Today, social media is ingrained in our lives.
For many, the first thing they do after opening their eyes in the morning is open their Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter app to see what happened overnight.
Because of this, it is a valuable tool for communicating and building personal relationships with your audience, but it can also be a very helpful factor in increasing your revenue, reach, and overall ROI.
The only way to ensure this, however, is by looking beyond your fan, follower, or "like" counts to track the right metrics.
Your social media metrics need to be circled around generating new traffic to your site, increasing lead generation, and expanding your brand. These are what ultimately impact your bottom line and make any initiative worth it.
You can measure dozens of different metrics on social media, but with ROI in mind, you really only need to worry about those that answer the following questions:
Everything else is really just a vanity metric. That being said, there are four main areas your social media KPIs should be focusing on: engagement, reach, leads, and customers.
Engagement is, hands down, the No. 1 area that you should be concerned with on social media. It is the catalyst for improvement in all the other social media metrics we'll discuss.
Simply put, engagement measures the amount of likes, shares, and comments that your social updates receive.
Having a large reach with low engagement is a bad sign because it shows that you don't have a marketing message or content that resonates.
Reaching millions of people means nothing if they aren't interested in what you offer.
As long as your audience is engaged, no matter how small that audience is, it will grow organically and generate more leads.
Plus, on most social media platforms, engagement plays a major role in how many people actually even ever see your update (a.k.a. your reach — see focus area No. 2).
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter see engagement as a sign of quality and popularity. The more interactions your content receives, the more feeds Facebook and Instagram will filter it out too. Similarly, the more retweets or likes a tweet gets, the more Twitter feeds it will hit.
The actual metrics that you can measure will vary by social media platform, but typically include the following:
Link clicks are reflective of the quality of the title and image included in your post. Of course, your raving fans will click on everything you share, but the majority of people (especially new people) are only going to click on posts that interest them.
A large number of clicks with very few likes and shares shows that your post got their attention but didn't deliver the exceptional quality needed for the viewer to engage.
Great overall engagement with a low amount of clicks indicates that you need to work on how you pitch your content by testing different titles or visuals.
Likes lead to more attention because people naturally gravitate toward things that are popular. More likes also signal to most platform algorithms that this particular content deserves a higher spot in search results.
These days, hitting "like" on a post is a passive, mindless action. Likes are good and you definitely want them, but sharing is a conscious decision. When someone shares your post (or retweets, reposts, etc.), they are giving a personal recommendation to their friends, colleagues, and family. Because of this, shares are a great indication of the quality of your work.
Similarly, if your content has a high number of “saves” on Instagram, this signals that people found it so valuable, they want to return to it later.
The point of being on social media is to be — well, social.
Interesting, relevant content sparks a conversation. Even if people leave critical comments, you're better off than having no comments at all.
Praise, criticism, and general discussion are all helpful for improving your marketing, but silence is not. Getting comments on your posts is a reliable sign that your content is hitting all the right points of interest.
Tags or mentions show that people are having a conversation about your brand even when you're not in the room. This is another social media KPI that really focuses on your relevance, because it shows that you are maintaining top-of-mind awareness.
Not all social media platforms will provide this metric, but if it's there, it's worth your attention. Many social media platforms are used as search engines for brand research today. There will be plenty of people that follow you, but they may never visit your profile.
The people who are just starting to scope out your business, however, will definitely visit your profile. This metric isn't as important as the others, as you can't really measure intent to buy, but profile visits do indicate interest in your brand beyond your latest post.
An active/engaged follower is considered to be someone who has logged in and interacted with your content within the past 30 days. Unfortunately, for most brands, the majority of people who "like" or follow your page are unlikely to visit it regularly, let alone check out its content.
Doing this on most networks may be a challenge, but thanks to tools like InsTrack, it can be a lot easier platform to platform.
InsTrack is a handy free tool for identifying your most active followers so you can perhaps reach out to them for feedback.
Reach is an old-school marketing metric that still remains important today. It indicates how far your message is actually traveling — how many eyes it's getting in front of.
Measuring reach on social media can be misleading at times as it only shows how many people potentially saw your post or that it was made available. Unlike engagement, which has definitive answers such as x amount of likes, reach is really just an estimate.
You can measure reach by tracking the following metrics:
The total number of people following your brand on social media indicates your reach without any engagement. This is the total number of people that could see your post and have actively said they want to.
Impressions show how many times your post showed up in someone's newsfeed or timeline, either because they are already following you or because someone they know has liked or shared your content.
This doesn't mean that for every impression someone actually looked at your post or even noticed it. This just means that they had a chance to. Though vague, a higher number is always better.
This is a huge one. What percentage of the traffic to your website is coming from social media? If you're investing a good amount of time and effort into your social media content, you'll want to make sure that this number reflects that.
You can easily identify this number if you’re using HubSpot. All you have to do is visit the sources section of reports. See if a good chunk of your traffic is coming from social media. If not, you might just have to expand the reach of your posts.
Consider using a social media publishing tool like SproutSocial or Hootsuite.
Once your social media accounts start gaining traction, it's easy to get caught up in how many likes and shares you're getting. It feels good to see people enjoying your content, but what about the bottom line?
To ensure you are getting the best ROI from your social media, you have to ask the tough question: How many of these engaged fans are actually interested in making a purchase from my company?
You might have an enormous following on Instagram because people love your photos, but how does that translate to new sales? To put it another way, say you have a small following on LinkedIn, but it consistently generates new leads. Which one deserves more attention?
You can't answer that question if you aren't measuring lead generation from social media.
If you aren't generating leads, you're either on the wrong platform or your content isn't engaging to your buyer persona.
The sooner you identify the problem, the better — but you have to start tracking to find out. You can also gain valuable insight by looking into the demographics of the people who are seeing and responding to your content.
No inbound strategy would be complete without measuring the number of acquired customers.
Most of your social media posts should be focused on providing content for your audience and having a conversation with them — but when the time comes for you to ask for something in return, you want to know how many of those fans actually end up making it to the finish line.
This is the ultimate measurement of your success in social media marketing. If you've truly found the right people and kept them engaged, they'll be interested in buying your product or service (if they haven't already).
You shouldn't expect to have high new customer rates from social media because a lot of your followers will be current customers and another significant portion are only interested in the content. That's just the way it goes.
However, you want to pay attention to which social media channels produce the highest and lowest numbers. This shows you where to focus more time, and it shows you where your best leads are coming from.
Some people might think tracking customer acquisition and conversion rates from social media isn't necessary, but how else are you going to honestly measure the ROI from social media?
Engagement and reach are fun to measure because they make your brand look good, but you have to track the metrics that paint the full picture. The goal of measuring social media metrics isn't to justify your marketing strategy; it's to improve it.
Remember, while these are all smart choices, you should only focus on the social media KPIs that are most relevant to the platforms your brand is active on and that have the most relevance to your audience's behavior when it comes to buying.
Every audience is different. If your ideal buyer isn't inclined to hit "like," but is still closing, don't beat yourself up about it. Track what makes sense and actually reflects success.
Looking at engagement can give you the demographic your posts resonate with and the time and frequency that work well for you. However, there are a few metrics you can use to track your overall success. What you track also depends on the goal of your social strategy.
Some key things you might consider are:
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