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Published on December 15th, 2018 | by Sunit Nandi

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What Are the Key Social Media Metrics and How Should you Measure Them to Determine your Success?

One of the most exciting aspects of social media marketing is also one of the most challenging because it is always disruptively changing. The key social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are consistently introducing new features and updates that are influencing how businesses execute their digital campaign tactics. However, the one key indicator for success will always be data. But, what key social media metrics should you be measuring and how?

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Measuring the data from social media campaigns should always remain as the top priority for businesses. However, the primary challenge for marketers is often determining which metrics are the most important and how they should be measured. Here are the most important social media metrics that should be analysed to identify key performance indicators (KPI’s) and return on investment (ROI).

Why is Return on Investment Important When Using Social Media?

So, your business is already using social media. Whether you have a well thought out strategy or not you are going to be sharing updates, retweeting content and answer customer queries on your channels. Regardless of what type of business you are, your customers or target audience are on social media, so if you want to reach them with your messages, then you don’t have a choice. You need social media.

However, there is a questionable problem. Not all social media platforms are the same and not every strategy or tactic is going to work for your business. So, this means that it is crucial to find a way of measuring the success of your social media efforts, what works and what doesn’t and to measure the return on the activity. Without an effective way of measuring return on investment, you are mostly playing a guessing game.

And, this is precisely why it’s vital to track and analyse the social media metrics that are the most important to your business. With these metrics, you can measure the return on investment from your social media marketing efforts and make smarter business decisions for the future.

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The Top Social Media Metrics That You Should Be Measuring

It’s worth noting at this point that not all social media metrics may be relevant or essential to your business so the first thing to do is identify the key ones and what you’re hoping to get back from the activity.

Depending on your business type your goals might include:

  • Generating digital noise around your business
  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Generating leads that result in sales
  • Growing your business’s network of followers

You may have other goals that you wish to achieve through social media, but the key is for you to figure this out to assess whether social media marketing is working for you and your business.

1. Social Media Followers

Many marketing professionals deem the number of followers a channel has as a vanity metric. And, this is rightly so. How many social media users that follow your business is nowhere near as important as how many engage with the content. However, if your business’s goal is increasing your professional network and follower numbers, then the number of followers does still play a role in your key performance indicators.

2. Social Media Follower Growth

An alternative way to look at the number of followers you have is the growth. This indicates whether your business is growing its digital presence or if your followers are leaving you. If your business identifies social media followers as a critical metric to measure, then the growth rate should be one too. If your number of followers show consistent growth over a considerable amount of time, then you can justify the amount of activity and effort that’s been put in to grow the channels.

Another good thing to come out of measuring the follower growth is that it will show which channels are growing faster than others and allow you to put in the extra effort on the most popular ones. For example, if you have put in a considerable amount of time on Twitter and the growth is motionless then there isn’t any reason to carry on grinding away at all.

And, one of the great things with this metric is that monitoring and analysing follower growth is incredibly simple to do. There are many social media tools online that you can use to track follower growth but a simple and regularly updated spreadsheet is just as useful as any.

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It is important to stress that growing your social media followers takes time and this is why some businesses fall into the mistake of buying them. However, buying followers does more harm than good and here’s why.

A. Buying followers don’t generate your business any more sales

Buying followers don’t increase the number of people that genuinely interested in your business. Which ultimately doesn’t lead to any more purchases being made.

B. Engagement rates will decrease

These ‘fake’ social media followers will not interact with any of your content which will damage your engagement rate. This will tell Facebook/Instagram that your followers are not interested in your posts which will damage any chances of your content organically appearing in front of your genuine users in the future.

C. You risk damaging digital presence and reputation

Social media users are very observant when it comes to seeing things online. The chances are that somebody is going to notice your page going from 50 followers to 5,000 in the blink of an eye. It also looks very suspicious if none of your 5,000 followers are interacting with your content.

D. You could risk losing your social media accounts if you buy followers

Buying followers means that you are violating the social media platform’s terms of service and its known that they delete accounts with fake followers. So, why risk losing your channels and the genuine followers that are interested in your business.

E. It’s a complete waste of money

Above all else, you could be spending your money on better marketing activities. Your money could be going towards genuine followers that will help you see your return on investment.

3. Social Media User Mentions

Your social media mentions are a great way to monitor who is genuinely talking about your business online. Closely tracking this will show you:

  • Whether your followers like your products or services.
  • How engaged your followers are with the content you are posting.
  • Give you an insight into when the best days and times are to post.

It is also good practice to track your competitor’s social media mentions so you can measure your business’s performance against theirs. If your business’s ultimate goal is to take the lion’s share within your market then tracking your competitor’s mentions is a crucial metric to measure on a regular basis.

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4. Brand Sentiment

Measuring sentiment is an excellent way of gaining an understanding of what your followers think of your business. Each time a follower posts about your business it will be assigned a positive, negative or neutral sentiment. Monitoring brand sentiment is great for when you launch a new product or service. You can see what your followers think at an early stage and act quickly to make any changes.

5. Popular Social Media Influencers

Social media influencers and influencer marketing is becoming more and more popular amongst businesses of all calibres. And, with good reason. Influencers help companies grow their followers at high speed, and they are generally cheaper than running paid advertising campaigns.

It’s a relevantly new and booming area of interest, but it’s essential to monitor the influence of users that are talking about your brand on social media. If your business is being talked about by users that have a high level of influence over their followers then is undoubtedly an excellent thing.

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6. The Top Engaging Social Media Channels

If one of your business’s goals for social media marketing is driving traffic to your website then measuring this metric is crucial to measure. However, it goes beyond just driving clicks to the site. It is valuable to track what your social media followers are doing when they get to your website. Do they leave straight away or do they interact and engage with the content?

7. The Top Referring Social Media Channels

Like the previous metric, if your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then you need to know which platforms are bringing in the most visits. By monitoring this, you will be able to ask yourself questions like this:

  • Which social media channels are providing little return for the amount of time put in?
  • Why are we driving so many clicks to the website from Instagram? Could we replicate the strategy and tactics on our other social media channels?
  • Do we put enough time into marketing ourselves on Twitter?

Monitoring the top referring social media channels can be a very powerful metric to measure when tracking return on investment. And, with this metric, you don’t need to play a guessing game. You have the proof and data to back it up.

8. The Total Social Media Conversions

By monitoring the total social media conversions brings in all the conversions from all the channels instead of fragmenting them. In general, you want to grow month on month, and a good thing that this will present is any decreases in conversions. Then you can ask yourself the questions as to what caused this dip. Did you implement a slightly different strategy on your Instagram account? That could have been the mistake.

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9. Revenue Generated as a Result of Social Media Activity

If you have a meeting with your bosses and you want to justify the effort that you have been putting in on the company’s social media channels, then this is the most important metric to present. If you can directly pinpoint a drawbridge between your social media activity to cash coming into the bank then analysing return on investment will be an easy task. If you are using social media to its full advantage and seeing a significant return on investment then monitoring the revenue coming in as a result can be very rewarding.

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About the Author

I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.



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