Determining social media success is all about the metrics.
Your social media data tells you exactly how you’re doing, which is what I really love about social media marketing. A billboard ad can’t tell you exactly how many people saw your content or engaged with it, but your social metrics will.
I use a social media tool to schedule and track my social metrics (I use and love Social Report!) and keep a monthly eye on my metrics, and it’s been really helpful for evaluating my content promotion on social.
If you want more info on how I view all of my social media reports in one place, watch the video below:
If you’re getting started with social media reporting, here are some of the most important metrics you should be tracking.
Likes and follows are kind of the “entry level” metric because they’re so easy to track! They’re a fun, measurable way to see how you’re doing, and they can give you a great general overview of how your reach is increasing and how people are responding to your comments.
But they’re actually less important than most people assume because they don’t show the entire picture. Think of follower and like counts as a loose overview of how your strategy is working, but remember that they’re not the end-all goal you should be striving for. Don’t get caught up in these numbers and obsess over them, and whatever you do, never buy followers.
When tracking your followers and likes, also make sure to track the overall rate of growth as well. In the screenshot below (for example), you can see that my YouTube channel had the highest rate of growth this year.
Engagement is more important metric than your follower count.
High quality, genuine engagement builds a dialogue and broadens your brand reach by connecting your accounts with other people. If your content is resonating (or at least hitting a nerve), people want to talk about it! You’re making content that’s relevant enough to people’s lives that they bring it into their own social sphere, which is really one of the best marketing bonuses you can get. That authentic engagement can’t really be bought.
There are a number of breakdowns you can use across the different platforms, but I recommend keeping an eye on post engagement, engagement per follower, and total engagement.
Just like rate of follower growth is important, the rate of engagement is important as well. Your rate of engagement tells you how much of your audience (followers, likes, etc) are actually liking, commenting, and sharing your social media content. In this 2019 report by Rival IQ, for example, the average rate of engagement on Instagram across all industries is 1.6%.
As your audience grows, you want to keep an eye on your engagement rate. Often times, that number will decrease as your total number of audience members increases. If it decreases to drastically, you could be growing an audience of the wrong people.
I wish more social profiles included this feature, but if your platform does track it, it’s great to note. If someone visited your profile, that’s actually kind of significant. Typically, these users are either interested in following you, learning about what you do, or looking for your website link. It is a strong indicator of interest because it typically requires a few additional clicks and/or taps from your user to even get to your profile.
Profile visits are a fabulous metric to track in relation to your follower growth and your website clicks. If you're seeing an increase in profile visits without seeing an increase in followers or website clicks, take a moment to analyze why that is. Is your profile not clear enough? Are the people visiting your profile the right ones?
Become a super fan of your brand’s super fans. These people are your advocates and influencers, and they’re a pillar of your social media community. Spoil them. Love on them. They’re working for you, so show them some love! Anyone who shares your content or gives you a recommendation on social media has done you a huge favor by attaching their own name (and reputation!) to yours.
If you have any followers with large audiences of their own, you may want to reach out to them if you’re launching a new campaign. If they already like your brand and they’re active in your target community, it could be a mutually beneficial arrangement to team up.
Reach and impressions are one of my favorite metrics to track. It’s a great clue-in to how your post is connecting with people including your followers and those outside of your immediate followers.
To break down the differences between reach and impressions:
- Reach – The total number of people who've seen your social media posts or profile
- Impressions – The total number of times your social media posts or profile has been seen
Your social media impressions will always be the same or higher than your reach as many people will often view your content more than once.
For example: Your post may have reached 100 people but have 120 impressions. That means 20 of those people saw your post twice! Here's an IRL example:
Reach and impression reports are the reason you don’t need to obsess over your follower and like count; your audience is actually a lot bigger than you think.
Depending on your niche, you may want to put more emphasis on reach and impressions rather than followers. I have a client in the bankruptcy space, for example, who may not get many followers, comments, or shares. But we DO get tons of impressions on our videos and content. The same is true for those of you in mental health, law, or any other personal services space.
Top Performing Pieces
A really fun piece of research reporting is to take a look at your top posts and see what exactly you did that worked. Compare your posting times, platform distribution, and content category and find some common denominators. You’ll walk away with a clearer picture of what content is working, which can (and should) guide your content production strategy going forward.
If you want to, you can also glance at what didn’t work. Was that poor performing post just a one-off, or is there a pattern of an ineffective posting time or content theme? The numbers don’t lie, so listen to them.
Content is king, and content is rooted in your audience. Understanding that audience is crucial for producing relevant content that connects well across platforms. Take a glance at your social audience. Does it align with the information on other platforms like your client list or website visitors?
This social media metric is especially important for local business. If you're based in Atlanta but you're seeing a large portion of your audience in Hong Kong, you could be attracting the wrong audience.
Keep an eye on your demographics during your quarterly or yearly reports. It's not a metric you need to check daily as this data shouldn't change too drastically.
Social Media Website Traffic
The goal of social media isn’t to increase your reach just for vanity’s sake. You’re trying to expand your business! Make sure you’re tracking how many people come to your website to keep your focus on your end game.
Google Analytics is the most accurate way to do this. Head over to your Source/Medium report in the dashboard to identify traffic sources and engagement. From there, you should see how many users are visiting your website from the different outlets. Here's an example of how this looks when I connected my Google Analytics to Social Report:
It’s awesome to learn which platforms are actually sending more people to your website, and sometimes it’s not even the platform you have the most followers on! If you have data indicating that one platform is converting higher than the others, you can intensify your efforts there and increase your returns.
Wrapping It All Up
Keeping track of your social media metrics will help you gain a better understanding of what's working when it comes to implementing your social media strategy.
If you use a tool like Social Report, you can set it up to automatically email you custom reports based on the metrics that are most important to you. That's what I do! Even if you check each platform manually, I suggest creating a spreadsheet to help you keep track of trends over time.
Which social media metics make the most impact in your business?
Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.