Figuring Out Which Social Media Metrics to Track
By: Nikki Little
Marketers have a serious problem when it comes to which social media metrics to track. There is an abundance of metrics to track and report on, and marketers often choose the wrong ones.
And by wrong, I mean they choose what we like to call “vanity metrics.” These are the low-hanging fruit metrics (likes, comments, shares). I’m not saying you shouldn’t report on those, because it’s important to track the growth of your channels and which content gets shared the most. But, likes on a post, when standing alone, don’t directly correlate to improving/growing a business. The value of these vanity metrics is elevated when combined with meatier metrics (traffic to websites from social channels, new subscribers, downloads, purchases, leads, etc.).
I’d like to borrow a quote from the crazy smart Jay Baer to underscore the importance of choosing the right social media metrics to track for your business:
“The goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media.”
I can already anticipate your questions – “If you’re telling me to go beyond measuring likes, comments and shares, then what the heck else should I measure?”
You’re not going to like the answer, but the answer is, it depends. It depends on your industry, business and ultimately what you’re trying to achieve through social media.
Here’s an example of how the Identity social media team measures success through online efforts with one of our clients:
Direct sales through social channels isn’t one of our main goals. We do generate product sales as a result of the relationships we build with bloggers/influencers online, but we realized early on it was going to be very difficult to tie direct sales to our social efforts (particularly because we don’t have access to analytics for product pages on the company’s headquarter’s website). So, we had to come up with different metrics to track and report on that would show success through our efforts.
- Positioning Twitter (the main social channel we use to share blog content) as one of the top 3 referral sources that drives traffic to the blog each month.
- Having a minimum of 50% of overall monthly visits come from the states we are targeting.
- Drive traffic from our blog to relevant company websites, including the headquarters website (we track the clicks on outbound links through the Events section in Google Analytics).
- Referral traffic coming to the blog from guest contributors (we created a badge contributors can post on their websites/blogs that links back to our site).
If you’re fortunate enough to have the budget to use a social media monitoring and measurement tool, you know those platforms provide a ton of data. The goal is not to whip out reports filled with a hundred charts simply because the tool provides that much data. Rather, you need to figure out which social media metrics to track, then build out your measurement dashboard.
We’re doing this right now with a national brand that is using an enterprise measurement tool. We are helping the client set the goals, create specific KPIs to go under those goals and build dashboards to show how each team member’s efforts are producing success (or, which areas they are falling short on, and how they can improve).
Hopefully after reading this post, it has sunk in that measuring social efforts means nada if you haven’t figured out the best social media metrics to track for your business. This step requires extra effort – no doubt. But it’s absolutely worth it!