Strategy & Marketing

Stop Obsessing Over Social Media Metrics and Start Obsessing Over Ideas

One of the great mistakes of the social media age is obsessing over metrics at the expense of ideas. There are so many digital tools today that analyze our posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others that we’ve become mesmerized at numbers rather than impact. But wait – before you say “Numbers are impact” – let me explain:

I’m noticing the situation with many church, ministry and nonprofit communications teams who constantly remind the pastor or leader about the organization’s social media metrics. With great enthusiasm, they do their best to impress leadership with followers, engagements, and other positive stats.

That’s nice, and don’t get me wrong – we do want people interacting and engaging with your posts. However, I’d also like to see more communications teams sweating the message.

Yes – it’s the pastor or leader’s job to come up with the message, and the communication team’s job to share and measure it. However, don’t get so caught up with tracking that you start ignoring other important issues of creativity and excellence.

As we’ve seen so many times, when it comes to metrics, gaming the system is pretty easy. There are plenty ways to jack up the numbers, order more of the pastor’s books, buy followers, or otherwise make the social media numbers look great. But my question is simple:

What are we saying? What is the message we’re sharing? What’s the quality of that message? What’s the level of the writing, the creativity or the thinking behind it?

Has the fact that someone clicked on your scripture post actually changed their life?

I would far rather have a small group of enthusiastic social media followers than a massive group of followers who don’t really care. Find your voice. Deliver compelling messages. Create posts that people can’t forget.

Focus less on hitting metrics, and more on changing people’s lives.

Photo by Lukas from Pexels

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  1. I realised that I didn’t have time for analysis and media creation, so faced with a choice I stopped doing analysis. Funders don’t like it. But we still get the job done. Maybe someday we’ll get someone to do analysis…

  2. I’ve had heated discussions, well maybe not too heated, with our senior pastor and social media folks over how we can boost the number of FaceBook “views” that our live service gets every week. Currently, with over a thousand views a week, that sounds great, but it’s really 1000 views of 3 seconds each. As you said, how many lives are changed by hearing 10 words or a half line of a song? Those FB numbers are not real.

    After discovering this, we’ve stopped looking at those numbers completely. I’m not limiting our God but I’m limiting our obsession with paying attention to things that don’t matter. Thanks Phil!

    1. My recommendation isn’t to stop looking completely. But as you say, those numbers are limited and don’t give you the entire picture. You’re correct that focusing on the things that really matter (the content) is what will start changing those numbers. Thanks for sharing that!

  3. Whilst i respect Phil’s thinking in this article, i think that we need to consider the importance of metrics as exemplified by a car’s dashboard, whilst the metrics of the dashboard don’t impact the quality of the dinner you are going to have, they impact how you get or fail to get there. For instance the fuel gauge might be showing you that you need to refuel or it might show you that the temperature is too high. You need the metrics to travel efficiently. In digital marketing, all the metrics can be used to actually create a content plan that delivers value, is impactful and can make a change in people’s lives.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Joseph. That’s why I wrote about “obsessive” interest in metrics. You’re correct that the dashboard is critical, but if you don’t occasionally look up through the windshield to see where you’re going, bad things are going to happen….
      Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I realised that I didn’t have time for analysis and media creation, so faced with a choice I stopped doing analysis. Funders don’t like it. But we still get the job done. Maybe someday we’ll get someone to do analysis…

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