boiling on the article - especially in opinion pieces (Which I wish more brands would do, but legal gets in the way).

Sure it's nice to have subscribers but if your video is good enough then your other social channels will take care of it. I rarely subscribe to channels.

Interesting article!

about 7 years ago


Ross Taylor

Thanks for your comments Sean. I think that you can easily make the argument for blog comments over youtube subscriptions, but it is having the argument in the first place that is important. Thanks, Ross

about 7 years ago


Ketan Patel


Nice article.

I do struggle with the logic of placing a FB Page "Like" at No 2 as its not a real indicator of engagement. A lot of FB pages insist that you like the page before filling in a competition form etc. This typically results in a very short term interaction and hardly any engagement.

Perhaps a true level of engagement is a combination of "Like" (page or comment) AND active participation in the conversation (e.g. posting comments, adding photos etc) PLUS linking to the Brand FB page from the users blog. In my mind, this shows real brand advocacy. Of course, the ultimate advocate is the one who independently sets up a FB page promoting your brand.

about 7 years ago


Gabe Chesman

Very impressive, Ross. It takes moxy to tackle this enigma with such a cut and dry list. While I would move some things around, I think it's a great list and a logical step in the creation of a social media strategy.

about 7 years ago


Matt Pierson

I would question ranking a Facebook like above a Facebook comment. The more effort required, the stronger the signal of engagement represented and higher potential value. Since commenting requires having liked...

about 7 years ago



Wonderful stuff!

about 7 years ago


Ross Taylor

Thanks for everyone's comments. The ranking for every business and brand is going to differ depending on their individual social strategy and their level of maturity and succcess in using the social space. As time goes by, then the ranking of different social metrics should change - early on, a Facebook like will be far more important,whereas once the number of facebook fans reaches critical mass, then a comment may become more valuable.

Does anyone want to post a list for a B2B scenario?



about 7 years ago


Andrew Davies

Good stuff.

As you mention, Ross, the most important thing is to actually think about the ordering of the list for each particular client (goals/sector/maturity etc).

The difficulty (and beauty) about the fragmentation of channels and engagement points is that consumers now follow different paths. Although a funnel of progression towards purchase/retention etc is a useful framework, its important to understand that moving people "up" the list of metrics is not the only path (some people comment more easily than "like" etc).

The various sharing buttons are also important in the list, as sharing is usually a strong indicator of interest.

about 7 years ago

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