As a social media marketer, you know that likes, comments, and followers—while important—are primarily vanity metrics which contribute little at the end of the day. After all, what’s the point of thousands of followers if they’re not properly engaged, and converting into clients?
That’s why any marketer who’s truly dedicated to his or her business will use an array of highly useful metrics as key performance indicators (KPIs). The right KPIs can prove, using actual data, that all of those followers are real people, who are actively engaged in your brand, and—most importantly—are converting into customers, subscribers, or whatever else your end goal may be.
So whether you want to figure out the potential reach of a post, or learn the conversions that resulted from a specific social media campaign, you should make sure that you are using the social media metrics that actually matter. This is the only way that you’ll be able to truly learn what works for your audience base, and instill the iterative learnings that will ultimately help grow your brand.
One of the basic metrics that should be calculated is your reach. This refers to the estimated number of your social media followers that could come into contact with your social media account, post, or campaign. There are a number of more detailed subsets of this, which will be discussed further below.
Reach is important to calculate, as it can help you determine if your social media influence is expanding. Ideally, you want your reach to continually increase as your online presence grows. This metric is especially important to those who are interested in increasing their brand awareness above all else, such as bloggers or influencers.
Many of the best social media management tools, such as Sprout Social and , can help you to determine the reach of most any campaign fairly easily. You will want to use one of these tools in order to get the most accurate estimate.
#2: Post Reach
Once your reach has been determined, it’s then possible to find your post reach. While reach is the number of people who could potentially come in contact with your post, post reach is an estimate of how many people actually have come in contact with your post.
In order to calculate your post reach, you divide your reach number by your total number of followers. You then multiply this number by 100 in order to arrive at your post reach percentage.
#3: Theoretical Reach
Your theoretical reach takes into account both your followers, as well as the followers of the individuals or companies that mentioned your brand, or shared your post. This will give you a better picture of all the individuals that you could potentially reach beyond your own immediate network.
In order to calculate your theoretical reach, your best bet is to use some sort of brand monitoring tool, such as Hootsuite; this will help you track your number of brand mentions. Next, you’re going to want to add up the total number of followers from each account that had mentioned you, this is your total potential audience. You’ll then multiply these two numbers together to arrive at your theoretical reach—which can be huge!
#4: Potential Reach
While the name might sound similar, don’t confuse this with your theoretical reach. Your potential reach is an estimate of the number of people that would realistically see your post. This number essentially takes your theoretical reach one step further by narrowing it down only to the users that most likely came into contact with your post.
The potential reach is easy to determine once you’ve calculated your theoretical reach, as it’s simply 2% to 5% of that number. To find this you’ll need to multiply your theoretical reach by 0.02 up to 0.05, and the resulting range of numbers will be your potential reach.
Brand Awareness Metrics
#5: Brand Awareness
One of the biggest reasons that your organization has a presence across social media is to increase its brand awareness. In fact, for many businesses (especially bloggers and social media influencers) that’s their primary focus, as more awareness generally equals more web traffic, which results in increased earnings (from either sales or advertising). If this describes your organization, you should consider focusing on reach and brand awareness metrics as your primary KPIs.
A simple way to quickly measure brand awareness is through paying attention to the interactions that users have with your posts. Some of the interactions that organizations choose to measure include likes, comments, impressions, shares, and mentions. By choosing one or more of these as a brand awareness KPI, and then calculating their total number for a given week, month, or quarter, you can gain a rough idea of how many users are actually interacting with—and are therefore aware of—your brand for that period.
You should also be looking at how these metrics change over time or with different campaigns and ask yourself:
- What are the qualities of the campaigns that have the most engagement?
- What type of messaging, imagery, or CTAs are the most compelling?
- How can you incorporate these learnings to continually strengthen future posts?
#6: Rate of Audience Growth
This is a great metric to see the rate at which awareness of your brand is growing across social media platforms. By measuring audience growth rate, not only can you prove that your brand awareness is expanding, but you can also determine exactly how quickly it is doing so.
In order to calculate your audience growth rate you’re first going to need to see how many new followers that you’ve gained in a given time period (e.g., month, quarter, or campaign). Next, you’ll need to divide your number of new followers by your total audience, and multiply this by 100 to get the final percentage rate of growth over a particular length of time.
This should be done across each social media platform on which you have a presence. This way you can determine which platform you’re marketing techniques are effectively growing your audience on, and which ones have some room for improvement.
#7: Social Share of Voice (SSoV)
This metric will help you to gauge how many people are discussing your brand compared to discussing your competitors. This is another great way to measure your brand awareness by seeing how your brand fares against the competition when it comes to social media mentions. This is also a great way to see what marketing techniques are working for competitors as well as for yourself.
To calculate your SSoV you’re first going to need to use a social media management tool like Sprout Social or in order to find how many mentions your company received across social networks. You want to try and find all direct (@Company Name) and indirect (Company Name) mentions on each platform in which you have a presence. Next you’ll want to pick a competitor, or multiple competitors, and measure each of their mentions during the same time period. Add these numbers to arrive at the total industry mentions. Finally, you’ll simply divide your company mentions by the total number of industry mentions, and then multiply by 100 to get your final SSoV percentage.
Social Media Conversion Metrics
#8: Conversion Rate
While all the other metric types are great for a variety of purposes, at the end of the day, you really want to know whether or not your social media marketing is effective, and that’s where the conversion metric comes into play. It will help you to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI), and that all your hard work is actually paying off. It does this by determining how many visitors clicked on your post, and then proceeded to take a specific desired action (such as subscribe or make a purchase). This figure is then compared to your total number of visitors.
To calculate your conversion rate, first you’re going to need to make a post with a link that you’ll be able to track. You then want to use a campaign reporting tool to keep track of not only the clicks onto your landing page, but also the number of clicks onto your call to action (CTA) button. At this point you simply divide the number of conversions by the total number of clicks, and then multiply the results by 100 to arrive at your conversion rate percentage.
#9: Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is the metric used to measure how many people clicked onto your landing page, and then left without doing anything useful. This is valuable information for organizations that are trying to get users to take a specific action, although less useful for posts that link to a blog or an article, as it’s expected that the users will bounce once they’ve read the content. For these types of posts it’s a better idea to measure the length of time that the user had spent on your page.
Bounce rate is easy to determine if you have Google Analytics set up on your website, as this is one of the metrics that they track. All that needs to be done is to click on the bounce rate button under the Channels tab in Google Analytics, and here you will find an up-to-date bounce rate percentage.
Which Metrics Are Right for Your Organization?
Now that you know all the metrics that most social media marketers are paying attention to, you need to figure out which ones matter to you. This can vary from organization to organization, as each business can have vastly different goals that they are setting out to accomplish.
Therefore, before deciding on any one metric to use as your KPI, you should ask yourself what the goals of your individual marketing campaign are, as well as those of the organization as a whole. From there, find the metrics that best align with your set goals, and use them to measure your success.
By using the right metrics for your organization, you can greatly improve your social media marketing efforts. You’ll be able to pinpoint the areas that you’re succeeding in, and the ones that could use improvement.