My client wants me to increase their Facebook fans by 40 per cent next year

My client wants me to increase their Facebook fans by 40 per cent next year but are going to invest the same amount into Facebook as they did this year. How do I tell them that this is not a realistic KPI?

This is a question I get asked often. My answer typically is:

Tell me more about how their Facebook fan numbers will impact the client’s business? Are they planning on investing in some F-Commerce development? How will this make them money?

I must admit to being from the David Ogilvy school of thought: “We sell or else”. The measurement of success for us must be that we help our clients sell. Sure, the sell could be an idea rather than a product sometimes, but ultimately, our clients’ businesses exist to sell.

Welcome to capitalism.

In my experience the easiest way to work this out is to clarify some times:

  • Metric – a set of figures or statistics that measure results (Oxford) or stuff that can be measured
  • KPI or Key Performance Indicator – a metric or indicator that measures the success or failure of a business activity, it can be a strategic or tactical in nature. (As defined by me based on the Wikipedia entry): stuff that can be measured that really affects your business performance.
  • In short, a KPI is a metric but not all metrics should be a DKa metric doesn’t have to be a KPI.

If our the objective for an organisation is to Sell More Stuff (SMS) or make money then we have to make the KPIs things that are impact your bottom line. This can be:

  1. sales and leads
  2. percentage defects
  3. mean time to repair
  4. brand preference
  5. prompted and unprompted awareness and
  6. the list goes on.

This is more important than the number of fans. However, as discussed in a previous post, the number of fans matters. But it should be a diagnostic metric, rather than a KPI.

Diagnostic metrics are the metrics tell you roughly where potential issues are and they can be the levers that you can pull to tune  campaign peformance.

To get to the KPI get as close to the revenue streams as you can. Generally, my preference in descending order is:

  1. Revenue attributable to social
  2. Leads attributable to social
  3. Referrals
  4. Share of positive voice
  5. the list goes on.

And for the KPI, just pick one. I’ve seen lists of 10 KPIs and it’s totally unmanageable, unfocused and not a very good use of resources (budget or otherwise). On the other hand I might track a bunch of diagnostic metrics like fans, followers, retweets and comments. When 10 of these are woven into a picture, they become a very good indicator on campaign or program health. But they don’t necessarily change the business. You could have 1,000,000 followers but if they contribute nothing to your bottom line then is it really a key indicator of your business performance?

To clients who read this I say keep your agency honest and keep them working for your business. Make us earn our keep.

To colleagues who have clients asking about Facebook Fan numbers as KPIs, talk them through and find out what their real objectives are. I’ll leave you with David Ogilvy’s “We Sell or Else” call to arms.

Hoc opus numquam perfectum

Hoc opus numquam perfectum translates to English as this work is never finished. It is my invitation to you dear reader to read, rebut or renovate on my ideas to make them better.


  1. Kristin says

    An awesome post as usual and I loved the old video of David – I’ll have to share that one

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