G.E.R.M. – the right communication metrics to track with digital media

The G.E.R.M. model (Getting Going, Engagement, Reliable Reach, Monetisation) focuses your scarce resources by making you track and evaluate only the metrics relevant to your media channel’s stage of maturity right now – this forces you to only analyse what you plan to optimise.

Keeping track of metrics on your digital channels is hard, really hard. For one, there are just so many channels (web, twitter, mobile, facebook, email) and then for each there is a different set of metrics (visitors, retweets, downloads, likes and so on).

Who is to say which metrics are worth tracking and are actually important?

Today, we all default to tracking the “vanity metric” which is reach. The number of people your channel purports to reach. It’s a vanity metric because it is easy to track and makes us feel important – how many visitors, how many fans, how many followers, email subscribers… But vanity metrics say nothing about the health of our channel.

  • What’s the point of 1 million followers if you never tweet?
  • What’s the point of 10,000 fans if they never engage?
  • What’s the point of 1,000 downloads if they never buy?

That’s just it, vanity reach metrics alone are not enough to create a successful media channel (and that applies to old media just as much as new.) To be successful you need to track the other metrics that matter to you.

This is where GERM comes in.

It helps you arrange your metric tracking into four sensible buckets each applying to a different stage of your channels development.


This will free you up because the GERM model requires only that you look at the metric of the current stage. If you’re just getting going, you don’t need to measure whether you’re monetising. If you’re focusing on building engagement, you don’t need to worry about growing your reach.

This will give your evaluation efforts, a real focus on what matters right now for your channel.

Let’s have a look at the four stages in detail and give some examples of metrics applicable for each stage. We’ll use Twitter as our example channel here but it could be any media channel. The principles are the same.


Getting Going

At the getting going stage, your channel is in its infancy. Right now your job is to create content consistently. Can you set a content volume target and reach it, day in day out. It’s more important that you are consistent in when you post than how much content you post. There are plenty of monthly magazines out there still going strong.

At the Getting Going stage your metrics are all about how consistent you are: how many tweets per day, blog posts per month for example.


In engagement the question is really – are we relevant to our target audience. Every media channel needs a target audience (if you don’t have one defined, go back to the drawing board and describe it now!). Engagement is all about measuring whether the content you are producing is engaging and interesting to your target audience.

On Twitter we might count number of retweets, particularly those from people we see as our target audience. At a live event this might be number of questions, on the web it’s average dwell time.

Reliable Reach & Virality

Do you have a reliable audience that is tuning in to your media channel on a regular basis? This is all about creating a reliable reach – people who are listening to what you have to say. Virality is about ensuring that your reach is growing, ideally through word of mouth which costs you nothing.

Metrics to measure when you are focusing on your reach include bounce rate if you’re on the web, % growth in number of followers per week if you’re on Twitter.


Fourth and finally it’s time to think about monetisation. Are you reaping the financial rewards you want from your media channel? And in this context monetisation is any business objective you have for your media channel – it could be to view some adverts, make a donation, subscribe to a list or even visit another media channel you own.

The exact metrics you measure here will depend on your specific business needs. Most people don’t monetise directly on social media so the monetisation metric on Twitter tends to be the number of referrals it has driven to the website.

So there you have it – GERM – a nice easy to remember acronym to help guide you in building an effective media channel.

Does it work?

I’ve started using it myself and it has exposed a key weakness in my personal social media brand – particularly on Twitter – I am simply not consistent enough with my posting. Some weeks I post over 20 times, some nothing at all – clearly this isn’t a real media channel.

I’ve now started to use Buffer to pre-load and schedule tweets which has definitely helped me. Next up I’m doing strategy work to ensure that I’m tweeting about the topics that are going to be of interest to my target audience.

Does Rise have any free tools to help?

Well funnily enough there is the free Twitter Activity Club to do the tracking of tweet consistency (for those at the Getting Going stage) for you. Each week it emails with a count of tweets and average tweets per day. It then compares your work rate with the previous week to give you a measure of whether you’re getting better or worse.

I recommend you join the Twitter Activity Club Rise board with your Twitter account and email address and you’ll start seeing your weekly score come through. It’s a great way to get going and to measure what’s important first when it comes to your media channel metrics.



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