Actionable metrics: Business associates deciding which KPI metrics are most useful.
This is another blog entry in our series on metrics.

A short while back somebody asked me this question:

We are helping a company to get more bang for their buck from their social media activities. Of course we also want to develop the necessary KPIs.
In your advisory services, do you have an approach you can recommend?

This blog entry addresses KPIs (key performance indicators).
We also address how one can avoid falling victim to vanity metrics instead of using actionable KPIs. The latter can make a real difference to your bottom line.

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Wine cellar: Inventory needed

I remember when, as a young adult, I worked in a very fine hotel with a great wine cellar that also had a store.

The cellar master told me that to find out what treasures he had in his wine cellar, it was best for us to do an inventory. But while counting bottles was okay, he assured me that was not what he was really after.

Of course, it was nice to know how many bottles there were of each brand and year. However, he was much more interested in learning which wines left the shelves the fastest and sold frequently. He was also keen to know how the various wine types compared when it came to customers complaining about a bottle having gone bad (i.e. had cork pieces when opened).

As the above suggests, his understanding of the term inventory or social media audit included “show me the numbers” – i.e. sales data.

Vanity versus actionable metrics: Navel gazing metrics are out.
Vanity versus actionable: Navel gazing metrics are out.

Knowing what insights we want to gain from a KPI helps develop the metrics that deliver the insights we want. As the wine cellar example shows, choosing insightful metrics makes a huge difference.

The above illustrates that besides counting bottles when doing an inventory or a social media audit, you must address such things as:

  • Which wines sell the most and are beloved by customers – For social media this means, which types of tweets or Instagram posts get the most likes…?
  • Which wines did people complain the most about after consuming the product (e.g., tasted bad) – For social media this means, which bloggers or Facebook users are most likely to complain / write negative entries about the brand…?
  • Which wines get many recommendations or word-of-mouth referrals – For social media this means, which types of tweets or blog entries get re-tweeted or receive many reader comments?

Clearly, the wine-making business and social media marketing have more in common than it would appear at first glance. In both cases, before you move forward you need to take stock. In turn, this allows you to gain insights into what you have already accomplished.

2. Effective KPIs depend on a clear objective

Besides taking an inventory of how good things might be right now, you need to know what objectives you must accomplish next quarter or during dinner.

Is the bottle of wine to woo a friend, impress your boss or just enjoy with your company?

To impress your guests it might suffice to simply purchase the wine that your favourite life style magazine recommended a while back.

Pageviews or likes on Instagram might not be the actionable metrics we want. These are like vanity metrics, i.e. we might feel good about large numbers, but they will most likely fail to move product from our shelves.

We need to decide what insights a KPI provides us with that will help reach our goals fast. To illustrate, Arsene Wenger (Arsenal football team’s longest serving coach) used a few metrics that have become legendary in the UK’s Premier League.

Of course, when considering paying to have a new player transfer to your club, you always want to check the medical data. If the player’s key medical indicators are satisfactory, you try to negotiate and hopefully they end up playing with your club.

But even when the medical data looked okay, Wenger was famous for also immediately checking the striker’s acceleration speed. Acceleration speed was a critial KPI on which he based his decision of whether to pursue a transfer or not.

Wenger was of the opinion that with great acceleration speed, the striker was more likely to win a one-on-one fight for the ball. In turn, this would increase the striker’s likelihood of winning many one-on-one contests. Whenever a striker won a ball this way, he could again use his speed to create situations that might result in another goal. Thierry Henri was one of the more famous examples where Wenger demonstrated the importance of this KPI for evaluating a striker’s potential.

Sharing content on social networks, reading content on your mobile.
Sharing content on social networks, reading content on your mobile.

What does the Wenger example tell us in the context of social media marketing? For starters, we need to decide whether we are dealing with:

  • consumer goods or capital goods, or
  • business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) situations.

Influencer marketing might work with fashion or luxury items, but paying US$ 40,000 or more for an Instagram post does not necessarily correlate to more sales. Without tracking the result with a URL and discount code, we might get many views but zero additional sales.

In the B2B context, a blogger with expertise in the business you are in (e.g., robotics) might be a good strategy. Here, Instagram posts might be a waste of resources.

In short, if your goal is to sell screws and bolts, try to assess if your KPI has any correlation with a desirable outcome, such as higher sales or more repeat sales.

Your focus could be on increasing awareness of your product or brand with your B2B target audience. Regardless, you want to find a KPI that helps measure this. One desirable outcome of your marketing activity on social networks might be you getting more requests for information or new subscribers to your newsletter, and so forth.

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What is your opinion?

Incidentally, we have not discussed what to look for when purchasing a wine. Any wine connoisseur will tell you that what year and time of year the grapes were harvested matters. Many more factors can be considered for determining how well the wine might taste after it is ready to be sold. Of course, if you want to guzzle the very cheap stuff, this may not concern you at all.

Similarly, you must answer these two questions in social media marketing:

  • what target audience do you intend to reach, and
  • what content will you produce and share on social networks?

Navel gazing or vanity metrics are not very helpful. The KPIs must permit you to gain insights. They must help you improve against yardsticks, such as:

  • number of customers, and
  • amount of sales per client.
Unless you measure for impact, why measure at all?
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Business person reading the insightful DrKPI report full of actionable metrics.
Business person reading the insightful DrKPI report full of actionable metrics.

We love to hear from you!

  • Do you have KPIs that you have used in social media marketing across projects?
  • What KPIs do you use in the B2B versus B2C context?
  • What is your best KPI in a consumer product versus a capital good (e.g., machine) context?
  • What questions do you have about KPIs?
  • What do you like or dislike about KPIs?

Please share this entry on social media using this link:

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.

WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale. WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale.WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale.| Fotolia #109130295

Summary: We all know the secret of real style is having the personality to match.
The key lessons from Donald Trump about style and influence are not what you think they are.

This is a series of posts that began with, Influence marketing experts’ top secrets. Today we focus on the ingredients that help one become an influencer.

Recently I had a talk with two friends in brand marketing and one in the hotel business. Here are some of the topics we covered.

1. Storytelling: Just ask Pension Guggenberger

If you are a Gaestehaus Guggenberger, you do not have a multi-million dollar budget like the Mandarin Oriental group to tell your story. Hence, a global advertising campaign “He’s a Fan / She’s a Fan” with award-winning French actress, Isabelle Huppert or Morgan Freeman is out of the question.

Nevertheless, you can focus on what some call “signature stories”. This is an intriguing, authentic, involving narrative with a strategic message. Stories have been shown to be superior to facts in getting attention, being remembered and getting people to change opinions.

The story should represent some form of strategic statement (see Karen Dietz) about the firm’s mission, values, brand or customer relationship. In turn, it can help achieve corporate strategy.

As a family business for more than 30 years, we need to find a story that helps people relate to the hotel, including “heroes” who have done great things for guests (i.e. family members and employees).

Bottom line: If famous people are part of your marketing campaign, some celebs will do your brand and sales efforts some good, and others will not.

If we lack the cash, we can touch customers and clarify our business values by creating a powerful narrative – storytelling at its best.

Donald always has a story to tell – on and off stage. We may not like it, but it is interesting if not outrageous, and it engages. Hillary doesn’t manage this very well, but Sanders is giving it his best shot.

Read: Aaker, David & Aaker, Jenifer (2016). California Management Review, Vol. 58 No. 3, Spring 2016; (pp. 49-65) DOI: 10.1525/cmr.2016.58.3.49 (short synposis Stanford U.).

2. Superstar economics works – ask JK Rowling

As the author of the Harry Potter novels you have shown yourself capable of telling a great story.

But besides the story, if you are famous like JK Rowling, that helps you sell books. She used the nom de plume Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling, supposedly his first novel.

Shortly after it was published in April 2013 it got a few reviews, but nothing spectacular. Over seven months and with plenty of marketing, it sold only about 450 hardback copies in the UK under Galbraith’s name. But somehow through word-of-mouth or gossip it was revealed that JK Rowling was the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, at which point it surged to bestseller status on Amazon within a week.

Meanwhile, my book sold just under 1,000 copies in the first seven months even though the publisher had a hiccough. Such a number is great for a non-fiction, technical book. Nevertheless, without much marketing behind it, this illustrates that selling a lot of books is a tough job.

In this example superstar economics or brand recognition means your name is sufficient to cut through the increasing clutter of rivals and newcomers.

Bottom line: Name recognition makes things easier. For JK Rowling it means selling more books, for Hilary Clinton it won her a New York senate seat, and for Donald Trump it means… (see below).

3. Understanding influence: Ask style bloggers

You may not have the winning combination of a thought-provoking, interesting and possibly entertaining story to tell. Nor may the superstar economics or brand recognition of your name be good enough to get through the clutter of rivals and newcomers.

Authenticity is one more way to reach out. But for this Instagram fashion bloggers need to wear clothes that actually suit them. Furthermore, their style needs to express something of their personality, instead of the homogenous fairy dolls that typically populate the red carpet.

Some like Michèle seem to suggest that, “Real style is having the personality to match. I know it when I see it.”

As we discussed in the last blog entry, being female and young seems to help. Apparently, fashion labels believe that a 20-year-old blogger can sell a 50-year-old professional the brand’s latest creations.

Just because somebody has many followers or fans does not mean they can convince people to run out and buy their latest skirt from brand X. This even applies if you are making a living from brands, but actually are lost in a mess of peroxide and passionless fashionability.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3112″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”401px” Title=”Michèle knows what influence is, but cannot give us the numbers.” alt=”Michèle knows what influence is, but cannot give us the numbers.”]

See the above in action when you read, Hello, I’m Michèle, I’m a foolish, dumb, little blogger (so worth it – thoughful and sassy).

Bottom line: Influencer marketing is a great field where few can show anyone the numbers. It is not good enough to claim, “I know it when I see it.” Otherwise, why do brands fail to sponsor bloggers over 30? Do these people not need clothes, accessories or cosmetics?

4. Eyeballs matter: Just ask Donald Trump

So your story is authentic, with substance and intriguing. You are famous and your voice is being heard through the noise. But do you have the personality and style, if not substance to go with it?

This is what the US Presidential primaries illustrate. All candidates have or had a story to tell, but some are clearly better at being more authentic and engaging than others. One thing is clear, Trump was already considered the most visible of contenders in 2011 for November 2016’s possible GOP (Grand Old Party = Republican Party) presidential candidates in the US election.

Donald Trump has gotten more nightly network news coverage than the entire Democratic field combined (see report). Mrs Clinton has struggled to get the air time that Mr Trump has, a skill that helped him beat 16 rivals.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3567″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”731px” Title=”Social media metrics and US primary-election candidates: Trump tweets from his smartphone – not like others first checked by press officers.” alt=”Social media metrics and US primary-election candidates: Trump tweets from his smartphone – not like others first checked by press officers.”]
Above is from The Economist 2016-02-29: American presidential candidates and social media

Most of Donald Trump’s speeches or events tend to be carried live by US television networks. To illustrate, in week 21, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC chose to broadcast Mr Trump’s event in North Dakota, instead of an event by Mrs Clinton held in Las Vegas. This even though Mr Trump has essentially wrapped up the Republican nomination while the Democratic primary election battle rages on.

Mr Trump plays the media well and the media allows itself to be played with. It will be a tough fight for Mrs Clinton.

Interesting read: Does your marketing influence B2B decision-makers? Word-of-mouth is a winner – marketing, not so much. EMarketer. Retrieved, January 15, 2016 from

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3555″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”779px” height=”337px” Title=”Defining influence: There may be no “one size fits all”, but if we cannot agree on a definition, how are we supposed to measure it?” alt=”Defining influence: There may be no “one size fits all”, but if we cannot agree on a definition, how are we supposed to measure it?”]

Bottom line: If you get a lot of TV airtime and are often written about in online and traditional media, it helps – as Donald Trump knows. It makes you even more famous (see point 1 and #helpilayda crowdfunding campaign).

5. Influence is tough to measure, but Donald Trump appears to have some

As our discussion in the Xing Social Monitoring Group between Jan SedlacekAldo Gnocchi and myself illustrates, influence is a difficult concept to grasp and measure.

When you come across a statistic that suggests nearly two out of five managers are influenced by their peers and colleagues, you start to think.

How much do they listen to their colleagues?
Does it stop them from firing somebody?
Will it get them to stay at my hotel the next time they are in Munich?
Will they change their vote from Trump to Clinton?

Word-of-mouth influences somebody to consider a new product or another brand, hotel, etc, but thinking about or even considering buying a brand is one thing. Going out and buying the product is a big step further than that, and reading an influencer’s tweet or blog entry will not do the trick alone.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3553″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”335px” Title=”Measuring Klout almost makes sense, but not quite… Jaron Lanier” alt=”Measuring Klout almost makes sense, but not quite… Jaron Lanier”]

The above is from our Social Media Monitoring group on Xing – Jan Sedlacek posted an entry.

Influence is difficult to grasp and even more challenging to measure. For instance, for an outsider it is hard to understand that a tennis player such as Maria Sharapova, who does not rank in the top ten, garners the most lucrative sponsorship deals. Nike was served disappointing news in March 2016 when Sharapova was found to have failed a drugs test. In turn, the company dropped its sponsorship of the tennis star.

And while Roger Federer is no longer at the top of the rankings, his sponsorship deals outshine those of Novak Djokovic, the current number one.

Accordingly, we do not know if Roger Federer or Morgan Freeman bring more guests to the hotel that features them in advertising. They might put our brand in a better light. We hope so. Unfortunately, we cannot be certain.

[su_box title=”Table 1: JK Rowling, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton share their secrets” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 780″ ]Here are the four factors to consider

1. Superstar economics works, but most of us ain’t superstars

So if you have a reputation in sports or as an actor, great. If not, most of us have to do without a Susan Sarandon or Julia Roberts as an ambassador to increase our occupancy rate at our small family hotel.

Hence, many small steps make the difference in selling enough product or services. Following tips 2 -3 below also helps a great deal.

2. Eyeballs matter, but you must tell me a great story

This year’s US primaries have demonstrated that getting free TV, print or digital media coverage helps a lot.

But are you outrageous, entertaining AND enough of a big mouth to get everybody’s attention? Do you mind getting the facts wrong? Donald Trump doesn’t care much about facts or people’s feelings (a somewhat scary combination if he becomes US president, I think).

Nevertheless, most of us might not want to be that rude. Nor do we come close to his skill at playing the media. Therefore, do not waste time trying.

Instead, be ready to tell an interesting story when given the chance. Hence, we need an:

inspiring and clarifying story that helps people relate to our label, brand or firm to get customers and media interested.
I still have to write mine – starting now. How about your story?

3. Setting goals helps, but focus on the top three tasks

How much money do you want to raise for a very sick child? In turn, what are the three most important things you need to do to raise these funds?

How high an occupancy rate do you wish to achieve for first and third quarter? What do you need to do today to raise your occupancy rate accordingly?

Your stories, content marketing, and social media use all have to help you make it happen.

Hence, a 0.25 percent click rate for Donald Trump on Twitter might be great (see image below). It could possibly bring him another few voters when every single one counts to win the US Presidency in November 2016.

But for you, going to a luncheon organised by the Chamber of Commerce might be more beneficial for landing a new B2B (business to business) client than wasting time on Facebook. Whatever you do, decide, because time and resources are limited.


Does the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016 campaign on social media like Twitter get people to change their vote come the election?

Does the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016 campaign on social media like Twitter get people to change their vote come the election?

Donald Trump’s 2016-05-22 tweet and its statistics.

The secret to real style is having the personality to match and doing things with some substance. Of course, our behaviour may influence our kids every day.

But just because I clear the breakfast table does not mean I influence my kids to help. In fact, unless I have a serious word with them tomorrow morning, they continue to leave a mess. The result is that I have to continue cleaning up after them every morning. NOT.

Some interesting reads

How useful is Google search data when predicting primary elections?
YouTube stars gain appeal

5. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Real lessons Donald Trump can teach us

What is your opinion?

  • Do you know a small business person that is influential in your circles? How did it happen? Offline, online, or both?
  • Is social media just an instant signal or does it influence our decisions in what to purchase?
  • How do you decide which are next quarter’s top three activities to improve your bottom line?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).

6. Just do it: Ask Renata Flores Rivera

Incidentally, you can be part of a minority, use a Michael Jackson song and sing it in your native tongue. That is what Renata Flores Rivera did (Quechua are a native minority in Peru). She was heard and became famous across her native country.

Nevertheless, most of us do not even manage to be heard and seen through the clutter in our industry or field of work. Just live with it.

And no, 15 minutes of fame (Nat Finkelstein and Andy Warhol saying) may not be in your cards – it’s that simple.