Social Media Metrics: What They Are and Why You Need Them

“Review your social media metrics!”—it’s one bit advice you’ll see again and again. And if you’re new or just not too enthused about social media marketing, you’re probably saying, “Okay. Great. What’s that now?”

Definition

Simply put, social media metrics is the data you gather and use to measure the performance of your social media campaigns and what that means for your company’s bottom line. Metrics help you determine whether the time you’re spending on social media marketing is paying off as far as your company’s ROI.

Want an idea of how others view your company and your content? How about an accurate look at your investment in this ever-changing marketing platform? That’s what metrics are for. Keep in mind that the purpose of social media marketing is to raise brand awareness—awareness of you, your company, and your product. You want people to see your tweets and Facebook posts and then visit your website (a website visit is a different marketing metric all together, but a social media post can lead them to your site). The bottom line, then, is your bottom line: Are your posts attracting people who turn into paying customers?

Metric Basics

So . . . how do you make the most of metrics? There are a lot of different metrics you can gather data from, and though some are really in-depth, our purpose here is to introduce you to what social media metrics are and why and how you should use them.

The following metrics pertain to how your content performs across your social media platforms. Though each social media platform has its own specific metrics, we’ll save those details for another post. Right now, let’s look at the universal metrics you want to be aware of:

Reach. This refers to the number of people who actually see your content. It helps you know how far your content is reaching and how big your audience is.
Impressions. This is the number of times your content is displayed or presented to an audience and is based on whether or not a person clicks on it.
Engagement. This refers to the number of interactions people have with your content in the form of likes, shares, comments, retweets, etc.

Of these three metrics, engagement is the one you want to concentrate on because good engagement metrics tells you that people are involved with your content, which makes them more likely to venture over to your site, blog, or product page. Although, without reach and impressions, engagement can’t happen. But it’s a two-way street. A post that receives significant quality engagement will get displayed in front of more audiences, causing the number of impressions to increase. You can look at engagement as the ultimate goal of your content, because that content is the lead that will hopefully turn readers into paying customers.

Goals!

Be sure to know what you’re tracking and why. How? Setting a few goals for your social media marketing will help you accurately determine whether it’s working or not. In order to properly measure an individual metric, you need to have something to measure it by. You need to know what it is you hope to achieve with each post. For example, if you’re aiming to increase engagement with your followers, your goals can consist of X number of shares, X number of comments, and X number of new followers.

You can measure each of these goals by factors such as audience growth rate, which compares your audience from one point in time to another; as well as average engagement rate, which compares engagement on each post with the number of overall followers.

As we’ve mentioned, the ultimate goal of social media marketing is to lead people to your product or service. Leads—people who need or are interested in your product or service—come from a number of places, not the least of which is social media. (Other avenues may include trade shows, referrals, or advertisements.) Leads are potential conversions, or people who perform exactly as you hope—they sign up for your email list or a trial, complete a form, or purchase a product. In other words, your post has achieved your desired result.

So How Do I Track All of This?

Now that you have a basic idea of what social media metrics are and why you need to be measuring them, here are some ideas on how to measure them. We’ve got a 101-type list here, but stay tuned as we may have a more in-depth list in the future.

  • The social media platforms you use have built-in reports, i.e., Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, for gathering data.
  • Google Analytics can be used to measure website traffic coming from your social media sites.
  • Social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Edgar offer built-in reports you can review to gauge the performance of the posts on each platform.
  • And check out this comprehensive list of the top twenty-five social media tools for gathering and measuring your analytics.

What more do you want to know about social media metrics? What tools do you use to measure yours? Do you have any tips for our readers? Share in the comments below!

About Lindsay Flanagan

Lindsay Flanagan is a senior editor and project and social media manager at Eschler Editing. She earned her Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and spent over a decade working in higher education before joining the Eschler team. She and her husband are the proud parents of two brilliant daughters and make their home in Heber, Utah.