So you’re active on social media. You want to know how well it’s going for your business. You need to determine whether your social channels are worth the investment you’re putting in. But where do you start? There’s a whole multitude of social metrics out there you could be tracking, so how do you narrow it down and pinpoint the most important numbers?
We’ve broken it down for you. Below are the core metrics you should pay attention to based on the goals you have for your social media efforts.
The metrics are categorized by the following goals:
- Expanding awareness
- Boosting engagement
- Increasing conversions
Goal 1: Awareness
Awareness is at the top of the marketing funnel. Tracking awareness tells you about your current and potential audience, and how much attention your brand is getting from these users. These metrics give you insight into how well-known, recognizable, and influential your brand is (or is becoming).
Reach: The number of unique viewers on a post.
Impressions: The number of times a post shows up in users’ timelines.
Impressions and reach usually go hand-in-hand. Because they’re similar, they’re often used interchangeably by mistake. But the difference is that impressions count how many times a post is displayed, while reach counts who saw it.
Mentions: The number of times your brand is organically mentioned by others (not tied to a direct response or comment on your posts).
Related to this, it’s important to pay attention to the sentiment of those mentions — meaning how people are talking about your brand. Are the comments positive, negative, or neutral? If your brand is repeatedly tied with a particular topic or issue, that can give you an idea into improvements or opportunities you may want to take action on.
Audience growth rate: How your following grows over a period of time.
To calculate your audience growth rate percentage, take your net new followers (over a particular period of time like a month, year, etc) divided by your total audience, then multiply it by 100. If you want to track follower growth for one platform, use your audience numbers from only that platform. Or if you want a comprehensive audience view, combine your audience numbers from all platforms.
You can use this method to track your competitors’ growth as well to see how yours compares.
Goal 2: Engagement
Tracking engagement tells you how your audience is interacting with your content. It shows whether or not anyone cares about what your brand is saying. This category covers quite a few metrics, so we’re going to focus on just a few of the most important.
Shares: The number of times users share a post with their own network.
This is a key engagement metric to track because shares help expand your reach, whereas other metrics in this category do not. When people share your posts with their own followers, your content reaches new audiences. It’s an organic way to grow your exposure.
Calculate your amplification rate percentage by taking the number of times a post is shared, reposted, or retweeted and divide it by your total number of followers. Then multiply it by 100.
Saves: The number of times users save a post so they can come back to it later.
Not every platform allows you to see this metric, but for those that do (such as professional profiles on Instagram) it’s worth keeping an eye on. Saves are a great indication of what your audience finds valuable. A high number of saves means users liked your content enough they want to hang onto it and refer back to it later.
Responses: The number of user responses on a post.
This includes post comments, direct messages, and responses to stories. Similar to mentions, you want to keep an eye on sentiment in responses too. Be mindful of how people are responding directly to the content you post, whether it’s positive,negative, or somewhere in between.
Likes: The number of approving actions taken on a post (e.g. likes, faves, applause, etc).
Tracking likes on a post may not be as important as other metrics, but don’t overlook it. A high or low number of likes can indicate which content does or does not resonate with your audience. Even more, likes serve as a form of social proof for those who are less familiar with your brand.
Post engagement rate: How your audience interacts with your content.
To calculate your engagement rate percentage for a particular post, take the total number of engagements and divide it by the post impressions or reach. Then multiply it by 100.
To calculate your overall engagement rate percentage for all content over a particular period of time, add up the total number of engagements on each post during that time and divide it by your total number of followers. Then multiply it by 100.
You can use these steps to compare your engagement rates with your competitors’ rates too.
Engagement metrics are commonly tracked by social media managers, but tracking these numbers alone doesn’t tell the full story of how your brand is performing on social. By themselves, these numbers are mostly vanity metrics. Engagement is important to pay attention to, but you should also track metrics in other categories to better understand the effectiveness of your social strategy. For example, a post that has high impressions but low engagement didn’t interest your audience enough for them to take action on it. But a post that has high impressions and high engagement hits the mark for your audience.
Goal 3: Conversions
Tracking conversions tells you how effective your brand awareness and social engagement are. If users are actively engaging with your content but your conversion metrics are lacking, that can be a clue it may be time to rethink your strategy.
Referrals: How users find your website.
Your website analytics show which channels people are using to find your site. If you’re using Google Analytics, you’ll see Social listed as a traffic source/medium. Then it gets broken down into specific platforms. Tracking these numbers shows you how many people are landing on your website after clicking a link in your social media content. This indicates when people are resonating with your content so much that they’re willing to leave their social profile to see more of what you have to offer.
Conversion rate: How many users are taking a desired action.
Conversions are the objectives you want your user to complete, such as filling out a form, downloading a PDF, making a purchase, or signing up for a webinar. How you track conversions for your social efforts depends on what your goals are. In general, to measure your conversion rate percentage, you want to take your total number of conversions and divide it by your total number of clicks, then multiply it by 100.
It’s most common to track conversions for paid ad campaigns. But even if you’re only focusing on organic efforts, it’s still a good idea to monitor the path users take with your content. If you have a method for tracking the user’s path, you can see how they interacted with your posts and website before finally converting.
Click-Through Rate (CTR): How often users click on a call-to-action link in a post.
Calculate your click-through rate percentage by taking the total number of clicks on a link divided by the number of impressions. Then multiply it by 100. A high CTR means a highly effective post.
Tracking a combination of metrics can help you understand why your social media content performs in certain ways. All social media managers know there’s a ton of factors that can affect social post performance, including day and time of the post, the post content, and more. Monitoring how your performance trends over time can help you narrow down what works best with your audience. It eliminates the guesswork and gives you the insight needed to make solid decisions about your strategy.