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When metrics don’t tell the whole story


When metrics don’t tell the whole story

Picture of Adam Thomas
Adam Thomas — Director
January 09, 2017

A slow start, a promising bump, and then the depressing plateau of toiling obscurity. My more successful posts beat this entire enterprise single-handedly.

But this is one of those occasions when I feel it’s safe to ignore traditional content metrics. Why? Because I’m getting a lot more value than minutes read or story completion % can measure. And I had different goals for this thing.

Reaching the right people

Despite having a small team, this blog was still one of the most effective ways of reaching them. It’s a nicer, more contemplative reading environment than an email inbox, and that leads to more consideration being given to the ideas within.

Not only that, but lots of people outside the organisation have told me personally that they’ve been reading. That’s not showing up in the shares or responses, but I’ve had more one-on-one conversations about these posts than any of my other writing. Conversations count.

Leading by example

It’s hard not to be impressed when Mark Zuckerberg shares Facebook’s secrets with all his employees, and almost none of it leaks.

Fear of transparency is totally understandable, but ill-founded. I wrote about culture in my last post. Culture is not created, it emerges from habits and accepted best practices so, rather than talking about open communication, I’m putting it into action. Eventually, I hope these posts will even help us hire like-minded people. Just do it.

Formulating ideas

Harder to quantify than anything else, but this is the one that gives me most bang for my buck. Writing here helps me consolidate ideas, test hypothesises, share insights, and apply some gentle public pressure to my promises.

Along the way, I’m hoping a regular writing schedule is improving my form too. I’ve still not made my peace with the Oxford comma, but we’re getting there. Practice makes perfect.

How to measure impact?

Is it possible to convey the value this blog brings in numbers? Medium says they “believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention.” They’re recalibrating their organisation around this.

We are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people.

Medium’s metrics of time spent reading and story completion always made more sense than pure views. But even they are admitting that’s not enough.

Measuring engagement can be superseded by metrics that indicate a range of things from loyalty to impact, depending on your goals. Measuring value doesn’t have to be that challenging. But deciding what’s valuable? Well, that’s something else…


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