Social Media Metrics That Matter

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Social Media Metrics That Matter

Social Media Marketing is more expensive and time consuming than ever. To understand if you’re getting your money’s worth or spending your time wisely, you need track results of your campaigns and other social media marketing efforts. But which numbers really matter these days?

Popular social networks give you insights, but not all of the metrics they provide are valuable. “Engagement” seems to be the favorite buzzword of social media marketers, but engagement numbers could look great in social network insights, however, they could be fleeting and have little impact on your bottom line.

“Reach” is another buzzword in social media metrics, but “reaching” someone could mean a person might glance for a second or might not even pay attention – kind of like “impression.” Impressions are very loose measurements that may or may not show a return for your social media marketing efforts.

What is more useful than an overall Reach number is when you’re reaching your followers – the days and times when they are most active – because that can help you calibrate when you release your social media messaging for greatest impact.

Here’s a breakdown of some things you should track and how to gauge success.

1. Go beyond the clicks. Most social networks will tell you how many people click to view your post or click on the link in your post. What you want to measure is what happens after that click. Did you have a clear call to action? Did they take that action?

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest utilize a tool called a “tracking pixel” to help measure actions that occur once someone clicks away from the social network to your website. Each network provides its own explanation of their tracking pixel system. Use tracking pixels to get deeper insights about what happens off of social networks but because of your posts to them. That leads us to conversions.

2. Care about conversions. There are many types of conversations that are measurable actions that change the connection between a social media follower to a customer and beyond. Some basic conversions you want to look at are:

Site visits – Measure how many people interact with your posts and actually get to your site from the links you provide.

Sign-ups – If you can get someone to sign up for your emails when they get to your website from a social network, you’re better able to build a relationship with them.

Contact – It’s great to get a visit, but what you really want is some concrete, direct interaction that goes beyond a like.

Purchase – Yes, every company ultimately wants to sell something – a product or service – and you need to know what social media marketing activity is leading to sales.

3. Measure transformations. While most conversions are fairly easy to measure with the right tools in place, customer transformations are a little less concrete. A transformation is more around sentiment and emotion versus a click or a like. The most obvious transformations are when a customer is unhappy and you interact with them online to help solve their issue and turn them into a satisfied customer.

Put a system into place – or use a tool like Sprout Social – to track the complaint, each contact made, the details of the communications, the solution, and the outcome. Bonus: The more you track transformations and understand the most common complaints, you can find ways to improve what you do as a company that will translate into less complaints and more satisfied customers.

While Facebook provides the most extensive metrics through their Insights feature, don’t ignore the analytics provided by Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You can enhance analytics to social networks by integrating Google Analytics with your accounts or by using third party services like a social media dashboard or URL shortened. Don’t get too lost in the numbers that you lose sight of the main reasons you’re using social media in the first place: Branding, Customer Service, Customer Relationships and Sales.