With Social Media Marketing Spending Up, Justifying Social Media Performance Is More Important than Ever. This Social Media Metrics Template Can Help.

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.

You need more than Likes today to justify social media marketing spending.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

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)

Social Media Metrics Template Worksheet

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.

A Simple Guide to Influencer Marketing in Social Media.

Guide to Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a growing part of social media strategy. According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) 75% of companies have influencer programs and nearly half (43%) are planning to increase their spending next year. Of companies not using it over a quarter (27%) plan to do so. Yet, there are many forms and methods to structuring an influencer program. To be successful brands must ensure they have a solid strategy rooted in business objectives, target market and best practices. Below is a guide to follow in creating or optimizing an influencer marketing program as part of a broader social media strategy.

Click here for an updated template and guide to influencer marketing.

Objectives and Target Audience: Begin your influencer marketing with business objectives. Are you trying to increase sales or build brand awareness? Do you have a reputation problem and are looking to increase positive sentiment? Are you a B2B brand that wants more leads? Look for the bigger problem or opportunity. Don’t make the mistake of starting with social media objectives that just become an end unto themselves.

Who are you trying to reach? Identify the target market for your product and service. Then turn that market into a target audience or audiences that you want the influencers to reach. You may have one audience active on specific social media platforms. Knowing this will focus your effort on finding influencers popular on those social channels. If multiple target audiences are involved identify every target by objective. Each audience may need to be reached with different platforms, influencers and content. An example is colleges with an annual enrollment objective targeting high school students, parents and alumni. They may also have a second objective of raising funds for a building project targeting alumni, business leaders and state legislators.

Method and Compensation: Influencer marketing can be structured in several ways. Small organizations with a minimal number of influencers or big companies with larger internal resources may want to create and manage their own influencer program. For more help brands can work with influencer platforms or networks that streamline processes and payments and make it easier to find influencers. Fees are charged for the convenience and you may be limited only to influencers in their network. A third option is hiring an Influencer Agency. These agencies provide the most options, customization and access to influencers, but will also cost the most in fees.

Another increasingly popular option for influencer marketing is affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing has been around for many years, but in the past it focused on building websites to draw an audience and send traffic to product links for sales. The retailer rewards the affiliate for each visitor or customer. Today more affiliates are using social media to attract audiences and insert links in social media posts. Instead of paying per post or sending free product, brands pay a commission per sale which could motivate affiliates to send traffic for a longer periods. Options include building and managing a brand affiliate program, working with an affiliate platform and network, or hiring an affiliate agency.

Social Channels: Select the social platforms that make the most sense for brand objectives and target audience. Where is the target audience spending time? What social media networks are they on and where do they look for content in the brand’s industry? Consider options in multiple categories such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts. Also look at niche social platforms such as forums, Medium, Reddit, Quora, or SlideShare. The idea is to match social channel users and social channel content type with target audience and objective.

Type of Influencer: Are you looking for a celebrity (famous in traditional media), a social media star (known for or because of social media ), or a thought leader (known for industry knowledge)? Celebrities can have a lot of advantages including their mass reach and appeal. Yet film, music or sports celebrities can be expensive and people may question the authenticity of their product endorsements. Social media stars may have less followers, but those followers could be more engaged and endorsements could be seen as more believable. Thought leaders are a good choice for certain product or service categories in B2B. A mention or recommendation by an industry leader can carry a lot of weight.

Influencers can also be categorize in terms of follower size. Macro-influencers have 100,000 or more followers. Mid-level-influencers have between 25,000 and 100,000 followers. Micro-influencers can have as little as 50 to 25,000 followers. It may be tempting to only go for the macro-influencers because of their massive reach, but micro-influencers are often more effective. Adweek reports micro-influencer engagement rates can be 60% higher, their buys are 6.7 times more efficient, and they can drive 22 times more conversions. According to the ANA more than half of brands use mid-level (66%) or micro-influencers (59%) while less than half are using macro-influencers (44%). No matter what type of influencer you use a growing concern is influencer fraud. Influencer marketing software companies are working on ways to detect fraud and create industry standards.

Type of Content: Once you have your influencers decide how content will be created and spread. You may think it is best to have the most control, but content created by the brand and merely shared could come across as not genuine. Certain influencers or influencer networks may also have their own standards for what they will or will not do. Consider the pros and cons for each option such as influencer shared brand content, influencer created brand content, or product and service reviews and mentions. Or get creative with options such as influencer brand account takeovers, brand guest content contributions, or collaboration on a contest or giveaway. Another consideration is to repurpose influencer content in other channels and in other forms.

Monitoring and Metrics: Ensure you follow the FTC Endorsement Guidelines. Recently the FTC cracked down by sending out letters to influencers and brands not following the standards and creating deceptive advertising. Brands are responsible for training influencers on these standards and for monitoring their influencers to ensure compliance. Influencers, agencies and brands are all held accountable. Also make sure you have an up-to-date social media, user generated content, and privacy policy. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the new European data-protection law (GDPR) many companies are updating their privacy policies to meet new expectations and standards.

Finally, monitor key metrics per influencer and social channel to measure success. Be sure to identify KPIs that connect back to each business objective. This not only helps prove success but also allows you to optimize the program over time by social channel, influencer and type of content. Setting up key metrics and monitoring in the beginning will simplify social media metrics and help prove ROI. Not all marketers are effectively measuring influencer marketing, but according to the latest State of Influencer Marketing Report, 70% are measuring ROI and those firms average an earn media value of $5.20 per dollar spent on influencer marketing.

As other forms of traditional, digital and social media marketing become more challenging many marketers are adding influencer marketing to their IMC mix. Consider these guidelines when structuring or restructuring your influencer efforts. Also, consider how influencer marketing fits into your overall social strategy by Asking These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Strategy and you should Perform A Social Media Audit at least once a year.