Testing Processes for Fine-Tuning Your Social Media Metrics Dashboard
The first part of your social media metrics protocol should be determining whether the metrics you're tracking are right for you and for what you and your brand need to know to effect positive results. The amount of data pouring in is enormous. You need to use best practices and protocols to sort that data into what you really need to know to fine-tune your dashboard.
Action testing for social media metrics
Over time, take each new metric and put it to the test of action. If you have a high exit rate on three pages, for example, first take a look at the pages and see whether you can tweak the content or improve the layout. Track the metric a while longer; if it doesn't improve, think about what it means. If everyone must exit your site at some point, does that metric matter? If it isn't important to you, relegate that metric to the "track once in a while to make sure that the site is working" pile and move your attention elsewhere.
Another example is a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign. If you're doing segmented analytics, you'll be able to quickly see the metrics from organic search terms and the metrics from your PPC campaign and tell whether your campaign is working. If it isn't, you can save yourself money by ending that campaign. If it is, you know to funnel more money to that campaign. This metric can lead directly to conversion and sales on your site, so it's important to keep it in your dashboard.
Attention testing for social media metrics
You should be able to monitor and analyze your metrics in about an hour a day for most brands. That amount of time may seem too short after you see how much data the social web willingly gives up for your analytical pleasure, but the first test — action — should help narrow down that data.
If you're spending too much time on analytics study, you aren't putting those analytics to work for you or your brand and you aren't spending enough time on converting those numbers to profit. Without profit, you don't stay in business, so it's important to reach balance.
Nonmetrics measurement (value) testing
The interesting thing about social media is that it offers a variety of metrics not related to click rates and online search results. Part of your protocol should be periodic tests to see whether you're delivering value or simply behaving like an advertisement.
Measure the number of comments your blog generates, the number of replies for your tweets, the comments (not the likes) under your Facebook posts, and the thread of discussion around Google+ shares. Measure the reach of these discussions. Are the posts and content items not only being discussed, but being reshared other places and discussed there also?
If your posts generate engagement, then you can begin to convert that to loyal customers, fans, and brand awareness by getting to know your customers on a much deeper level than by simply tracking what pages they visit on your site or which ad they clicked.
Take a look at the social monetary value metric of your social sharing also. This one requires a combination of nonmetrics measurement of social shares and referrals and micro- and macro-tracking goals in your analytics program.
Social media metrics permission testing
People in the social web space give you plenty of information for free as a trade-off for using various social sites and performing actions on the web itself.
Run checks and balances on all your social media metrics and social media outreach and campaigns to constantly make sure that you're exercising permission-based marketing principals.
In short, track everything, but don't use black hat tactics to invade the privacy of others or perform other nefarious actions on your unsuspecting customer or potential customer.
Every metrics dashboard should also have a metrics and marketing roadmap behind it. Clearly define your business objectives and the steps needed to reach each one so that you know where your metrics fit along the way.
Constantly refer to this roadmap to see how your metrics are performing. Every campaign needs milestones. Did you set up segmenting in your campaign and metrics so that you can get a clear vision of what went right or wrong?
In the end, you determine your own best practices and protocols that work for you and your brand, but this short list should get you started.