I created a new way to measure my social media activity while under the influence of… a chocolate donut 🍩
Why the need for a new social media measurement model, especially one inspired by fried dough? I will get to the donut later, but I will first establish what my new social media measurement model is not.
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Why Do I Need a New Social Media Measurement Model?
My donut inspired social media measurement model does not replace business (sales) related metrics. Rather, it is designed for people like me who do not sell anything on social media. I use social media to share my thoughts and point of view. I need a measurement model to help me understand if my ‘thought sharing’ efforts are successful when I have no sales to track.
Vanity metrics such as likes and impressions on their own are not sufficient for me because they do not reflect the effort I put into my writing. Plus, I believe those metrics in isolation are harmful to my writing.
For example, I might receive a lot of likes on a post that contains little substance. Does a lot of likes indicate it is a ‘good’ post? If my focus is solely on receiving likes, am I extending myself as a writer? I do not believe so, and I no longer want to associate the dopamine rush from each social media like notification as evidence I shared a thoughtful post. I feel so strongly about this, I have switched off those notifications on my phone.
Vanity metrics such as ‘likes‘ and ‘impressions‘ on their own are not sufficient for me because they do not reflect the effort I put into my writingTim Horan
It is time for a new social media measurement model where post likes, or reactions only contribute to part of the story rather than dominate it.
Okay, Okay… Just Get to the Donut Already!
The last time I ate a chocolate donut, I was struck by how pleasing its iced form was to my eye.
Each time I took a bite my taste buds were rewarded but the donut’s appearance suffered after I mauled it. A half-eaten donut does not look as good as an untouched one.
Inspiration hit me like a shower of sprinkles from heaven – I could use a donut to represent my social media activity. A ‘perfect’ month of activity would be represented by a whole donut, ready to eat. Any activity that fell short of the mark would be represented by a donut with bites taken out of it. Restoring the donut to its initial glory would be motivation enough for me to do ‘better’ on social media next month.
The Executive Social Donut (ESD) Is Born
The first step was to bestow a name on my new social media measurement model. I wanted it to sound exclusive and fancy, so I came up with Executive Social Donut (ESD).
The name seems appropriate as a measure of success because a discerning executive expects nothing less than the full donut experience. The last thing a high-powered executive wants to see is a half-eaten donut on the boardroom table.
ESD, the abbreviation of Executive Social Donut, also sounds like a gateway drug cooked up in a lab to inspire a new way to think about social media (which it is!)
The next step was to define the components of ‘successful’ social media activity for myself. I settled on four components, so I divided the donut into four categories. Social media activity which merits a perfect ESD score of 10 or a ‘complete donut’ would need to contain an equal mix of the four content quadrants pictured below.
Each ESD content component forms the ‘dough’ of my donut. I define the components as follows.
Engagement Quality encompasses likes, comments, reshares, and impressions (post views). The Engagement Quality metric is boosted when I create posts that encourage user interactions beyond a simple like. This part of the donut places higher value on comments than likes to reflect the time a reader invests to comment on my post.
However, because all post engagements are only a component (and not a complete picture) of my successful social media activity, Engagement Quality can only contribute up to a maximum score of 2.5, or a quarter of my Executive Social Donut (ESD). Obviously, one comment does not equal an Engagement Quality score of one – that would be unworkable. Thus, the values I have assigned to different types of engagements are fractions of Engagement Quality. I will not bore you with the math!
Steps Outside Comfort Zone
Steps Outside Comfort Zone encompasses posts I make where I put myself forward. This metric is positively influenced when I share relatable anecdotes and experiences of challenges met and problems I solved in my life or profession. ‘Successful’ social media activity for me must include a balance of posts which capture who I am rather than a polished image. Obviously, this can cause personal discomfort, but I feel it is an important component.
Like Engagement Quality, The Steps Outside Comfort Zone metric contributes up to a maximum score of 2.5, or a quarter of my ESD.
Shares Useful and Actionable Content
Shares Useful and Actionable Content encompasses posts I make where I offer practical advice to my target audience. Before I make a post, I should always ask myself: who is the audience for this content and what can I share with them to improve their own work? The Shares Useful and Actionable metric is not a claim that I am an expert on every aspect of my industry, rather, I focus on one or two areas I can deeply explore and offer lessons or guidance on.
Like Engagement Quality and the Steps Outside Comfort Zone metrics, Shares Useful and Actionable Content contributes to a maximum score of 2.5, or a quarter of my ESD.
Raises the Quality of Industry-Specific Conversations
Raises the Quality of Industry-Specific Conversations encompasses posts I make which specifically “talk shop” about my profession. Unlike the previous metric, I do not necessarily offer advice or answers, but I do inspire conversation. Raises the Quality of Industry-Specific Conversations also builds positive sentiment around my profession and organization.
Like the Engagement Quality, Steps Outside Comfort Zone, and Shares Useful and Actionable Content metrics, Raises the Quality of Industry-Specific Conversations contributes to a maximum score of 2.5, or a quarter of my ESD.
Time to Use the ESD to Measure My Social Media Activity
The beauty of the ESD measurement model is it can be applied to any social media platform. I chose to apply it to the LinkedIn posts I created over the past 12 months.
To apply the ESD, I created a spreadsheet to categorize each post I made as either:
✔ or ✖: Steps Outside Comfort Zone
✔ or ✖: Shares Useful and Actionable Content
✔ or ✖: Raises the Quality of Industry-Specific Conversations
… or a combination of all three. For example, a post could be categorized as both Steps Outside Comfort Zone and Shares Useful and Actionable Content, but only if I extended myself as a writer and wrote it to qualify as both.
Some posts I made over the past 12 months did not qualify as any of the above three. However, every post is audited for Engagement Quality, the fourth ESD component. As stated earlier, because Engagement Quality can only contribute up to a quarter of a potential perfect post score, I cannot game the model by only chasing post likes or reactions.
After I applied my formula to all the posts recorded in my spreadsheet, I output the below chart. It shows how my ESD score tracked over the last 12 months when assigned to my LinkedIn posts.
Even though I created the ESD measurement model, I never achieved a perfect score of 10 in the last 12 months. Surprisingly, my 12-month average ESD score was only 5.1. Another way to summarize this is my LinkedIn content performance, as rated by the ESD, makes me a ‘D’ student!
The below chart shows my monthly ESD scores separated into the four content components of the model.
To create posts that maximize the four content components of the ESD means achieving an above average monthly ESD score will always be a stretch goal. Every time I write and publish a post, I am rated for:
(0.0 – 2.5) Engagement Quality
(0.0 – 2.5) Steps Outside Comfort Zone
(0.0 – 2.5) Shares Useful and Actionable Content
(0.0 – 2.5) Raises the Quality of Industry-Specific Conversations
Thus, an above average score in all four components will result in a better monthly ESD score out of 10.
My best ESD score was 6.39 in April 2021. As shown in the below chart, Steps Outside Comfort Zone and Raises the Quality of Industry-Specific Conversations were above average but Shares Useful and Actionable Content and Engagement Quality suffered in comparison (2.0 + 2.0 + 1.5 + 0.89 = 6.39).
Now let’s see what my best month (April 2021) looks like as a chocolate donut, pictured below.
I would prefer to have my social media posts translate into a round, unblemished chocolate donut at the end of the month rather than this mauled piece of iced dough!
The above summary slide shows me what I need to do if I want more donut. I must pay more attention to creating posts that share useful and actionable content. Also, as much as I would like to ignore likes, reactions, comments, etc., I cannot ignore them entirely as they can potentially contribute up to 25% of my ESD score.
Why I Like My New Social Media Measurement Model
The Executive Social Donut (ESD) works well for writers and bloggers like me for a simple reason. The model provides a clear explanation of how to construct an effective social media post. Based on the four ESD components, a clear explanation is:
The ESD makes me accountable for my writing success by using the previous statement to rate my efforts. If I want to be a better and more engaging communicator on social media, I must stretch myself to include all components of the ESD in my writing.
The act of building a model to identify what success looks like for me and holding myself to account with it is addictive… just like a chocolate donut.