Which Social Media Metrics Are REALLY Important (and How To Track Them)
Updated: 7 days ago
The Metrics. No, it’s not the long-gestating new movie starring Keanu Reeves (although there is one coming / in cinemas now / on digital* - delete as applicable determined by when you’re reading this).
Instead, we’re talking about metrics, or more specifically, social media metrics. You know, the numbers you use to monitor your social media marketing and its effectiveness.
Whether you’re a Tweeter, a Facebooker or love a bit of Insta, social media is all around us. Too many people focus on how many followers they have, ‘Likes’ they accumulate or reactions to their posts and whilst that may be the target for personal accounts, they are, for the most part, vanity metrics; numbers to fluff your ego.
In business terms, they don’t tell the whole story. In fact, they barely tell any story at all.
Here we’re going to take a look at the metrics you need to be looking at for your business (or clients), how to track them and, more importantly, why they are important. You may well need to show that your efforts have to make a positive difference to the bottom line to show the ‘higher-ups’ that an investment in social media is working or your latest campaign is hitting the right spots.
To do that, you need to be able to dig below the surface and quantify your decisions. We talked in a previous blog (linked here) about the Social Media Funnel, so before we make a start, let’s recap what the social media funnel is.
The funnel that best suits your business will be a little different than it is for someone else’s, but in terms of metrics, we’ve broken them down into 4 basic categories.
Brand Awareness; these metrics will tell you about your current (or potential) audience.
Engagement; metrics to show how people are engaging with your content.
Conversion; metrics that demonstrate how effective your social engagement is (or has been to date).
Consumer; metrics will reflect how active your community is, including how they think and feel about your brand or business.
Each one of those stages listed below will include a set of metrics specific to that section that you really should be measuring. If tracked correctly, they will show you important details that may not be initially obvious but will tell you just how effective your social media marketing is.
Now we’re all on the same page, let’s look at the metrics you really SHOULD be tracking in more detail including (and this is the whole point of the blog) how to track them.
1. BRAND AWARENESS METRICS
The clue is in the title (literally in this case) but ‘Brand Awareness’ is all about the attention that your business (or brand) gets across all social media platforms.
You might track these figures weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or yearly (although annually might be a bit pointless, but hey, it’s up to you). Whatever the time period you’re using, keep it consistent and keep it regular. But what does ‘attention’ mean? We’re glad you asked.
Attention can be a number of things. It can be the number of @mentions you get, how many posts of yours are shared, links and impressions. You can track it in 3 steps.
Decide which metric your business wants to be tied to brand awareness. It will be up to you which one is most suitable. You’ll know your audience better than we do.
Decide the time period by which you’re going to measure awareness against (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc).
Once you have Step 1 and 2 covered, Step 3 is easy; be consistent. This will ensure that you’re benchmarking trends with data that is both accurate and dependable. Don’t start to track it every week, then switch to monthly when it becomes a pain, switch back again. Find the right timescale for your business and stick to it.
AUDIENCE GROWTH RATE
Instead of looking at the number of followers you have, the real metric to track is Audience Growth Rate (AGR). This isn’t concerned with the number of followers you have (which is just vanity), but instead measures the speed at which your brand’s following increases.
Basically, it’s how quickly you add followers, not the total number. Some marketers call this ‘social media inflation’, others refer to it as the ‘Expectation of Growth’, but whatever you call it, you should be tracking it.
Are you attracting new followers? Are you doing it quicker than your competition? How would you know? This will tell you in two steps.
Measure your net new followers (separately on each platform - don’t add them together) over your agreed reporting period (weekly, monthly, etc.).
Once you have that number, divide your net new followers by your total audience for each platform and then multiply by 100. This will give your AGR percentage. A simple spreadsheet will help you here.
Easy peasy. It might also be worth doing the same process on your competition if nothing but to see how you’re stacking up against them. Bear in mind, that they may be doing it to you too!
It might sound complicated to assess, but it’s one of the easiest to do. Post Reach is simply how many people have seen your post once it is live.
Please DO NOT assume that if your Facebook page has, say, 5000 'Likes' that 5000 people will see every post you do. Facebook and their ever-changing algorithm doesn’t work like that.
It’s worth noting that we are talking about organic posts here, i.e. posts that aren’t ‘boosted’ by money or shared by people. You may well have posted something that really took off and others that have barely created a ripple and thought “What gives?”
Well, there are two factors that play into that and the good news is that you can control them both. The reach any post has is affected by (1) timing (i.e. when is most of your audience online) and (2) content (what are your audience interested in). To track it, let’s find a benchmark. To do that:
Measure the reach of any post (just pick any one at random).
Divide that number by your total number of followers, then multiply it by 100. This will give you your Post Reach Percentage.
Once you have the number, start to monitor it against different posts from different times of the day and on different topics. Mix it up for a month or so just to get a feel on which posts work and when they are added.
The ones with the highest reach will soon become clear and give you a basis to work from. Facebook actually has a feature called ‘When Your Fans Are Online’ on the Insights section of your page, so that should give you some hints on the best time to post to increase your reach.
As we said in the last section, a Page with 'x' Likes won’t get posts seen by all of those people, but there is potential there for a post to ‘break out’.
Potential Reach measures the number of people who could realistically see any of your posts during your pre-determined reporting period.
If you’re still looking perplexed, let’s look at it another way. Let’s say you post an intro and link to your latest blog. If one of your followers / Likers shares that post with their network, then 2-5% of their followers are now in play and that then factors into that post’s potential reach. The more people who share, the further your reach extends.
Why is this important? Well, you should always be looking at expanding your audience. The more people who know about you, the larger the market you can look to expand into (they can be all potential customers). If you know what your potential reach is, you can use that to gauge your progress. This is how you track it:
Track your total number of brand mentions. A Brand Monitoring tool might be useful here (Google have some of their own tools which are pretty good).
Record how many followers saw each of those mentions. In other words, the audience of the account that mentioned you.
Multiply those two numbers together to get your ‘Theoretical Reach’. This is the absolute maximum number of people who could, theoretically, see your brand mentions.
Your potential reach is somewhere between 2-5% of your theoretical reach. It’s not an exact science, so just use the range which will hopefully grow over time.
SOCIAL SHARE OF VOICE
Social Share of Voice (or SSoV) is the measurement of how many people are mentioning your brand on social media in comparison to your competition during a particular period. It’s basically a competitive analysis used to determine how visible (or relevant) you are in your perspective market compared to your competitors.
Those mentions can be either direct (i.e. they use your @username) or indirect (i.e. they just mention your user or brand name). You track it like this. Please be aware that your social media platform will have some analytics that will help you here.
Count every mention your brand receives, both direct and indirect, across your social platforms over your chosen time period.
Do exactly the same for your competition over the same period.
Add those two figures together to give you the total industry mentions. It won’t, strictly speaking, be the ‘total industry’, but enough to work with.
Divide your brand mentions (from Step 1) by the grand total (from Step 3) and multiply by 100 to get your SSoV percentage.
2. ENGAGEMENT METRICS
For the second set of 4 metrics from the funnel, we’re going to look at those concerned with engagement. In other words, the metrics that show you how people are interacting (or not) with your content across your social media platforms.
Amplification Rate is the ratio of shares per post, compared to the number of overall followers.
‘Amplification’ is a term coined by digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kashik to mean “the rate at which your followers take your content and share through their networks.” If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us.
What it boils down to is this, the higher your amplification rate, then the more willing your followers are to associate themselves with your business (or brand). So how do you track it? Like this:
Add up the number of times a post was shared. By 'shared', we mean either retweeted, repinned, 'regrammed', reposted, etc.) during your chosen reporting period.
Divide that number by your total number of followers (on each platform) and multiply by 100 to get your amplification rate percentage.
The Applause Rate isn’t how many people give your content a hearty hand clap (although it should be, it would be tricky to track). Instead, the Applause Rate is the number of ‘approval’ actions your post receives in relation to your total number of followers.
Approval actions are things like a ‘Like’, being ‘favourited’ or any of the emoticons that Facebook offers.
When one of your followers takes time to ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ one of your posts, they are acknowledging that it’s valuable to them. Knowing what percentage of your audience finds value in your posts can, and definitely should, allow you to shape your content going forward as you’ll know what’s working, and what’s not.
To find your applause rate:
Add up the total approval actions a post receives over the course of a reporting period. Bear in mind, that to find a baseline, you need to do this for every post.
Divide that number by your total followers on each platform that you’re posting on and multiply by 100 to get your applause rate percentage.
AVERAGE ENGAGEMENT RATE
Building on the Applause Rate we talked about above, the Average Engagement Rate (AER) looks at the number of engagement actions (things like… errr…. likes, shares and comments) a particular post receives in relation to your total number of followers.
This is an important metric because it means that the higher your engagement rate is, the more your audience is engaging with your content, therefore the more interesting (and engaging) your content is to your audience.
You need to track the engagement rate of every post. Also, if you have a high engagement rate then the actual number of likes and shares becomes irrelevant.
Before we tell you how to track it, it’s worth noting that the benchmark for this metric is different on each platform. For example, Facebook and Twitter usually have lower engagement rates (somewhere between 0.5% - 1%), whereas Instagram is relatively high (3% - 6%).
If your rates are VERY low on one platform compared to another, then please bear this in mind. It’s not you, it’s them (possibly).
To track your AER:
Add up a post’s total likes, comments, and shares. Repeat this for each post during your agreed timescale.
Divide by your total number of followers (on each platform) and multiply by 100 to get your AER percentage.
We’re sure you’ve heard of the term ‘going viral’ in terms of social media posts. What defines, at least in marketing terms, whether something has ‘gone viral’ is up for grabs.
Some say that if you have 100 followers and 101 people see your post, then it’s gone viral, i.e. it’s gone outside of its standard orbit, but it’s all just bluster and means nothing in real terms. Some many things now ‘go viral’ it almost means nothing.
Digital marketers will have their own thresholds and definitions, but when WE are talking about it with clients here at CubeSquared, we consider the virality rate as the number of people who have shared your post relative to the number of impressions (i.e. unique views) it had during your specified reporting period.
This is more than just getting ‘Likes’. Let’s face it, we’ve all just scrolled through social media timelines randomly clicking the ‘Like’ button on posts from friends without really reading it. Come on, you know you have!
The thing is, a post that gets 10,000 likes may only have a virality rate of 0.1%. Similarly, another post that receives the same number of likes might reach a virality rate of 9.97%. Trust us, you want the latter. To find out your VR;
Measure a post’s impressions.
Measure a post’s shares.
Divide the number from Step 2 by the number from Step 1 and multiply by 100. This will give you your virality rate as a percentage. Once you’ve got that, track it going forward.
3. CONVERSION METRICS
The penultimate set of metrics we’re going to look at is those looking at conversion. In other words, those numbers that hopefully demonstrate the effectiveness of your social engagement because people have taken action beyond just ‘liking’ it.
Most of the metrics we’ve talked about so far are all about getting higher rates (some relatively so), but Bounce Rate is measured by getting it as low as possible.
Bounce rate is the percentage of page visitors who click on a link in your post only to quickly leave the page they land on without doing anything else.
If your website has nothing to keep them engaged beyond that initial click, they’re going to leave. That’s your bounce rate and you want that to happen as little as possible.
The importance of bounce rate is that it lets you measure your social media traffic against other sources of traffic (i.e. measuring traffic to your website from a Facebook post vs. traffic that comes from someone carrying out an organic Google search).
If your social media bounce rate is lower than that of other sources, that’s solid proof that your campaigns on social media are targeting the right audience. This also means that it is driving high-value traffic (not just ‘traffic’).
If you are able to demonstrate the effectiveness of your social media strategy then it will go a long way to proving its value to your business.
You can track your bounce rate like this, although you’re going to need Google Analytics set-up.
Once logged into Google Analytics, open the Acquisition tab and look under All Traffic for the Channels segment.
Click on the ‘Bounce Rate’ button. This will rank all of the channels from lowest bounce rate to highest (remember you’re looking for the lowest rate; the higher rates may need some work).
Like the Amplification Rate we talked about in section 2, conversation rate is another metric formulated by Avinash Kaushik which looks at the ratio of comments per post in relation to the number of overall followers you have.
Sure you can track how many comments your posts attract, but they won’t have any context. A post with 100 comments is amazing if you have 200 followers, but not if you have a 100,000,000.
By tracking your conversation rate, you can begin to understand what percentage of your audience is willing to add their voice to your content. Kaushik puts it like this, “Is what you are saying interesting enough to spark the most social of all things: a conversation?” Well said that man.
This is how to track your conversation rate:
Use your social media platform’s analytics to pull the number of comments you received during your reporting period.
Divide that number by your total number of followers (again, on each platform) and multiply by 100 to get your conversation rate percentage. Simple.
3. CONVERSION RATE
This is one of the most common metrics that businesses track (or should be tracking). The conversion rate is the number of visitors who, after clicking on a link in your post, take ‘action’ on a webpage vs. those who do nothing and just ‘bounce’. Together they will give you the total visitors to a page.
This ‘action’ could be anything, like entering their email address to subscribe to your newsletter; downloading a free e-book / pdf, registering for an event or webinar, etc.
Having a high conversion rate means your content is proving to be valuable and compelling to its target audience (your community of followers) which is what you want.
From a social media perspective, it also shows that your post was relevant to the offer or, in other words, it kept its promise. You track it like this:
Place a ‘cookie’ on the user’s machine. This attaches a lead to a campaign (assuming they accept it).
Use the campaign reporting to track the total number of clicks and conversions generated by the post.
Divide conversions by total clicks and multiply by 100 to get your conversion rate.
It’s worth noting that a post’s conversion rate can be high, even if its traffic is low. If you only get 10 clicks but all 10 do ‘something’ then that’s fantastic. The two metrics ARE mutually exclusive so, on that note…..
Almost all of what we’ve talked about so far can be achieved by some careful organic monitoring (i.e. free). Cost-Per-Click (CPC) is the metric you need to track if you’ve got your wallet / purse out.
CPC is the amount you pay per individual click on your sponsored social media post. Regardless of where you choose to advertise (whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram) CPC isn’t about how much you spend in total.
Instead, by monitoring your CPC, you can see where your investment is working (i.e. effective) and where it isn’t. It’s no good spending £200 on advertising if you can’t tell where they are clicking on your ad. You can track your CPC like this (it’s dead easy).
Check your platform’s Ad Manager (there will be one) regularly. Don’t ever let your CPC campaigns go unattended for an extended period of time.
COST PER THOUSAND (CPM)
Before we start, let’s talk about the elephantus in the room for the observant ones out there. If you've just read that sub-title and you’re thinking “hold on, that acronym doesn’t make sense” You’re right, unless you speak Latin.
The ‘M’ stands for ‘Mille’ which is latin for thousand. Every day’s a school day!
Unlike the Cost-per-Click we’ve just talked about, Cost Per Thousand, sometimes known as Cost Per Thousand Impressions, is the amount you pay every time a thousand people scroll past your sponsored social media post. Wait, what? Scroll past? Yep.
Unlike CPC, a CPM post won’t necessarily drive any action, but it’s not designed to. It will only create impressions or views. That might sound a little pointless, but CPM is a faster and less expensive way to test content.
Before you embark on a new campaign, CPM is a great way of testing two different strategies before you invest real money. Is your content so eye-catching people can’t help but be attracted by it, or do they just whizz by without a second glance.
You track CPM in exactly the same way you track CPC:
Check your platform’s Ad Manager (there will be one) regularly. Again, don’t ever let your CPC campaigns go unattended for too long.
CLICK-THROUGH RATE (CTR)
Following on from the Conversion Rate we spoke about above, the Click-Through Rate (CTR) looks at how often people click on the call-to-action link in your post. This is not to be confused with other engagement actions (liking, sharing and commenting).
The CTR is specifically tied to a link in your post that gives your audience more. Tracking CTR correctly gives you crucial insights into just how compelling your content is to your target audience.
To find your CTR:
Measure the total clicks on a post’s link (remember the trackable URL shortener)
Measure the total impressions on that post.
Divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions and multiply by 100 to get your CTR percentage.
Don’t forget to measure clicks and impressions within the same reporting period otherwise, it won’t give you reliable data.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONVERSION RATE (SMCR)
You will hopefully be converting people from a myriad of different sources, but Social Media Conversion Rate is only concerned with those coming specifically from your social media platforms.
SMCR is the total number of conversions expressed as a percentage. Understanding this metric will give you clear insight into the effectiveness of each post in a campaign. In other words, it answers this question: how well does this offer resonate with our target audience?
This is how you track SMCR
Measure your total number of conversions.
Divide the social media conversions by the total number of conversions and multiply by 100 to get your social media conversion rate percentage.
4. CUSTOMER METRICS
For our final set of metrics, we’re going to look at Customer Metrics. These stats will demonstrate how your active customers (that’s the key ‘active’) think and feel about your business. Do they love what you do or not? Let’s take a look.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION (CSAT) SCORE
If you’re looking for a specific metric for customer satisfaction, then this is it. Customer Satisfaction (abbreviated to ‘CSat’) is a metric that measures how happy people are with your product or service in tangible terms.
This statistic has become almost ubiquitous in the industry to understand how customers feel about your business. It works because it’s clear, it’s concise and, thankfully for you, easy to manage.
Usually, your CSat score comes from one, simple question: It can be something like “How would you describe your overall satisfaction with ‘x’?” Customers will then rate their satisfaction on a linear scale that can be measured. This can be either numerical (e.g., from 1 to 5 or 10) or sentimentally (e.g. Below Average; Average; Good; Great, Excellent).
The terms can be changed to whatever works for you, but they need to be on an ascending scale. To find your CSat:
Create a CSat survey on social media. Most give you the option to create a survey or poll-type question.
Add up the sum of all the scores.
Divide the sum by the number of respondents and then multiply by 10 to get your score.
You can run this reguarly to see how you’re doing as your customer base grows.
Customer Testimonials are one of the cornerstones of business marketing, but have received a renaissance thanks to the internet.
Testimonials in this context include any review, assessment, comment, endorsement or interview relating to your brand.
If your brand makes people happy, they’ll be more likely to share their good experiences with others. Thanks to sites like Trip Advisor, Feefo, TrustPilot and even Facebook, this is can be a big plus to your business. They give your brand credibility and build trust whilst boosting your visibility.
There isn’t really a metric for this that will really offer much insight, but there are some simple ways to get your customers to offer testimonials based on their experiences. For example, you can:
Simply ask customers to leave a review (ideally those who’ll leave a positive one!). Careful though, don’t ever offer anything for a testimonial because that just undermines your quest for credibility.
Run a specific social media campaign to encourage people to create testimonials. These can be in the form of text or video that you can use or point them towards doing so on review sites.
Link directly to your Google My Business page to see your reviews….you do HAVE a Google My Business page right?
NET PROMOTER SCORE (NPS)
We made it, the final one. It’s been a long blog we know, but stick with us! Last but not least, we’re going to look at Net Promoter Score.
NPS is a metric that measures customer loyalty. Sounds impossible, but it’s not. It is unique though, because not only does it measure satisfaction, but also future sales. It’s a metric that businesses of all sizes use for that reason.
Unlike CSat that we looked at previously, Net Promoter Score is good at predicting future customer engagement because it is the product of one specifically-phrased question which is “How likely is it that you would recommend our [insert business / product / service] to a friend?” Simple.
Your customers are then asked to answer on a scale of 0 to 10. Depending on which number they give, their response groups each customer into one of three categories; either Detractors, Passives and Promoters.
If their score is between 0 and 6, they are classed as a Detractor. A score of 7-8 makes them Passive and 9-10 elevates them to Promoter status. Ooooh!
You can track your NPS by:
Create a NPS survey on social media with the options available as answers. Some polls offer limited options as answers so plan ahead.
Subtract the number of those classed as promoters (i.e. those choosing 9-10) from the number of detractors (0-6).
Divide that number by the total number of respondents and multiply by 100 to get your Net Promoter Score.
There you go. All the metrics that are worth tracking to help grow your business. If you need any help, just drop us a line and we will do our very best to help you.
THE FINAL WORDS
If social media management is your responsibility, whether you meet with your manager every month or every day, the conversations you have about this kind of data will have more substance and be more impactful by using this information.
They will also help you to highlight metrics that demonstrate the bottom-line impact of your effort. In these difficult economic times, we’re all looking for an edge and these will give you that.
Whilst these are the key metrics, they're not necessarily ALL of them, so feel free to create your own that suits your business. Forget about vanity metrics and build these into your business instead. They will tell you a story that’s going to last and keeps you and your audience engaged.
Do they take more effort? Yes, but you’ll come away with so much more knowledge about your business to go on to greater things.
We’d love to know what you think, so please leave a comment below.