The problem of how to measure social media is  we’re all convinced you need a tool to do it. This is because the software companies out there who have these tools want you to buy from them.

The realization hit me as I stumbled across Agorapulse’s recent post entitled, “What Social Media Measurement Tool Does My Business Need?” Don’t get me wrong, Agorapulse has nice software and it can help you by spitting out metrics, but in order to measure social media, you don’t start with the tool.

To measure social media you start with your goal.

Tools that measure social media just count like toddlersAgorapulse and all the other tools to help you with social media measurement are great at counting things and displaying the fingers for you. But like a toddler saying, “I’m this many,” there’s no meaning to the numbers if you don’t take into account the context and reason for them being there in the first place.

Dozens of tools will measure social media by reporting you have this many followers or that many likes. They can tell you how fast you’re growing, which posts are being seen or are more engaging based on interactions, and all that jazz.

But none of the tools that measure social media can plug in to *your* goal and say, “You’re X percent from reaching your goal.” Or “You will meet your goal by Y date.”

Goals should be tied to business objectives. If your goal is to increase sales, any tool you subscribe to needs to be able to intake your old sales numbers, track your new sales numbers and show you the difference. If your goal is to improve customer service, the tool you use needs to have previous customer service scores on hand to compare new ones to, a method to score new ones and so on.

These tools that claim to measure social media don’t measure social media. They count social media actions. You have to connect those actions to your business goals and objectives.

Then and only then can you actually measure social media.

What tools do you use to help measure social media? How do you connect the numbers to business goals? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments.

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