According a 2023 CMO Survey average spending on social media marketing for U.S. companies is 16% of marketing budgets and it is expected to rise to nearly 25% in 5 years. For B2B products spending is 23% today. Yet the same survey reveals marketers are only 53% confident in social media contributing to company performance. And a Sprout Social survey finds that social media teams’ second biggest challenge is proving ROI.
The days of social media being a part of an experimental budget are gone. With that significant spending comes expectations to meet marketing objectives. Social media budgets are not guaranteed and in some years average spending has gone down. How can you reassure management and clients that social media is a good return on investment? A social media evaluation plan.
An evaluation plan measures success based on social media metrics. Metrics are standards of measurement by which efficiency, performance, or progress can be assessed. They’re important to gain approval and funding to implement social media plans and prove ROI to continue them.
Marketers love digital media because so many things can be measured. Yet the sheer amount of data and options of what can be collected from where may be overwhelming.
The key to understanding social media metrics is knowing how to collect data, track metrics, and identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to link social media actions to marketing objectives for measurement and optimization. A KPI is a key indicator that is used as a type of performance measurement. It’s a metric identified from all the other metrics as being important
Measure Metrics that Support Overall Goals and Objectives
The right key metrics will come from your social media goals that support your main marketing and/or communications objectives. For every objective, you need related social media metrics per platform that determine if your social media plan is working and helping. Here are some example metrics per objective category.
- Awareness: Impressions, Reach
- Engagement: Likes, Comments, Shares, Clicks
- Share of Voice: Volume, Sentiment
- Customer Care: Response Rate, Response Time
- Return on Investment: Referrals, Conversions
Top social media platforms each offer their own analytics such as Meta (Facebook/Instagram) Insights, LinkedIn, Twitter/X, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok analytics. Metrics for social media platforms can also be accessed through third-party software tools and metrics can be collected in unified dashboards and reports.
Other metrics may be used across social platforms such as engagement rate and cost per engagement. Engagement rate measures the amount of interaction social content earns relative to other audience figures such as reach. Engagement rate can be calculated against reach, posts, or impressions. Cost per engagement is the total amount spent divided by total engagements.
The metrics that are right for your plan depend on your unique objectives and what management or your client considers to be valuable. Once you understand the platform metrics, link the specific metrics for each platform as KPIs to specific marketing and communications objectives.
Create a Social Media Metrics Table for Your Evaluation Plan
A social media metrics template helps organize and show how social media data and plan objectives connect to measure the success of social media efforts. Place marketing and/or communication objectives across the top – one column per objective. In the left column, place each social media platform – one row per platform.
(Click on template image to download a PDF)
Specify your marketing or communications objectives following SMART guidelines ensuring they’re Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Examples of situations that would lead to different objectives and metrics are shown below. A single organization or business may have all these objectives and more if they’re quantified and assigned metric KPIs for each social platform.
- A startup or business with a new product or service may be focused on building awareness among a certain target audience (impressions, reach).
- A company or organization may have issues with brand reputation and want to increase share of voice to change perception (volume, sentiment).
- A business needs to drive sales leads or online purchases (referrals, conversion).
- A brand needs to focus on retention of customers for continued sales or recruiting new customers via word-of-mouth (likes, comments, shares, clicks).
These KPI metrics can be used to measure performance at the beginning of a social media plan, at the end, every quarter, month, weekly, or even daily. Overall strategies and plans should be set and reevaluated yearly, but individual campaigns, promotions, and tactics should be measured and optimized continuously throughout the year.
Managers may also require quarterly, monthly, or weekly reports. Many software tools make it easy to set up dashboards of KPI metrics and schedule analytics reports to be generated and automatically sent to specific team members regularly. You should track the effectiveness of different strategies and tactics in dashboards as well.
What if those metrics are not performing well? You might not be using the best social media platforms for your strategy. Find out with this Social Media Platform Guide.