Measuring Up: A “This, Not That” List for Social Media Metrics

With recent algorithm changes, bot clean-ups and paid advertising on social media, it can be a challenge to articulate campaign success. As social media managers, it may seem like an enticing option to report on vanity numbers such as likes, retweets and impressions to show quick progress and to keep clients happy. However, these numbers can be easily manipulated, hard to recreate and can lead to stagnant social media campaigns.

Providing your client with sustainable, actionable metrics can prove true return on investment and can be trusted for accurate insight to guide strategy.

Instead of pumping your campaign with the data equivalent to sugary, caffeinated beverages which will lead to an inevitable crash and burn, begin tracking actionable metrics. When reporting on social media analytics, put an emphasis:

On: Reach

Reach represents the unique number of people who saw your content at least once. Unlike impressions, reach counts the number of individual people who saw your post. This is important because it demonstrates that your content is reaching a clearly defined number of users and leaves no guessing work to be done.

Not: Impressions

Impressions are defined as the number of times a post from your page is displayed, whether the post is clicked or not. This number will always be inherently higher than reach which is why it is tempting to report on. However, this metric is convoluted and provides no real insight into how your content is performing. If your post receives 1,000 impressions, it’s unknown if 1,000 different people viewed this post or 100 people saw your post ten times. Avoid including this metric in your reports whenever possible.

On: Engagement rate

Engagement rate is a percentage that measures the number of people your post reached divided by the number of times people engaged with your post (e.g., likes, comments, shares, retweets). This metric is a reliable indicator of how well your content is resonating with your audience. According to a study conducted by Rival IQ, a social media analytics platform, the average engagement rate per post across all industries is 0.16% on Facebook, 1.7% on Instagram and 0.046% on Twitter.

Not: Likes

While likes are necessary, they don’t provide an accurate picture of how your content is performing as engagement rates do. Knowing how many people your post reached, and how many enjoyed it enough to comment, like, retweet or share is more valuable than just counting the number of likes. This is especially important when paid promotions come into play. Let’s say your organic content receives typically about 30-40 engagements and reaches 500 people. If you’re boosting your content and it’s reaching 4,000 people now but only receiving a similar 40-50 engagements, you may want to reevaluate when you’re boosting, what you’re boosting, demographic targeting and how much it costs you to boost your content.

On: Page followers

The number of followers a page on Facebook has equals the number of people who have agreed to receive updates from your profile. Facebook followers represent the total number of people who could have your content appear in their News Feed organically. More emphasis should be put on this metric because it is a more accurate indicator of a page’s overall success.

Not: Page likes

Page likes on Facebook are a vanity number because they do not reflect the number of people a page will deliver its content to. If someone likes your page and then unfollows the account, they would have to revisit your page to see any of the content you publish. The like then only serves as a pretty number that promises no future benefits.

Monitoring and recording these metrics is a good starting point to ensure you achieve your desired campaign results. While there are plenty of metrics available to include in your analytical reporting, it is crucial to choose metrics that align with campaign goals, industry sector and client.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Padilla blog, an AVENIR GLOBAL company.

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