The Business Dictionary defines metrics as standards of measurement by which efficiency, performance, or progress can be assessed. In social media marketing the numbers behind social media efforts are very important. Yet, many get overwhelmed with amount of data and options of what can be collected and where. In this post I will cover the basics of collecting social media data, tracking social media metrics and identifying KPIs (key performance indicators). I also include a template to make sense of it all and link social media actions to business goals and marketing objectives for social measurement and optimization.
First we will take a quick look at some of the detailed social media metrics top social channels offer through their own analytics. Sprout Social provides a nice survey of the social media metrics that matter to marketers. They detail the comprehensive stats you can get from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I have added Instagram and YouTube as additional examples.
Social Media Channel Specific Metrics:
Facebook Insights offers metrics on page posts such as likes (unlikes, organic likes, paid likes), reach, engagement, engagement rate, impressions, and demographic information for fans, plus additional people you have engaged with and reached. There are also detailed video stats including views for 3 seconds, 30 seconds or 95% of total video length.
Twitter Analytics offers similar metrics including total tweets, tweet impressions, profile visits, mentions, followers, tweets linking to you, engagement rate, link clicks, retweets, likes and replies. It provides demographic, lifestyle, consumer behavior and mobile information about followers.
LinkedIn Analytics provides metrics on post performance with metrics like impressions, clicks, interactions, followers, views, unique visitors and engagement. They include details on visitor demographics on business focused variables such as seniority, industry, company size and function.
Pinterest Analytics delivers metrics for profile impressions, daily viewers, pins, repins, clicks and favorites. In addition Pinterest provides demographic and interests insights for pin viewers.
Instagram Insights promises tracking metrics like top posts, reach, impressions and engagement data. It also delivers demographic data on followers such as gender, age and location.
YouTube Analytics provides data in different reports such as subscribers, subscriber status, traffic, traffic sources, views, watch time, earnings, likes, dislikes, comments, shares, favorites, devices, audience retention and organic versus paid traffic. YouTube also offers demographic information on viewers such as location, age and gender.
These are just six of the top social media channels. Other social channels offer their own version of metrics you can obtain along with many third party software tools. New ones include Yelp Metrics and Foursquare Attribution. For a list of over 50 top social media channels by category visit my post 2016 Social Media Update. All these options can be overwhelming and many marketers can easily get bogged down and distracted by the minutia of dozens of metrics and reports for each social channel.
Linking Channel Metrics to Marketing Objectives:
The key to making all this data more usable and actionable is understanding the bigger picture as it relates to your unique business goals and then linking the specific metrics for each channel as KPIs to marketing objectives. I have created the Social Media Metrics Template below to help organize and visualize how specific social media channel data and business/marketing objectives come together to measure the success of social media marketing efforts.
In this template you want to first go back and identify broader business goals making sure marketing objectives are quantified and time bound. A start up or business with a new product/service may be focused on building awareness among a certain target audience (views, reach, impressions, demographic data, etc.). Another company or organization may have issues with reputation and are looking to change perception (negative to positive sentiment). Or perhaps the business needs to drive leads or online sales (traffic sources, conversion pages, etc.). Maybe a brand needs to focus on retention of existing customers for continued sales and recruiting new customers via word-of-mouth (likes, comments, shares, etc.). An organization can also have all these objectives and more as long as they are quantified and assigned unique KPIs for each social channel.
A big help with linking social activity to business goals and ultimately proving ROI is integrating Google Analytics on websites with social media. The new Google Analytics Social Reports are especially useful in breaking down social traffic to know how and which social media marketing is working. The Social Conversions report shows which social networks lead to website conversions. Conversions can be anything from a direct sale to a download, an email subscription, event registration, quote requests, etc. Setting up Google Analytics goals with specific dollar values per conversion will show dollar values per social channel. This helps determine where to focus time and money beyond followers and engagement and connects social media to the bottom line.
Using social media monitoring, publishing and analytics tools such as Hootsuite, HubSpot, Radian 6/SalesForce, Sysomos, NUVI, Crimson Hexagon, or other tools like SocialMention, TrueSocialMetrics, Sprout, or Buffer can help you track and organize all these social metrics. Visit my Social Media Tools & Resources page for a more comprehensive list of options.
Social Media Metrics Categories:
For a broader look at metrics Buffer Social boils it down to the stats that matter in key social media metrics categories. One option comes from Jay Baer of Convince & Convert. He suggests four categories of social media metrics to measure success of content marketing efforts.
- Consumption metrics are how many people viewed, downloaded, or listened to social media content.
- Sharing metrics measure how relevant the social content is and how often is it shared with others.
- Lead-gen metrics measure how often social media content consumption results in a lead.
- Sales metrics measure if money was made from social media content.
The last category is often the most important, but marketers have known for decades that not all marketing action is directly attributable to sales. Traditional media advertising such as TV/radio ads, billboards or magazine and newspaper ads are seen as valuable contributors to metrics such as awareness, opinion, or recall, but don’t always lead to a direct traceable sales action. These contributions are often expressed in traditional marketing with the sales or purchase funnel. Here each category of marketing effort is seen as a valuable contributor to the progression of an important stage in the purchase process. You can think of these social media metric categories in a similar way – each is important and leads to the others.
Buffer Social’s article also points out another option first proposed by Google Co-Founder Aninash Kauskih in 2011. He suggests the following consistent social media metrics categories across all social channels.
- Conversation rate is the number of conversations per social media post and channel. KPI’s are different per channel. For example, on Facebook and LinkedIn it is comments and on Twitter it is replies.
- Amplification rate measures the number of shares per social media post and channel. Again KPIs are channel specific such as reshares for Facebook, retweets for Twitter and repins for Pinterest.
- Applause rate accounts for the various ways users can promote a post on different networks. KPIs vary per channel from likes on Facebook and +1s on Google+ to hearts on Instagram.
- Economic value is the sum of short-term revenue, long-term revenue, and cost savings. Here Aninash brings it all back to Google Analytics with a KPI such as Per Visit Goal Values. This can then be linked to source visits by social channel.
The number of social media channels, each channel’s unique metrics and social media monitoring and anlyatics options can be overwhelming. But if you take a step back and look at broader business goals, tie specific metrics (KPIs) to each marketing objective and then find the right tools to collect and monitor that data it becomes much more manageable and actionable.
For a systematic process on how to develop and optimize a complete social media marketing plan consider my book Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution. It provides more insights into the big picture in social media strategy. Get a free preview of Table of Contents, Forward and Chapter One in the Kindle version via this link.