When Measurement Misleads: A Lesson From Triberr’s Downtime

I’ve have been using Triberr for about two months. Last week, Triberr was down for upgrades. All of a sudden, my posts, normally shared by 25 to 30 tribe members, didn’t have any automated support.

What’s Triberr? It’s a platform for forming tribes of bloggers that support each other by tweeting the posts of other tribe members.

Over the last month, the traffic here from Triberr has steadily increased. I was hooked on the numbers and started to see the increasing traffic numbers as success. But it wasn’t my success, it was Pam Moore’s and Michael Brenner’s success. I was simply fortunate to have been invited into their tribes.

Suddenly, despite the warnings I give others, it happened to me. I was focused on the metrics and forgot why I started blogging. I let measurement trump purpose.

So here are two pieces of advice I’m giving everyone, including myself, this week.

Evaluate Purpose First

Is your business constantly moving towards its purpose? Or is traffic to your blog, total revenue, or even quarterly profitability obscuring the focus on your vision for long term success?

For many of us, this requires dropping hard metrics and focusing on anecdotes or soft measures. You may look at metrics daily or weekly. To keep your purpose in focus, you need to revisit your purpose, not only your metrics, with each decision.

Keep Measurement In Its Place

Shannon, April 13, 2011Measurement is critical to marketing, but most marketing measurement is like measuring with a speedometer. It says how fast you are going, but by itself, it doesn’t prove you are moving in the right direction.

A focus on your purpose ensures you are moving in the right direction. Nearly any measurement, even revenue, can blind a business to true purpose over time. [If this seems like an extreme statement, consider corporate divestitures of profitable businesses.]

As Neal Schaffer points out in his post Four Things Triberr Reminded Me About Twitter, Triberr is a tool. I will continue using Triberr, but I am refocusing on my purpose, not my measurement, and remembering the traffic Triberr drives is not just about the traffic.

Step away from your measurement for a minute and ask yourself about your purpose, not just your measurement.

  • Is your blog filled with how-to posts that get retweets and traffic, but your goal was to create discussion around difficult challenges?
  • Is your community, measured on size and engagement, turning to hot topics that draw a participatory audience instead of serving your niche?
  • Is a short term revenue or profitability focus keeping you from pursuing the long term vision for your business?

Your turn. It happened to me, right here with this blog. Has measurement trumped purpose in your programs or have you witnessed this in the marketing you see? Share your story or reaction in the comments below or with me on Twitter.

About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my Digital B2B Marketing blog.

9 Responses to When Measurement Misleads: A Lesson From Triberr’s Downtime

  1. Dan Cristo says:

    I love the part about how the speedometer doesn’t prove you’re moving in the right direction. Great analogy.

    • Thanks! And finding time to read and comment on a blog after the crazy Triberr week I’m sure you have had? I’m impressed! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, I appreciate it!

  2. standing, applauding. Bonus points for leading an examined life + course correction.

  3. Brilliant. “I let measurement trump purpose.” I, for one, have certainly been guilty of that and appreciate the reminder.

  4. Eric,

    Great post. I have been holding off on my “I love Triberr” post for some time and you have really hit on my main conclusion: Triberr is about the Tribe!!! NOT the ReTweets or shares.

    I am meeting some of the best people there and building community with like-minded people. To me that is why I started blogging and that is why I will continue to use Triberr (and Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin, etc).

    Great post, amazing insight and thanks for the mention. Truly honored!



    • Michael, thanks for the comment, and for my initial start with Triberr. As you said, I’ve met some great people, through your tribe and Pam’s, and when Triberr was down, I was going to their blogs to look for their latest posts. For me, it is about the opportunity to have meaningful conversations and establish relationships with other folks, within a Tribe or people that find me because of the Tribe’s sharing. Next time my numbers start to climb, I just need to remember that. 😉

  5. Eric…This is probably my fave of your posts. Great analogies and guidance. Never thought I’d see the words “Keep Measurement in it’s Place” under your byline! ;-). Bravo. Writing about your passions does that. Metrics Schmetrics….at least until the boss asks for the spreadsheet. You and Michael B both convinced me to take a look at Triberr, despite my social overload at the moment.

    Nice job and keep writing.

    • Wow, thanks Mark, I appreciate the kind words. Who knew it would take me forgetting my own instinct to put out a good blog post. 🙂

      I’m still a numbers junkie, measurement has a place well above recycling bin, but yes, I let go of measurement as the ultimate end game a long time ago (or at least I thought I did).

      Let me know if you want a Triberr invite, happy to send one your way.

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