Let’s face it, since the emergence of social media, marketers have been struggling to find the best ways to measure whether or not their investment in it is paying off. With all the simple measurement tools available, emphasis continues to be placed on baseline ROI and industry-standard Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). However, we cannot forget that the value of social media isn’t simply based on standard measures, it’s about meeting your defined strategic goals. By focusing on how your creative intends to engage your audience, you can discover company-defined KPIs that reveal true social media success.

Cory Treffiletti hit the nail on the head when he explained that “the industry can provide guidance, but it can’t do the work for you.” Due to the importance placed on ROI and lack of focus on each individual company’s defined goals for their social media strategy, marketers are flocking to various measurement tools to utilize metrics they’ve been told are important. It’s an issue of standard measurement versus customized KPIs, such as positive brand endorsements regarding a product launch or link sharing regarding new customer care initiatives. Although certain tools can be useful in tracking basic metrics, such as interactions and community size, defining social media success beyond that is up to you!

For example, Vitrue’s Social Page Evaluator tool, which estimates the dollar value of a Facebook page based on a variety of metrics, is just that – a tool. It measures a small, ROI-focused piece of the larger puzzle. The problem is that it’s giving companies the opportunity to neglect what is important, the true value and overview of their efforts, and what will actually impact their success. And While Vitrue admits that their Evaluator won’t give a well-rounded success measure of any page, baseline ROI still appears to be the driving force for measurement considering 27,000 Facebook pages were evaluated within the first 36 hours of launch.

We’re not knocking tools that help measure the value or size of your social presence. What we’re saying is that the industry can’t tell you what is important for tracking YOUR success. It’s time to look at your current social strategies and define the goals that serve your needs. Keeping these goals in mind, you will be able to handpick the KPIs to use when monitoring if you’re achieving what you set out to do.

As social media continues to change, it will be up to you to determine the metrics most relevant to properly tracking your brand’s investment in social media.