Ask five professionals about what metrics you should track on social media, they will all have different versions of what constitute the right metrics and which measurements you should pay lesser attention to.
But of any social media implementation, measurement is something concerned with individual focus and background on which the overall business strategy is built.
Though there are common yards in every business sphere, not even less in an environment where interactions are summed up in Retweets, Shares, Likes, Comments and so, what make a difference in the end, are those finer grains you have made your own.
Sure, hundreds of retweets on Twitter will help to keep the morale high for you to continue to post more content on the platform, but you want to also see where that is leading you to.
In a business sense, such interactions should bring an equivalent amount of clicks to your site or landing pages, all other things being equal! (I explain what that means below.)
Meanwhile if much of what you are still getting on social media is limited to these cosmetic measurements, that is, you have not yet been able to attribute any business KPI’s to your social efforts, then you might need to fine-tune your content to focus on the activities in the next phase of your customer journey: brand website, landing pages, sales funnel, etc.
Vanity metrics are not so vain, though. They are useful to know the interest patterns and sentiments on the part of your audience which you can later translate into a bigger strategy in your communications.
For instance, I’ve published a lot of “how-to” content on this blog, but most of the feedbacks and conversions I’ve received have come from content I’ve written based on “tools”. That automatically tells me that readers want more of actionable content.
The same thing can be said on social media, I’ve seen more spikes in social referral traffics in this content type than others. It doesn’t necessarily mean I should christen every content with “tools” in the headline in order to gain user engagement, but content should be backed up with resources helpful to users in the implementation.
Have you also discovered your own content gem to pique the interest of visitors? Well, you don’t need to do this every time you are set to publish. Marketing is often a mix of different strategies. Your least converting content can also offer up something on the entertaining side, which is relevant to infuse variety in your marketing strategy.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of content in social media measurement. Because content is the starting point of any user engagement.
A variable content plan gives you the liberty to gauge user intent at wider “interaction” points.
Do you know why people “like”, “share” or “comment” on your post on social media? I’ve written a post on this before which you can find here.
With that said, let’s look at the metrics that are most helpful on social media and what they mean to your business goal.
First, determine where social media lies in your sales funnel?
Probably it’s going to be at the very top. People searching your business on social media are doing so to learn more about what you do and probably gain some expert views. At this stage, it is hard to see them opening their wallet for anything.
Even in a sales-oriented platform like Pinterest, conversion is easier when people have been exposed to your business at a deeper level, which allows them to know their options when buying.
Social media is a canvasser rather than any conversion point. Even sending them to your website isn’t enough anymore, unless you’re able to power through with a lot of value that would be hard to find elsewhere. If you’re looking to sell your Help Desk software, for instance, on social media, you will probably end up having a sales funnel that looks this way:
Tweet a link to your webinar » people click on it and sign up » they take the webinar » you follow up with your product link » and they Buy
You can see social media lies pretty high in that funnel. If you’re setting your metrics to track product sales, that will amount to confusion. A more reasonable measurement will be webinar sign-ups.
I’ve personally learned from experience how “clicks” on social media is far from being an ideal measurement for dollar conversions. A lot of things still go in-between these two metrics. Yeah, you might think the more clicks you earn from social media the more chance you get for the next sales on your products, but that’s if you have carefully laid down the path to nurture them through with like the sales funnel we just defined.
Take a look at this stat:
That’s the result of a few shares of links to a product I’m affiliated to on social media, as you can see, only clicks no sign ups.
This brings us to the next phase:
Setting a goal
The idea of goal setting does not help you influence the conversions in any way but to see how visitors move through each phase of conversion in their journey to become your customers. And you know the old saying “what get measured, get managed”.
You can see which link brought a particular sale in your Google Analytics, instead of a generic view of social referral data.
This is by adding some elements onto your link using Google URL builder. Each click will now be divided based on 1) campaign source: sources of traffic i.e social media, 2) campaign medium: your sales funnel i.e. emails, 3) campaign name: for keyword analysis i.e. autumn sale.
You can view these data by going to the “acquisition” section under the reporting tab in your Google Analytics. It’s easier to track your social media metrics with this method but you won’t have to do this in every link shared to social. Only links directly attached to a conversion would make sense to configure this way.
Having had this background, let’s go into the common metrics on social media and what they mean to your business goals.
A two-way conversation like comments is the most important metric to determine how valuable a post is to your network on social media. It’s no coincidence that it often represents a scanty measurement on social media. People rarely comment but when they do definitely there is a connection.
I’ve used comments to funnel leads on social media who later become clients.
If the goal is to keep up with customer support, then a consistent inflow of comments to your social posts shows you’re up in that line.
Comments can also be an indication of relationship building done well with your community; one of the three fundamental reasons why startups join the social bandwagon (awareness, customer acquisition, and relationship building).
When you have developed a tribe of fans on social, it’s easy to tweet about a product launch, an upcoming event, or a link to your sweepstakes contest and have people replying on those.
Mentioning these does not make one forget the amplification impact that comments also bring to your social projects. A reply to your post on Twitter automatically shares the content to common networks in the user’s timeline, then that reply equates a retweet when the user decides to add something before the username of the original post author, like this .@smediaverve
On Facebook, comments are a high-powered discussion venue since Facebook now prioritizes activities of friends in user’s newsfeed in the recent algorithm update.
That is, if your friend comments or interacts with a post, Facebook will also show it higher up in your newsfeed. Depending on how you’ve enabled “notification” for such, you may also get the update as email.
Retweets on Twitter, shares on Facebook, repins on Pinterest, reblogs on Tumblr, etc., are all key metrics to track if awareness constitutes a bigger strategy in your marketing.
Since shares are free-flowing on social media, it’s not advisable to base your entire strategy on this metric.
Nevertheless, they at least spread the good news beyond your first-level network to second, even third and beyond.
You want to also probe into why people share content on social media; the psychology behind the decision to share rather than to comment or like. Some say they see sharing as a form of information management, while the others say it is just another way to reinforce their commitments.
It varies based on individual, you should uncover why as you track this metric in your social process.
Another fundamental measurement that has value beyond the social landscape is the number of clicks earned per each post. Of course, the purpose is not to just watch the swirling reactions on your posts on social media, you want to also see if those are translating into bigger impacts in your marketing; taking them to the domains you solely own and manage.
What is the impact of your social media fame on your brand website? How many of them have signed up to your podcast session, or request a demo of your product, or watch a video on your sales page? These are bigger impacts you should expect from clicks on social media.
Now we got to the point that you ask “are we not turning back and facing the wrong lane?” Since this post spurns vanity metrics.
Remember, measurements are no useful by themselves, but what you do afterward is the key thing. If you’re just popping up on social media to see likes as an approval of your influence, then it won’t bring you anything.
You need to also psyche why people like your post. This can include among others: to identify with a cause; to connect with your brand; to support or reply a post (instead of commenting, due to limited time on social). Likes can be a gauge for many things.
The bottom line is how you respond to your metrics in every sense of the measurement.
Tools for measurement
The top social media platforms have inbuilt analytics that is well packed. But if you want to take your data mining to the next level, there are some third-party services that can turn you to a data expert. They help in the area of data presentation and visualization, as well.
Since Twitter made analytics universally accessible back in 2014 marketing had been widely opened for all on the platform. You don’t have to be a data scientist to read your tweet performance, and other metrics, from time to time.
Everything is clearly spelled out in a graphical data. If any confusion should be, it has to be the revelation that lesser popular tweets (fewer retweets and favorites) tended to earn most clicks per post on Twitter
Engagements, Impressions, and Engagement Rate are all important metrics to pay attention to, which I’ve explained in this post
With a bigger user base, no one does the analytics better than Facebook provides in the “Insights” section of its fan page. Simply click the Insights tab on your Facebook page to view the 7-day snapshot of your page performance.
You can then dive deep into ‘engagement’ for your posts, it captures everything that concerns user interactions on each post; this includes the number of times the user clicked to enlarge a picture, clicked on a link, or even clicked the profile of a post author. Engagement could also mean ‘like’, comment, or share.
While engagement tells you what post users want to see more of from you, it may not actually paint the total picture. Engagement could be high due to increase in ‘organic reach’ for posts shared at optimal times.
In this case, engagement measured against organic reach would be a better gauge for post-performance:
Engagement / Organic Reach equals to ER (Engagement Rate).
‘Click-through rate’ is another metric that is tied to your social media goal customer acquisition. When you experience spikes in post engagement, you want to see how many of those are transferring to your website, as well. In addition, the ‘Top Referral Sources’ show you how many users on your Facebook page came from your website as well. This is a great way to see how both ends of your business dovetail with each other.
Hootsuite is a tool to keep all your social media accounts in one place and manage them from a single dashboard. Create streams to respond to a #hashtag on Twitter, ‘mentions’ on Facebook, or participate in LinkedIn group discussions, it is endless what you can manage.
Since HootSuite is focused on organizing your social activities, the results from measuring with this tool have been one of most drilled down. But you will need to upgrade to a paid plan to enjoy a wide range of HootSuite’s analytics modules.
Talking about data visualization, no one does it better than the service provided by SimplyMeasured. Measure your social media with powerful insights into the interests and profiles of people you are marketing to. SimplyMeasured takes the guesswork out of your marketing to focus on the areas that are actually bringing results.
For instance, in one of the charts in a report on Twitter, it shows you the Twitter users who are driving the most traffic to your website. These are the people to focus your campaign on as you measure their conversions in your Google analytics integration.
You can get free reports on your social media accounts, but access denied when your audience has reached a particular limit (10k followers on Twitter or below).
For paid reports, pricing starts at $500 per month with access to measure 10 social profiles with an audience of up to 250k.
With more demanded from marketers nowadays to prove results of every dollar spent, access to social media metrics helps you move beyond marketing measurement to marketing valuation.
Advertisers want results, they also want it proven. It is easier to get a budget on a proven marketing with negative ROI than on an unproven effort, according to HubSpot. Inbound marketing is a long game, the initial cost can be recouped over the course of time with a proven tactic.
When you understand the why behind the metrics, – remember, each counts for a human interaction – then you can better develop a content plan that can pull the strings in your marketing.
Over to you
What metrics are most effective for your business? How do you tie those to your marketing strategy on social? Please share your thoughts in the comment box