The Most Important Social Business Metrics

July 12, 2011

I rarely make a major purchasing decision anymore without first sourcing it in my social networks. Even minor decisions like where to eat sushi for lunch are made better when I first check with friends on Facebook. Social business sourcing helps me make better decisions, which saves me time and money.

What role did traditional marketing play in my decision to follow my friends’ advice and eat lunch at Hiroba Sushi last week? I think very little. The only reason people in my network recommended this place in response to my direct inquiry was they had eaten there themselves and knew the business was a winner. It was operational excellence, not saavy marketing, which led me to spend $48 for lunch that day.

When asked, my friends volunteered to publically put their brand on Hiroba’s brand and trusted that Hiroba would not disappoint. My social network connections did not put their faith in Hiroba, because faith is a belief in something you have not seen. Trust, on the other hand, is a prediction based on experience, and they all knew from personal experience that I too would probably enjoy Hiroba as much as they did.

They were right, and I was glad I asked.

People talk about your business, which is nothing new. What is new is the way they talk about you and your business, and the speed with which what they say about you can reach many more people than ever before and impact your revenue stream. For years I taught the marketing principle that a dissatisfied customer would likely tell around 20 people about the bad experience. Now, a pissed off customer can quickly and easily share their bad experience with thousands via their connected web of social networks.

The new realities of social business make the basics of business excellence more important than ever before. If you have not designed a system to consistently impress your employees and enable them to in turn consistently impress your customers, you are making a serious strategic mistake.

The most important social business metrics are not things like fans, followers, reach, likes or leads. The most important metrics for businesses that want to fully leverage the strategic potential of social business are employee and customer satisfaction. What they say about you in their increasingly connected social networks is shareable and trusted, and that makes it more important than anything you will ever say about yourself. If you’ve made their satisfaction merely an act of faith, you better be prepared for social business hell.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (12)

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  1. John Spence says:

    Brett – you absolutely nailed it here – your assessment is spot on and I could not agree more strongly. I think you will get a kick out of a video I posted on my Facebook last week that is almost point-for-point hitting on the same key issues that you’ve outlined here. Take a look – I think you and I see things very much the same:

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks for sharing that video on my blog, John! I hope folks check it out and like your page on Facebook. Good business basics are more critical than ever. Thanks! Bret

  2. John Spence says:

    I am sorry the my voice-recognition system gave your name an extra “t” == Bret == and the video on my facebook is the “Four Foundations of Business Excellence” Thanks again for a fantastic post — I have put it on my FaceBook, Tweeted it and shared it on LinkedIn — I would consider it a “Must Read” – extremely well played.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks, John! Bret

  3. Jessica says:

    First, Hiroba has good food for sushi in Reno and the customer is service is usually decent.

    Second, I really value the advice I’m given from people using social media. If I make an inquiry about a company and I hear bad things about it I won’t go to that place. I am really starting to use Twitter for spreading the word about places around town and I think it’s important for companies to realize that social media is powerful for their business. Unfortunately, I have seen many businesses fail in this area, even when I contact them directly on Twitter. Very sad.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Hiroba rocks! Your observations about social business saavy are consistent with mine. I think the competitive space is still very wide open. Thanks, Jessica! Bret

  4. Excellent insight especially for businesses with their head in the sand when it comes to social media participation. To spreads the word I have added a link to the article at, tweeted to followers and shared with LinkedIn connections & Facebook Fans.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Daniel, and thanks for the kind words and links! Bret

  5. I think we should design a workshop/seminar and call it “How to Stay Out of Social Media Hell” – love the post Bret!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Let’s do it! Thanks, KC. Bret

  6. Great post Bret, and you are absolutely correct in all areas. I care more about what one of my connections tells me than any advertising.

    I do wonder how much of this is “new”. It’s like we’re returning to the pre-industrial age village life where your business is made, or broken, on the backs of word-of-mouth talk about it.

    And I love the fact that your metrics are age-old metrics that really do matter in all companies.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Not much new here, Tim, except the speed that word of mouth travels. Thanks! Bret