Social media metrics are an important tool to help you analyze your marketing efforts across various social channels. Small businesses can use metrics like their rate of audience growth, or share of voice to evaluate whether their social media strategy is resulting in the right type of engagement, and is helping them meet their marketing goals.
Here are nine social media metrics you should know and use in your small business:
1. Traffic From Social
One of the important things to consider is how much of your site traffic comes from various social channels, and how that compares to other sources like organic search. In order to evaluate this, you have to measure the amount of traffic coming from various social media channels. Most commonly this is done with a tool like Google Analytics, a social media management tool, or a built-in tool included with website platforms like Squarespace.
To determine the rate of your traffic that is coming from your social media marketing strategy, first add up the traffic from each channel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest), in a given month. Then, divide that by your total traffic for that month. This gives you the percentage of traffic that came from social media.
(Traffic from Social Media / Total Traffic) x 100 = % of Traffic from Social
For example, if last month your website had 3,000 page views, with 750 of them coming from Facebook and another 425 coming from Pinterest, your total traffic from social would be 1,175. To determine your percentage from social, the math looks like this:
(1,175 / 3,000) x 100 = 39%
Your marketing strategy should include specific goals for the amount of traffic you want to drive from different channels (organic search, direct, social media, etc.), which means that measuring each helps you determine if you’re meeting your goals. For social media, that means understanding the amount and percentage of traffic you generate from each channel and comparing that to your goal.
2. Rate of Audience Growth
If you are using organic social (meaning you aren’t paying to promote posts), the number of people who follow your company determines the overall audience you are able to reach. This means growing your audience is important for increasing awareness of your brand and generating leads through social media.
Instead of just measuring your followers in raw numbers, it’s more helpful to compare your growth over time since this takes into account trends in how your audience is changing over time. If you are seeing positive growth, it provides you with a benchmark you can use to evaluate your overall marketing strategy. If your audience is declining (negative growth), then you know that your strategy should focus more on how to grow your platform.
You can measure audience growth by dividing the number of followers at the end of the month by the number of followers at the beginning of the month and multiplying by 100. Then, subtract 100 in order to reflect the rate of growth. Otherwise, you’ll simply have a comparison of your audience size from month to month, instead of the rate of growth.
[(# of Followers End of Month / # of Followers Start of Month) x 100] – 100 = Growth Rate
For example, if you started the month with 1,000 followers, and had 1,150 at the end of the month, the math would look like this:
[(1,150 / 1,000) x 100] – 100 = 15%
On the other hand, if you started the month with 1,000 followers, but finished with 985, the math would look like:
[(985 / 1,000) x 100] – 100 = -15%
Since the rate of growth is negative, it tells you the rate at which your followers are declining. Over time, you can use your audience growth rate to measure the effectiveness of your audience-building strategies and compare them from month-to-month. This helps you make changes to your social media strategy on a regular basis to make sure you’re sharing the most relevant content for your audience.
3. Content Mix
As you develop a strategy for sharing content on social media, it is important to consider the types of content you will post. Different content forms like video, photos, or long-form text have different levels of engagement and should be used as a part of a social media strategy that is tailored to your audience and objectives.
In addition, you should consider how different content purposes can affect your overall strategy. For example, you want to be careful to balance promotional content with informational or educational. Promotional content like a graphic to tell your audience you are having a sale can help drive conversions, but only if it’s shared in a reasonable balance with other types of posts.
Once you have an idea of the mix of content you want to share for your audience, you should track what you publish so that you’re able to be sure you hit your goals. This is more of a manual process, and it’s far easier to be intentional up front as you plan and schedule content. By using a content calendar, you can make sure you schedule the right type of content.
4. Total Post Reach
Since the nature of social media means that your content can be shared with far more than just your followers, evaluating the total reach is helpful in understanding your ability to get in front of an audience. The total reach of a post represents the number of people for whom your content appeared in their feed. It doesn’t mean that they took any action, or necessarily that they even noticed it. It does mean, however, that the content was displayed in front of them.
Calculating post reach isn’t something you can do on your own, but rather is usually a metric provided within various social media tools. Post reach is affected by social media platform algorithms as well as the level of engagement of your audience, including likes, shares, retweets, etc. Fortunately, there are plenty of great tools to choose from. In fact, I’ve included some of the most popular at the end of this article to help you get started.
5. Share of Voice
Share of voice is a metric that gives you a representation of how much of a given topic or online conversation is being driven by the content you share. It helps you quantify the extent to which your brand is driving the conversation on social media, and gives you a representation of the level of attention that your brand is able to generate on a given topic.
For example, if your company were to run an ad during the Super Bowl, you might monitor conversations and posts on social media that are related to Super Bowl ads. The total number of posts about your ad, divided by the total number of posts about all Super Bowl ads, gives you a percentage of the conversation that represents your share of voice.
(# of Posts About Your Brand / # of Posts on Chosen Topic) x 100 = Share of Voice
In the Super Bowl ad example, let’s say that there were 500,000 social media posts about ads run during the game. Your ad generated 22,000 posts when people commented on it, shared it with friends, or interacted in some way on social media.
(22,000 / 500,000) x 100 = 4.4% Share of Voice
6. Click-Through Rate
Click-through rate measures the number of people who actually click on a link in a social media post, to visit a landing page or other content on your website, compared with the total number of impressions. This metric can help you determine whether or not the content you share on social media is capturing the attention of your audience in a way that drives them to engage with your business.
Click-through rate is measured by dividing the number of clicks by the total number of impressions and then multiplying by 100:
(# of clicks / total impressions) x 100 = Click-thru-rate
For example, if you shared a Facebook post with a link to a landing page on your website, you would first look at the number of clicks you received from that social media post. Then, you would divide that by the total number of impressions of your post. So, if your post had 1,500 impressions, and you received 125 clicks, the math would look like this:
(125/1,500) x 100 = 8.3%
Pro tip: While you can track your inbound traffic using a tool like Google Analytics, be sure to set up specific URLs in the Campaign URL tool. This will allow you to create a unique link that you use on a social media post so that you can easily track traffic that comes directly from that post. Otherwise it can be difficult to track your click-through rate since you won’t know that traffic to your landing page came specifically from your social media post.
7. Conversion Rate
Similar to click-through rate, conversion rate represents the number of people who saw your social media post and then actually took some action to either make a purchase or become a lead. The main difference is that instead of simply clicking through to a landing page or to your website, they have taken whatever action you desired from the post, and have become a customer as a result of that action.
For example, you might have posted an Instagram post with a graphic promoting one of your products. If you’ve linked your Instagram profile to your ecommerce site, you can actually enable users to make a purchase. Conversion rate would measure the number of people who made a purchase based on that post, compared to the total number of people who were shown the promotion.
Or, perhaps you promoted a free e-book on your Facebook page with a link to a landing page on your website where a visitor could enter their information in exchange for the free download. Your conversion rate would measure the number of individuals who actually filled out the form in comparison to the total number of people who saw the post.
The formula for conversion rate is the same as for CTR, with the only difference being that you use the total number of conversions instead of number of clicks. The importance of this difference is that your CTR is going to be higher than your conversion rate since some people who click on a link in your post won’t actually “convert” by taking action on your site. As a formula, it looks like this:
(# of conversions/total # of impression) x 100 = conversion rate
So, for example, if your Facebook post for the free e-book had 5,000 impressions, and 40 downloads, the math would look like this:
(40/5,000) x 100 = 0.8%
That may not seem like a very high percentage, but conversion rates are always much lower than your CTR. In fact, a conversion rate (for a visitor who becomes a lead, or makes a purchase) of anything around one or 2% is not unusual at all, depending on your specific industry and market.
8. Leads Generated
Many small businesses use social media to attract and generate leads. Understanding which types of content is likely to generate leads can help you tailor your strategy and make it more effective. This means that tracking the number of leads is an important metric that helps you evaluate the return on your investment, and make adjustments accordingly. Lead generation is a specific type of conversion, as opposed to someone who makes an immediate purchase.
Calculating the leads you generate from social media requires that you use tools like a landing page on your website, or a form that feeds information into customer relationship management (CRM) software. That helps you capture new leads and track where they come from.
Pro tip: be sure to make it a part of your lead capture strategy to ask leads how they found you. Otherwise it can be difficult to know exactly which marketing efforts are actually resulting in new leads and customers. Using a CRM like HubSpot allows you to create simple forms you can embed in your website which allow you to not only capture information like an email address and a name, but also ask questions that help you qualify your leads.
When paying for advertisements on social media, it’s important to understand and evaluate the total amount of money you pay for each click on a link in your post. This is known as cost-per-click (CPC), and helps you evaluate the return on your investment (ROI), and determine your cost for acquiring new leads and customers.
Unlike other metrics we’ve discussed, your CPC is usually based on a rate charged by the advertising platform you choose to use to promote your social media posts. For example, a CPC on Facebook might be very different from your CPC on Pinterest. In addition, CPC can be affected by other variables like the size of your audience, your industry, or the types of content you are wanting to promote.
Most social media platforms charge a specific rate for the number of times your ad, or promoted post, will be shown. This is known as impressions. For example, you might pay $11.20 per 1,000 impressions. Out of that 1,000 impressions, you might get 15 clicks. That would mean your cost-per-click was 75 cents.
Or, perhaps you set a budget of $50.00 for your promoted post. At the same rate, your ad would be shown 4,464 times. In this case, you had a slightly higher click-through rate, and 75 people clicked on your promoted post. In this case, your CPC was only 67 cents. For more about specific social media advertising costs, be sure to check out our guide to advertising on Facebook.
The math for determining your cost-per-click is as follows:
total spend / number of clicks = cost-per-click
Engagement is a measure of how your audience interacts with your social media posts. Depending on your overall marketing strategy, and the specific purpose for each post, engagement can be a valuable way to measure whether or not your content is resonating with your audience. One important thing to remember is that tracking engagement alone doesn’t give you a full picture of your audience sentiment, which we’ll look at next.
Here are four aspects of audience engagement you should consider:
It can be tempting to measure likes as the best sign of whether your audience is engaged with your content. While the number of “likes” a photo or video receive can give your ego a boost, it’s not the best way to evaluate whether or not your message has hit its intended target. On the other hand, page likes are a valuable form of engagement because they provide you with an opportunity to continue to grow your audience and share your message.
The number of times a video is played on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can be a valuable indicator of engagement, however, it’s worth remembering that depending on the platform, you only know that a video was started. That doesn’t mean that someone watched the entire video, and it certainly doesn’t tell you what they thought of it. It simply tells you the number of times a video was played.
A more valuable metric of engagement is the number of times a post was shared. On Facebook, this means that someone shared your content to their own timeline. On Twitter, they might have retweeted it. Instagram doesn’t allow direct sharing of posts, so shares can be harder to measure. On Pinterest, you can track the number of times your “Pin” was repinned.
The final form of engagement is comments that your followers leave on your social media posts. These provide you with instant feedback about the engagement your audience has with your content, and allows you to have conversations with them. Similar to the comment features on Facebook or Instagram, the reply feature on Twitter has the same effect. This feedback can help you evaluate whether or not your content is reaching your audience the way you intended.
Pro tips: While engagement can be less tangible as a single metric, the overall combination of likes, shares, comments, and video plays gives you a picture of how your audience is responding to your content. It’s important to take each into consideration and look at how your audience engages overall, instead of focusing on any one specific form of engagement.
11. Audience Sentiment
Audience sentiment is a metric that measures the overall positive or negative sentiment expressed about a brand online. Instead of only looking at @mentions of your brand, sentiment looks at feeling behind the mention of your company. While audience sentiment is usually tracked by larger businesses, it doesn’t have to be limited to social media influencers or brands with millions of followers. Every brand that uses social media should pay attention.
Audience sentiment is measured by first counting the total number of mentions of your brand, and then segmenting those into positive, neutral, or negative. Deciding which category a mention belongs in is rather subjective, but the important characteristic is to be consistent. For example, if a mention shares excitement, enthusiasm, or praise for your company, you would consider that positive. If the mention is a complaint or criticism, that would count as a negative.
Once you have grouped the mentions, you can calculate sentiment by dividing the number of positive mentions into the total number of mentions for a given period. Then repeat this for both neutral mentions and negative mentions. This gives you a representation of the makeup of your audience sentiment.
(# of positive mentions / total number of mentions) x 100 = positive sentiment
For example, if you wrote a blog post and shared it on social media, you might count the number of replies to your post, the number of total shares, and the number of other social media posts about your blog post. You might have 140 total number of mentions or replies, with 84 of them “positive,” 40 of them “neutral,” and 16 of them negative.
In this example, you would calculate your audience sentiment as follows:
(84/140) x 100 = 60% positive
(40/140) x 100 = 29% neutral
(16/140) x 100 = 11% negative
Why Social Media Metrics Matter to Your Business
Social media has become an important marketing tool for small businesses because it allows you to target your ideal customers and build an audience that you can use to generate leads. It also provides a mechanism for increasing engagement and loyalty among your customers. However, if you aren’t measuring the important factors that contribute to a successful overall strategy, it isn’t likely social media will make any difference to your bottom line.
Specifically, metrics like social media KPIs, or key performance indicators, can help you to:
- Better understand your audience: By measuring how your audience interacts with your company’s social media presence, you can learn more about who they are and what matters to them.
- Create more effective content: As you evaluate your engagement and conversion rate, you can fine-tune the types of content you create and share across your social media platforms to better reflect the way your audience is interacting with your content.
- Generate more leads: Understanding how well your content is leading to conversions and/or leads can help you to make adjustments and share more effective content that leads not just to followers, but to new customers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I decide which are the most important social media metrics?
The reality is that the most important social media metrics will be different for every business. You should consider your overall strategy, and measure the things that will help you evaluate whether you are reaching your goals. For example, if you are using social media to generate new customers, conversion rate and lead generation are more important than share of voice.
Should I try to measure metrics on my own, or hire an expert?
The simple answer is “yes.” Yes, you should definitely take responsibility for measuring the effectiveness of your social media strategy, and yes, it often makes sense to hire outside experts who can help you make sense of the data. Fortunately, we’ve created a guide to the best social media marketing agencies for small businesses.
Bottom Line: Social Media KPIs & Metrics
With social media, as with all things, you get what you measure. That’s because your focus ends up on the things you choose to track and monitor, so it makes sense that you should place that focus on the key indicators that help you determine whether or not your strategy is helping you reach your goals.