Most people theoretically understand what ‘KPIs’ mean. ‘Key Performance Indicators’. The things that determine whether your strategy or campaign succeeds. The things that your bosses love. The things that you spend your working life striving to achieve.
But although most of us seem to know the term, do we really understand what our KPIs are telling us? Let’s take a look at a few examples, starting with something we’re all familiar with: Facebook.
On a daily basis I speak to new clients and prospective clients regarding Facebook engagement rate (ER) and how ‘well’ their pages are doing. I’ll be honest; the first two to three minutes of these conversations normally confuse me.
“Our pages engagement rate is very good at the moment. We have an ER of 35% and our competitors average around 10%.”
“I’m currently happy with how things are going. Our ‘Talking about This’ figure is currently 5000.”
“We have a vibrancy of 40 and would like to increase this over the next 6 months.”
Sure, I understand the words ‘engagement’, ‘vibrancy’ and Facebook ‘Talking about This’ (TAT) metrics. But I struggle to understand what any of this means because the numbers cited aren’t being contextualised.
Engagement and vibrancy can be measured in a series of ways; they can be expressed as a percentage of the total fans on a Facebook page, interactions per individual, post reach, TAT vs. Fan base, and various combinations of other metrics available. Before we can attempt to assess the figures, we need to look at what we trying to achieve. What are your goals as a business? Are you trying to reach people, engage people, or get followers? Only once we know the answers to these questions can we determine, based on experience and competitors, what can be considered good performance, and where we can improve.
To use a sporting analogy, you probably wouldn’t set the same Goal Scoring KPI for a football striker as you would a defender, would you? In fact you might not even have a Goal Scoring KPI for the defender at all, because that’s not his primary task for the season. Instead, what we would do is set KPIs that are meaningful to the defender’s role. We would then set targets that are meaningful to those KPIs, that are measurable, and that all the players understand.
A great example of this is the TAT statistic in Facebook. If you are measuring ‘engagement’ (which many people perceive as the effectiveness of posts in generating interactions with a brand), then it’s important to understand that this figure incorporates new page ‘Likes’. As such, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the effectiveness of your daily post. So while a goal has been set (great!), and a KPI has been set (fabulous!), the wrong figures have been used, and the statistic isn’t fit for purpose.
In the end, I don’t mind what the KPI is, or what targets are set, as long as they are meaningful. If your KPIs tell you a story and help you learn why you smashed some of your goals, and why you missed others, then I think you have a winning formula that will allow your brand to keep moving forwards.
Next time someone sets a KPI for you, ask yourself if this just sounds impressive – or if it is really going to help you improve and grow.