Notice the headline doesn’t say “How to Score Social Media Activity” but “How to Think About Scoring Social Media Activity.”

Before assigning values to various social-media activities, it is important to think about them properly.

Assigning value to social-media activity can be tricky business. Clearly shares and follows have value, but how much?

Giving social-media activities too much value can result in more marketing resources being put against the channel than it warrants. Likewise, failing to assign enough value to a social-media activity can result in wasteful neglect.

Also, it is important to score the various social-media activities relative to one another. If you’re a business-to-business marketer, for example, a LinkedIn share will likely be more valuable to you than a Facebook share.

We’re all familiar with using metrics like revenue per email to score our marketing efforts. Scoring social media activities doesn’t take the place of traditional metrics like these. It is simply something we can layer on to them to get a more complete picture of our email marketing.

Scoring social media gives us a way to tally things that are beneficial but aren’t necessarily driving a sale today, but hopefully will help drive a sale—or whatever your goal is—sometime in the future.

The trick is coming up with those values.

My first piece of advice regarding valuing social-media activity is not to place a dollar value on any of it. While social-media activity is valuable, it’s not necessarily driving immediate revenue. Assigning a dollar value to it can give you a false sense of success.

I recommend scoring social-media activity using numerical values, say one to five points.

The goal of most social-media marketing programs is—or at least it should be—to get people to opt-in to your email marketing program. So while gaining a follower is valuable (since it may, down the road, lead to an opt-in), it’s typically less valuable than getting readers to share your content or promotion with their social media contacts, which could lead to multiple immediate opt-ins to your email list (since everything that you make sharable should include an option to opt-in for email).

When the people on your list share your content with their followers, they are sharing with people who are often similar to them and, as a result, stand a good chance of having similar marketing profiles to your best customers.

Of course, you can’t know how many followers someone who has shared your content has. But you can rank social-media shares relative to one another.

For example, if your customer base is made up of consumer buyers of high end home furnishings and design, you might score a share on Houzz (a social network for this audience) a five, a share on Facebook a three and a share on LinkedIn a one.

Besides helping allocate social-media marketing resources more efficiently, valuing social-media activity properly also offers a secondary way to assess your email efforts.

Say you’ve got two campaigns that are performing statistically similarly from a response-and-revenue perspective. If one of those campaigns is significantly outperforming the other share-wise on a social-media platform you have placed a high value on, that campaign should be declared the winner.

If the goal of a campaign is awareness or extending brand reach, social-media sharing can even be a key performance indicator.

It all depends on your goals.

If you have a non-revenue primary goal for your email, social-media sharing is usually a better way than clicks to define success or failure. If revenue is your primary goal, social media is a secondary metric.

Remember, it’s not what value you place on various social-media activities, it’s how you think about them and how you value them relative to one another that counts.