Social Media Dashboard Design

Before you go running off to design a social media dashboard, lets walk through a basic strategy on how a functional dashboard works.

A mistake that I repeatedly see is when an organization implements a flashy thingamijig expecting that a wondrous variety of displays and lights are going to provide valuable business results.

Think about the basic design

One of the most common types of information displays we are all familiar with is the instrument panel in our car.

We typically have a few basic indicators:

social media metrics and dashboardsRPM – a clear indication of how hard our engine is working. We can immediately see when we are pushing the vehicle too far ‘into the red.’

Spedometer – pretty simple, from 0 to 130. In most cars this is the largest display because it is important that we take into consideration the ‘legal variable’ of the speed limit.

Engine Temp – most of us know that this is a pretty critical measurement. If it goes into the red we have a serious issue.

Most importantly a Gas Light Indicatorno gas, no go.

1- Keep It Simple

When designing your social media dashboard it is important to remember that different types of users require different levels of understanding.

The key word is understanding.

If an operator doesn’t know what the blinking light represents…
the blinking light is nearly useless.

We have all had our car dashboard display a new light and thought to ourselves
“what in the world does that mean???”

The resulting confusion is a critical issue in using a social media dashboard.
We have to think about the speed of the information we are tracking and how quickly we can change directions in our business.

If we know it takes days or weeks to make a turn; we need dashboard indicators that give us insight before we pass the point of no return.

2- Understand the Point of No Return.

If our business is on a collision course with disaster we need to know how to maneuver around danger and capture nearby opportunities.

We also need to know when our social media dashboard is telling us about a metric that can sometimes be ignored (the speed limit) and when it is alerting us to a critical failure (no gas.)

This requires that we apply a reasonable framework to our social media dashboard that includes velocity, mass, traction, and acceleration factors. Each of these factors has multiple sample questions:

  • Velocity = how fast are we traveling? Does our business model shift in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, seasons, or years?
  • Mass = how big are we? When we are trying to apply force to alter our course, are we capable of affecting the entire organization or do we need to move individual parts?
  • Traction = what is the maximum amount of force we can apply to change our business? When we apply too much force too quickly, do we cause collateral damage to our assets?
  • Acceleration = once we have changed direction, what price have we paid for losing velocity and how long will it take to get back to full speed?

3- Understand the Universe

Many of the social media dashboard services on the web focus too much on examining qualities about our own organizations instead of examining strategic factors about competitors, partners, and the marketplaces.

Core Issue: looking at ourselves in the mirror is a vanity play.

In a car you dashboard is a tool that is surrounded by a windshield and multiple mirrors to see our environment. These additional viewpoints are the factors that define how valuable our dashboard metrics are at any given time.

If we don’t compare ourselves with the marketplace and consider our share of voice, we probably don’t have a full comprehension of competitive velocity, mass, traction, and acceleration. By knowing the marketplace and where are competitors are heading we can plan strategic routes that allow us to capture obvious low-hanging fruit and plan for strategic missions that take a long-term and committed route to places our competitors don’t know about.

4- Understand the Game

In car race we have dozens of other vehicles on the track.

We need to understand all sorts of ‘game mechanics’ to avoid collisions and maintain our lead against the right competitors.

Certain assets build upon each other and make it impossible for competitors to effectively move around the track.

The more we understand about the way the game changes, the easier it is to know when our vehicle and team can tactically gain an advantage going into a sharp corner.


The rules of social media are bound to how we communicate and respond to market conditions as people. This means that both internal and external audiences can shift in a matter of minutes and rewrite the ‘rules’ of the game.

We need to be ready for the next flat tire or unforeseen mishap.

  • Keep It Simple
  • Understand Your Point of No Return
  • Understand the Universe
  • Understand the Game

Bonus Tip: always double-check your tire pressure.
Teams always perform at an optimal level of pressure.