We LOVE metrics here at Digital Mums HQ. And while the language can seem intimidating - engagement rates, social media referrals and organic impressions to mention a few - they are actually one of the best things about social media. No, really.
Because rather than just posting content you think will engage your audience and hoping for the best, you can actually see what’s working. In real time.
In the world of digital marketing where EVERYTHING can be measured (and then measured some more) these metrics are a crucial part of social media strategy. If you’re not looking at the data behind what you’re doing, you’re missing out on vital insights that can help you achieve your objectives. So let’s get started…
Finding - and using - your data
Most social networks have fantastic (and free!) analytics tools you can use to access the data. But with so much out there, where do you even begin?
You need to start with setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are essentially things you can measure to see if you’re being successful and need to set depending on what you want to achieve. For example, if you want more website traffic then one KPI will be an increase in referrals from social networks through to your website.
One word of warning… don’t try and measure everything. If you do, you’ll be lost down the rabbit hole of figures, stats and percentage uplifts before you know it. With this in mind, here’s our quick-hit guide on making the most of your metrics...
- Understand what social media metrics actually are - and what data they can give you
Engagement, replies, comments, retweets, click throughs… social media metrics are a whole host of data points that you can use to establish both progress and success. These metrics will then feed into your overall targets - your KPIs.
So how do you make sure you don’t set unrealistic KPIs? It’s one thing deciding you want a 50% increase in Twitter follower numbers but is that really achievable? The way to set realistic goals is to benchmark on the basis of current data. Look at past months and see how many followers you usually pick up weekly and then use that to calculate your KPI.
- Establish what you’re going to measure
This is a case of selecting the metrics that fit your objective;
New followers and fans
While not an actual objective, this is what is viewed by many as a barometer of success. Overall an increase in followers is a good thing, partly because once people follow or like you you then you have a chance to convert them to support you in your specific objective. But it’s important, beyond these follower numbers, to think about wider strategic objectives such as driving people to your website. After all, it’s better to get 100 new Pinterest followers that click through to your site than 1,000 that don’t.
Building brand awareness
The most important metric to look at here is the total ‘reach’ or ‘impressions’ of your activity - how many people you are getting your business in front of. You can measure this using the analytics tools on the various platforms. Also key is how effective this reach is at engaging people - are they liking or sharing your posts? Again you can measure this using analytics which will show you exactly how many people are liking, retweeting and commenting. An increase in followers or fans is also a metric to focus on.
Building an engaged community
Your overall engagement rate is important here. It’s also key to break this down into the types of interactions you are having - likes/favourites versus replies/comments. The latter are a sign that someone is more deeply engaged. Again an increase in followers and fans is always useful but it’s not really an indicator of a relationship - they might follow you but never interact with you. If you don’t see an increase in engagement in the first three weeks of strategic activity it may be because the current community are not your target audience. And thanks to the magic of metrics (we told you we loved them!) if you see this happening you can then set a new KPI of increasing new followers and fans
The metric to measure here is an increase in social media traffic to your website. Just remember, you can drive traffic to the email sign-up form but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will hand over their email address. However, the more you build a relationship with them on social media, the more likely they are to share their details.
Driving website traffic
Whether you’re aiming to get more online sales or generate more ad revenue, driving website traffic is a key objective for many businesses. The most important metric for this objective is social media referral traffic. Google Analytics allows you to see exactly how much traffic comes from social media, and tells you which platforms drive the most traffic. Another metric is increasing overall retweets, shares and repins of any content that contains the URL. This has the added bonus of improving the SEO of the site moving it higher up the Google search rankings.
- Be organised
With so much data we advise all our Digital Mum trainees to keep a weekly spreadsheet. This way you can stay on top of all the figures and also see what’s working comparatively. As you can probably tell, we could write a whole blog series just about how to measure all the different types of metrics. (And we probably will - stay tuned!) But in the meantime, our top tip is to access the help sections from the different channels which we’ve added for you here: Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest
The difficulty in measuring ROI
While there is loads of data available, one thing that few businesses are able to give is tangible data to show social media has delivered a Return on Investment (ROI). The latest Social Media Examiner report says that while 88% of marketers wanted to know how to measure their return on investment, only 42% of marketers said they were able to measure their social activities.
However, there is more to social media than driving actual sales. There is a potential cost to NOT being active on social media. Your potential customers may expect answers to their questions and if they don’t get them may go elsewhere. Customers may try to engage with you after they have bought something, so you fail to build customer loyalty. All are very difficult to measure. More and more businesses are moving away from trying to look at revenue-per-customer via social media activity and are taking a more holistic view.
In the same study, of those who have been using social media for at least one year, 64% found it useful for building a loyal fan base. Other studies have found social media now drives 31% of all referral traffic.
Top tips from Digital Mum's senior course tutor Elvira Tynan
- Keep your social media campaign objective front of mind when settings KPIs and always ensure you are tracking the right ones for your objective.
Run platforms for at least four weeks before setting KPIs - this helps set realistic ones (which are right for your industry and audience)
Ensure you understand the difference between engagement interactions and engagement rate and are clear on how and when to use them. This is something that crops up time and time again with our students. Engagement interactions is the number of individual interactions such as comments, likes, RTs etc. Whereas engagement rate takes into account both the total number of interactions AND the total number of people that you reach. It's the ratio of people that interacted with you as a % of the total that you reached.
And don't forget to join us on Thursday 11am-12pm for our #SocialDoneRight tweet chat where we'll be discussing all things metrics.