Using "Advanced Metrics" to Evaluate Social Media

Sabermetrics can be defined as the objective analysis of the game of baseball, specifically through the use of advanced statistics. One goal of sabermetrics is to remove certain biases in order to better understand the value each player possesses in relation to his peers. Certain traditional statistics, such as the pitcher win or the RBI, are loathed by sabermetricians because, although they don’t necessarily paint an accurate picture of a player’s skill, they are considered to be very important metrics during player evaluation.Sabermetrics burst into the mainstream with the publication of Michael Lewis’ Moneyball. This book tells the story of Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and how he put together a winning baseball team on a shoestring budget by embracing certain advanced statistics. By determining which player traits were undervalued by the market and creatively acquiring players who excelled in those areas, Beane’s A’s were able to compete with teams whose payrolls were three or four times higher. 

Sometimes with social media, we tend to overvalue certain statistics, such as the total follower count on Twitter. This is understandable, as everyone wants to have the highest number of followers possible. Not only does this look nice, but it means we’re reaching a large audience. But if Billy Beane were a healthcare marketer, he’d probably compare the total follower count with a baseball player’s batting average. For starters, these two stats are generally listed first, and thus are thought of very highly when evaluating the player or the Twitter handle that precedes them. But neither tells the whole story. A player’s batting average fails to take into account his ability to get on base using other methods (such as drawing walks), it doesn’t measure how many bases the player gains with each hit (a singles hitter can’t be as valuable as a guy who hits a lot of doubles, triples and homers with the same batting average, can he?), and it doesn’t consider how many times the player reached base when an out should have been made but an error wasn’t charged.Like batting average, a total follower count on Twitter doesn’t tell the whole story. Here are some tips for evaluating a Twitter account by looking past the number of followers it has:

  • Look at the quality of your followers: While it would be nice to have 1,000 followers, what good would it do if 950 of those followers aren’t relevant to your business? Many people follow others in order to boost their own count. Take the time to scroll through your list of followers and see how many of them are your customers, prospects, competitors or industry influencers. If your content is not only solid, but is also being read by the right people, your follower total will continue to grow organically, and you will see more benefits in the long run.
  • Measure follower engagement: Twitter is unique in that it can be a venue for either one-way or two-way communication. Unless you are a celebrity whose followers are only interested in the details of your daily life, odds are you want to start some conversations via Twitter. Check out how many times per week your account is either mentioned or retweeted. If you have 50 followers and get 10 mentions each week, isn’t that better than having 500 followers and getting the same level of engagement?
  • Keep track of your clickthroughs: This goes hand-in-hand with tracking your follower engagement. When you post links, be sure to use a service such as bit.ly or ow.ly that will measure clickthroughs for each link that you generate. If you tweet one article a day that is relevant to all 50 of your followers and average 20 clickthroughs a week, your business will benefit much more than if you tweet 5 articles a day to 500 followers, but still see the same results.

When evaluating your social media presence, be sure to look past the surface. It may take a little extra work, but applying the methods of sabermetrics to your Twitter account can yield some pleasant results.