Most marketers approach social media in the same way they've approached broadcast media for decades. And that's true of measurement as well. But with social media, the old rules don't apply.

Traditionally, marketers focused on quantity metrics like impressions. As the Web emerged as a marketing platform, we translated that approach to digital, emphasizing quantity metrics like unique visitors and page views. Later, as the Web matured into a bona-fide business channel, transaction became important: sales conversion rate, average order value, and so on.

Web analytics, like much of the marketing world, has tended to focus on the short term, measuring marketing to do better marketing.

But social media is different than transaction, and it calls for a different approach to measurement. Today we look at the quality of relationships, experiences, and, yes, transactions, and we look at them over time. Unique visitors, for example, is still an important metric, but so is registered users. And more important still are metrics like return visitor sign-in.

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