Social Media KPIs You Should Be Using

More than a decade in, social media can still feel like the Wild West for most businesses. Most CEOs know they need to have an active presence on social media, but they don’t really know how to measure their company’s performance.

“Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half,” quipped department store magnate John Wannamaker in the early 20th century. Or maybe it was Henry Ford, or J.C. Penny. The attribution gets a bit hazy after a century of repeated use.

Regardless of who said it, social media hasn’t really solved the problem of measuring advertising’s effectiveness. Sure, it’s eminently measurable, but capturing social media’s true ROI and understanding what all of those measurements actually mean remains problematic.

Still, measurement is important. Critical, even.

It’s easy to get drawn into a sea of potential metrics. But don’t lose the plot. Focus on the following core social media Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the relative success of your program. From there, you can add on other metrics specific to the unique needs of your business.

Following

Who’s following your account? This can go beyond raw numbers to explore the demographics or psychographics of your following to make sure you are attracting the right personas to your social media accounts. But be sure to put the number of followers you have in context – by itself, it’s largely a vanity metric.  If you have a large number of followers but very low engagement, you are not achieving much with your social media program.

Reach

Measure the organic and paid reach of your social posts. These ‘impressions’ will tell you how many people might have seen your posts, but not how many actually read them – a crucial distinction. And an impression can be served to the same user multiple times. You don’t even need a third-party social media measurement platform to do this, simply check out your Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics.

Engagement

This is where the rubber hits the road – engagement measures how many people interacted with your content. It’s a measure of how your content connects with your audience. Within the broader engagement category, you will want to measure how many people:

  • liked your posts
  • shared your posts
  • commented on your posts
  • clicked the link in your post
  • mentioned your brand

Referral Traffic

If driving people to your website matters to your brand, you’ll want to measure the relative importance of social media to your overall website traffic. For many brands, social media is the top referral source of traffic to their website. With Google analytics, or other analytics platforms, you can identify how much traffic is sent to your web site by each social network. This goes beyond Facebook and Twitter to also include sites like Reddit, Digg and Yammer.

Leads and Conversions

If you are selling a product through your website, you will definitely want to measure how many leads are created through social media and what percentage of those leads convert to paying customers.

Next Steps

Consider these your baseline metrics. From here you can add other, more detailed KPIs based on the needs of your business or organization, including things like cost-per-lead or lifetime customer value.

Pay attention to the results – your KPIs will tell you how relevant your content is and how engaged you are with your audience. It’s the only way you’ll really be able to tell if your social media program is helping deliver the bottom line results your CEO will love.

Allan Gates

Allan Gates is a partner with Bonfire.