There is a lot more to social media success than your number of followers and likes. Some of the most important numbers to keep track of aren’t readily visible in some of the mainstream social media apps. It might be surprising that there are dozens of social media metrics that influencers and marketers alike pay attention to determine if their work is a success.
If you’re looking to advertise or improve your social media marketing know-how, then you can’t afford to be left behind on this kind of info. Below are some of the best social media KPIs to familiarize yourself with if you want to have a greater understanding of social media performance.
But First, What Is a KPI?
KPI is an anagram short for “key performance indicators.” Anything, theoretically, can be considered a social media KPI as long as it is something your social media campaign is interested in tracking. There are a few standard metrics that just about all digital marketing experts agree are good measurements of good social media performance.
Because the main social media platforms differ in what they can do, they have different KPIs that are tracked within them. For example, some marketing strategies will be interested in tracking retweets, and that is a KPI that only exists on Twitter. Though, many of these unique KPIs have similar counterparts on other social media platforms. Among other things, this can help a larger marketing team compare the success of its social media strategy across platforms.
Whether you are a solo social media influencer looking to improve your presence or a massive marketing team for one of the biggest brands on the planet, KPIs are the barometer you will watch as you go through your social media efforts.
When you change up the tone of the content, try new promotions, or even make your social media posts at different times of the day, you’ll have objective measures that show you whether that change was good, bad, or a little of both. Over time, comparing the shifts in your chosen KPIs across the various social networks will help you tune in the best possible way to market yourself or your products and improve brand awareness.
Why Go To All This Trouble?
The bottom line for all marketing is to get a return on investment. The time or money you spend on your advertising or promotions needs to result in even more money coming back to you, otherwise, there would be no point in all these marketing efforts.
To put it as simply as possible, caring about the various KPIs has proven to be worth it. When social media marketing strategies are optimized, it makes some brands a ton of money. For influencers promoting themselves, going the extra mile to care about the data analytics and adjust their strategies accordingly almost always pays off.
It’s hard to appropriately explain how big a difference KPI optimized social media content makes over even partially optimized content without diving into a huge discussion about all the research and intricacies. The best way to see it is to give it a shot yourself and watch the results. With all that established, here are the KPIs to be focusing on for your next content marketing campaign, broken down by category.
KPIs for Reach
You probably don’t need us to tell you the sheer number of people you have consuming your content is important. Having tons of people interested in your promotions will naturally result in a higher amount of people that support you or your business. Not all reach KPIs do quite the same thing though, and the subtle differences between them are key to developing your brand even further.
1. Audience Size
For the most part, this can be understood as your follower count, total subscribers, or the number of people that consume your content. What shape this number takes will be dependant on the social media channel you are focusing on. Whatever form it comes in, social media reach is a reasonable place to start to see if your social media accounts are successful.
The best part about having a healthy amount of reach is that they often work as organic marketing for you -- giving your content free referrals to their friends and potentially resulting in new followers without you having to do anything.
The name can be a bit confusing -- it doesn’t have much to do with your content necessarily making an impression on someone. The most simple way to think of it is instances where a single piece of content is being viewed multiple times. This can happen directly, such as someone pulling up a post they saw earlier to look at it again, show a friend, and so on.
A bit more commonly occurring is when a post shows up on someone’s newsfeed more than once, usually the result of social shares, someone leaving a comment, or being tagged in a post you saw previously. Tracking the number of impressions can be tricky, but much like reach, the more the better. We’ve previously discussed Reach vs. Impressions in-depth, and highly recommend it to help further your knowledge on these and other KPIs.
3. Website Traffic
This KPI will sound similar to Reach, and they are thematically related, but traffic is more concerned with things like blogs, online merch stores, and so on. It’s just the online equivalent of having someone come into your store to look around. The more people that come through, the more likely you are to generate new customers just by raw numbers.
Often, websites and social media campaigns go hand-in-hand. You want your website traffic to be high, and your social media management to encourage traffic. However, if you find that you are getting a lot of growth on your social media accounts and little growth in website traffic, this can be a sign that you should reconsider your calls to action or promotion strategies.
4. Share of Voice
When you are a brand or influencer, getting people to talk about you is one of the best things to be doing. People don’t talk about things they don’t care about. Share of voice is a rough measurement of how much people are talking about your brand without provocation in comparison to your competitors.
The level of chatter a brand creates fluctuates depending on any number of things. You want it to be as high as possible, but that isn’t always realistic, so at the least, you want to keep it from going down too far. If you ever see your share of voice dipping, it might be a good idea to do something that gets people talking.
KPIs for Engagement
Having a bunch of people that consume your content is great, but it doesn’t amount to much itself. Go back again to the store metaphor -- having lots of people in your store doesn’t do any good unless at least some of them buy something. Social media engagement is all about getting people to interact with your content in some way, be it liking, commenting, sharing, clicking links, and so on.
It might not seem like much, but showing that people care enough about what you have to say to take time from their day to interact with your social media, it’s a decent indication they would be willing to act upon your words. Here are some of the main KPIs people focus on to determine their engagement rate.
As unassuming as it sounds, the number of clicks corresponds greatly with success on social media. This doesn’t just apply to click traffic on a website. Link clicks serve as an important midway measurement. If you see that your link clicks are high, but that you have an almost as high bounce rate, then you should consider making the landing page for your link more appealing. Getting people in and convincing them to stay is the hard part; if you can make it past that, you’re in business.
Likes are in the same boat as clicks, they are a small action that adds up to a lot on social media. The conversion rate of people liking posts becoming supporters is slightly worse than people that click on links, but it isn’t insignificant. The real power behind your number of likes is the appeal to people and social media algorithms.
People like thinking they are a part of something, so seeing a post with a ton of likes will compel someone to join in and give the content a Like as well, snowballing the engagement. The real boost comes from the fact that content with more likes is favored way more by the algorithms that organize people’s newsfeeds, so if your post can snowball a bunch of likes, you can reasonably suspect it will appear more often to your target audience than your competitors.
Shares are like super-likes in terms of engagement metrics. They do just about everything that likes do for your content with the bonus of being a direct increase in your visibility rather than a slight boost to the algorithms. Liking content is easy, but sharing something on social media is the digital equivalent of a direct referral, which shows brand loyalty. If you see a huge increase in likes but your sales revenue or audience support isn’t improving, consider paying more attention to share counts.
The number of comments your social media posts receive is like the next step up from the share of voice. They go from generally discussing you with others to actively engaging in a discussion with you and others on the content itself, and just like your share of voice, the more comments you get, the better. There is the issue of griefers and people being critical about your comments that can arise, but they aren’t inherently an issue.
For one, social media users don’t leave comments if they aren’t invested in the content at least somehow. Also, if enough people bring up legitimate criticism, it’s an opportunity to learn and improve your marketing strategy. Though sometimes the comments get a bit out of hand, and you need to know how to shut them up.
Social media analytics have discovered a weird fact about mentions. The overwhelming majority of brand mentions on social media are made by people that don’t follow those brands-- kind of like talking about someone behind their back. As such, you should probably expect mentions to be critical more often than not.
Like comments, these can be a great chance to see what people say about your brand to find ways to improve. Often, it can be difficult to see the flaws of something if you are too close to it. At worst, having a lot of mentions shows that there are a lot of people with your brand floating around in their subconscious, even if they aren’t directly supporting you at the time.
KPIs for Conversion
To keep up the metaphor, you’ve finally gotten people in the store and they say they want to buy something, so now you need to figure out if more people are. Conversion rate metrics are where you find out if your efforts are paying off and you are meeting your business goals.
The basis for all marketing campaigns is to make a business more money. You might be tempted to associate an increase in sales revenue as a sign your campaign was a success, but it isn’t quite so simple. The increase could just be a coincidence or related to a factor not caused by your marketing efforts.
Proving a campaign was successful and caused an increase in profits has always been a headache for marketers. Social media campaigns are much easier to draw these associations since you can track things like traffic, click-through rates, and so on.
11. Lead Conversion Rate.
Lead conversion rate is a simple way to determine how many people end up financially supporting your brand in comparison to all of the leads your marketing efforts generate. Tracking this KPI can be a bit weird due to the subtle differences in the requirements and interpretations by the system.
For example, a returning lead that only buys from your brand once can be considered one total conversion of one lead, or each previous time that person did not yet buy from your brand could be considered individual lead instances that failed until the success. The same scenario could result in a 25% conversion rate or a 100% conversion rate, so pay attention to the nuances of your measurements.
12. Non-Revenue Conversions
Occasionally, your campaign will be interested in tracking conversions that aren’t based on sales. Some common replacements are convincing people to sign up for newsletters, filling out a survey, or downloading some material. These still show that people are invested in and participating in your brand, but they are doing it in ways that do not directly put money in your pocket. You can use this to extrapolate how your marketing is inspiring action in your followers.
KPIs for Loyalty
One of the most important things for a brand to do to set itself apart is to convince customers to keep coming back. Every brand has its way of achieving that goal, and there are plenty of ways to track loyalty to your brand. With consumer marketing being the hot topic for social media marketing, learning what convinces your followers to stay loyal can be invaluable.
13. Cost Per Lead
This echoes back to conversion rates. The relative cost per lead is a good benchmark to determine if a campaign is worth it, but it can also show a brand’s effectiveness at retaining people. If the cost per lead is much lower in comparison to the overall revenue, it is a likely indicator that each lead has continued to support the brand. The alternative explanation is that they spent an incredible amount of money at once, which is a reasonable substitute.
14. Issues Resolved
People love feeling like they are being listened to, and social media marketing is the perfect way to achieve this effect. People are much warmer to brands that respond to their posts on social media, particularly Twitter since the platform allows for easy direct addressing. The crazy thing is that people feel better after having a social media exchange with a brand, even if the exchange wasn’t all that helpful.
15. Customer Lifetime Value
Some businesses rely on the consistent support of a few people rather than the sporadic support of a ton of people. Having loyal customers that return to your brand over and over results in their CLV going up, and there isn’t any business that doesn’t benefit from that. CLV is one of the harder things to tune since it is so nebulous and relies on more variables than most any other individual KPI. The good news is, achieving a good CLV often comes from having high rates of other important KPIs, so you can sometimes accomplish one by working towards the other.