The Best Metrics to Show Off Your Social Media Efforts

SIMPLE1Social media and its myriad metrics introduced a whole new landscape of accountability to communications professionals. In the early days, it was exciting and interesting to watch how a piece of content would generate likes and shares. Or to see how just one tweet could bring you so many retweets or new followers.

Then Facebook and Twitter started adding metrics like “engagement” with their own specific formulas while platforms sprung up like Pinterest and Instagram that offered even more metrics. Thinking that they would make sense of this clutter, vendors emerged like Simply Measured and Audiense (formerly Social Bro) that offered even more metrics and the ability to slice and dice data a million different ways.

All of which led to mass confusion (and frustration) among professional communicators and their agencies. Most of them threw every metric available into a report in order to justify the time they were spending (or wasting) on social media. As a result, reports rarely contained comparable data, and none of them accurately reported the actual impact that a program had on one’s business.

Today, there’s a growing consensus among professionals that most social media metrics are BS. It’s a far more useful exercise to focus on meaningful metrics than to get overloaded with many. So to help cut back on any confusion (or frustration) you may have, here is a chart with 9 popular communications questions, social media metrics to address them, and how to calculate those metrics:

The question you want to answer: The metric to answer it:How to calculate the metric:
1. How engaging is your content? Engagement rate For a given time period, take the total number of engagements (shares + likes + comments) generated and divide by the total number of posts that generated those engagements.
Engagement Rate = Total Engagements / Total Posts
2. To what extent is your content becoming more engaging over time?Change in engagement rate (see above)Calculate engagement rate (see above), weekly, or monthly, and then compare.
3. How engaged is your audience?Percentage audience engagement: The percentage of the people who follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook or are part of your group on LinkedIn that are actually engaging with your content. Divide the number of followers who engage with your content by the total number of followers.
Percentage Engagement =
# Of Followers Who Engage / Total Number Of Followers
4. To what extent is your audience growing more engaged with your content over time?Change in percentage audience engagement (see above) over timeCalculate percentage audience engagement (see above), monthly, or weekly, and then compare.
5. As measured by engagement, what was the most effective piece of content we published last month? Engagement rate per piece of content Track the total number of engagements for each hashtag or piece of content. Rank them from highest to lowest. If appropriate you can give extra weight or a multiplier for desirable comments that leave the reader more likely to do business with or support your organization.
If comments are strongly undesirable or there is a large number of both desirable and undesirable comments, you may want to calculate the net ratio between positive and negative to compare change over time.
6. How effective is social at driving traffic and/or revenue?Percent conversions from social Make sure you’ve set up conversions in Google Analytics, Omniture, or whatever you are using. Then track the percentage of all conversions that come from social (in Google Analytics you can find it under Conversions –Multi Channel Funnels).

7. What was the most cost-effective campaign in terms of engagement?Cost per engagement (CPE) by campaignFor each campaign, take the total all-in costs of the campaign and divide it by the total number of engagements per campaign. This is the CPE for that campaign. Now compare CPE between campaigns.
8. What was the most cost effective campaign in terms of driving conversions? Cost per conversion (CPC) by campaignFor each campaign, take the total all-in costs of the campaign and divide it by the total number of conversions per campaign. This is the CPC for that campaign. Now compare CPC between campaigns.
9. Which was better: paid social ads or organic social outreach? Cost per conversion (see above) Calculate cost per conversion (see above) for both and compare.

About Author

Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.