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Understanding Social Media Metrics: Your Blueprint

Understanding Social Media Metrics: Your Blueprint

Let us start by defining what “social media metrics” means. In simpler terms, these are the numbers that track and evaluate the extent to which social media marketing campaigns are effective.

Think of them as a report card showing how well your social strategy delivers. As in any other game, you can only tell if you win or lose when you know the score, right?

Social metrics comprise engagement rates, audience growth, web traffic from social media, etc. They enable one to sift through the noise and quantify whether they have had sleepless nights on social, which has paid them off.

But without figures like those amigo, everything would be done in vain. It would be similar to a football team going into every match, not knowing who has possession or if we are being dominated.

Table of Contents

Why Do Social Metrics Matter?

Ai On Social Media Presentations

“But I'm just a small business/individual using social for fun”, I hear you saying. “Do I need to get caught up with metrics, numbers, and all that jazz?”

The simple answer? Absolutely.

Everyone taking social media even slightly seriously needs to be metricking (I'm making that a word!). And there are a few key reasons why:

1) They Allow You to Optimise Your Approach

What gets measured gets improved, right?

By closely monitoring your social media metrics, you can quickly identify what content connects with your audience and what's falling flat. You'll know to double down on the good stuff and ditch tactics that aren't cutting it.

It's a constant cycle of tweaking and refining based on cold, complex data. It's much better than guessing and posting blind like so many do!

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2) You Can Justify Your Time/Budget

Whether you're a solo blogger investing personal time into social or a brand with a full-blown budget, metrics allow you to show the world that your efforts aren't in vain.

For individuals, good metrics mean you can point to actual, tangible results from all those hours spent crafting the perfect posts. For businesses, they serve as justification for allocating more resources (human and financial) to social.

The bottom line: social metrics transform your activities from just “messing around online” into a legitimate, measurable pursuit.

3) You Can Align with Goals

It's one thing to gain many followers or rack up the likes. But who cares if those vanity metrics don't drive meaningful results for your goals?

By defining the right metrics from the outset that are explicitly tied to your objectives (building an audience, driving web traffic, or boosting sales), you'll ensure all your social efforts are laser-focused and productive.

What Are Some Common Social Media Metrics?

Common Social Media Metrics

The world of social data is vast, with more potential metrics than you can wrap your head around. But some crop up again and again as being among the most useful to monitor:

Engagement Rate

This reflects how much your audience is interacting with each of your posts, taking into account social media metrics like:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Saves
  • Click-throughs

It's typically expressed as a percentage, showing what portion of your followers/audience engaged with a post. A high engagement rate indicates strong content that truly resonates.

Aiming to increase this metric steadily is a wise focus for many brands and creators. After all, engaged audiences are far more valuable than hoards of passive followers.

Reach & Impressions

While “reach” tracks how many unique people saw your posts, “impressions” measures the total number of times your posts were displayed (to both unique users and the same users multiple times).

Consistent reach growth signals that you're expanding your potential audience over time. Optimising for greater impressions per post means getting more mileage from each piece of content.

These metrics tie into exposure – a critical first step before any other goodness, like engagement or conversions, can occur.

Web Traffic (From Social)

For many businesses or bloggers using social media, the ultimate aim is to drive traffic and eyeballs to their main website or online platform.

Closely monitoring your social referral traffic (i.e. how many website visitors you're getting from each social channel) should be a top priority. It allows you to evaluate the tangible impact of your social efforts on your core business objectives.

Follower Growth Rate

While your total follower count is often called a “vanity metric” that shouldn't be prioritised, the rate at which you're growing that audience can be pretty meaningful.

After all, a steadily expanding social footprint means exposing your brand or content to more potential engagers and customers. Tracking the percentage of follower growth across each channel is a good practice.

Social Conversions & Revenue

For many companies invested in social media marketing, tangibly linking social activities to business results like leads and sales is crucial.

With comprehensive tracking and analytics tools, you can monitor metrics like:

  • Conversion rates from social traffic
  • New leads sourced from social
  • Direct revenue generated by social promotions & ads
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This bottom-line impact data is gold for justifying and optimising social spending.

Share of Voice

In noisy, competitive niches and industries, measuring your “share of voice” across social media can be illuminating.

This metric compares the percentage of total conversation, buzz, and social mentions around your relevant keywords or product topics that you “own” compared to others.

Boosting your share signals, you're gaining mindshare among your target audience at the expense of competitors.

How to Use & Analyse Your Social Data

Social Media Dashboard

However, it takes more than just accessing all these metrics – you must employ them properly. Here are some tips and best practices:

Create a precise measurement plan

Before you embark on your social strategy, outline the exact metrics you will be following, the tools for doing so and the benchmarks or targets you aim for.

This can prevent you from submerging in irrelevant data or running after figures that do not fit your goals.

Develop reports and dashboards.

Many of today’s social media analytics offer an automated report and dashboard creation with the most essential metrics highlighted.

You have to customise them using specific critical data points while leveraging best practices in data visualisations to make insights more palatable and shareable.

Whether internal reporting to executives or sharing progress with your audience, killer visual reports and dashboards will be your best friends.

Set up standards

What is “good” or “bad” performance for each metric? These numbers would be essentially meaningless unless clear benchmarks are established against them.

Then, historical information can be used to establish baselines and study industry specifics and content verticals to help set realistic targets such as engagement rates.

Finally, keep tracking your performance against those baselines to quantify success or spot areas needing improvement.

Track changes over time

While monthly snapshots of data might hint at what is going on here and there, the real magic occurs when extended periods of trend lines are examined.

For instance, did web traffic from Instagram go up during a particular campaign? Has the share of voice on X been growing consistently over the last year? Are engagement rates for YouTube videos slowly edging down?

By looking at trends through this broader lens, insights not otherwise available by observing sporadic data points may become apparent from this wider perspective.

Always be constantly testing.

More than those insights from analysing data alone are required; thus, continuous iteration and testing must be done accordingly!

For example, your Facebook videos have higher engagement rates than other posts. In that case, it is possible to speculate that increasing video output might improve performance further.

Then, introduce this modified video strategy and closely monitor whether the metrics fit your suppositions. Rinse and repeat this data-driven testing process ad infinitum.

Metrics Example: Growing an Instagram Following

Measure Instagram Story Analytics

Let's look at an example of how social media metrics could be leveraged effectively for a specific goal: growing an engaged Instagram follower.

For this objective, key metrics may include:

  • Total follower count
  • Follower growth rate (new followers per week/month)
  • Engagement rate on posts
  • Reach and impressions
  • Profile visits & website clicks
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You'd begin by establishing benchmarks for a reasonable follower growth pace, solid baseline engagement rates within your niche, etc.

Then, you'd build automated reports surfacing those metrics organised by week/month to monitor trendlines over time.

Perhaps your reach and impressions are growing nicely, but engagement is flat – signalling your expanded audience isn't interested in your content.

That insight would spur tests around optimising content formats, post times, hashtag strategies and more to drive better engagement from all those new eyes.

Engagement is strong, but your follower growth has stalled. In that case, you'd shift efforts towards maximising content discoverability through tactics like collaborating with influencers or ramping up your hashtag game.

No matter which specific metrics need addressing, you'd rely on that constant cycle of analysis and iteration to steer your Instagram strategy in the right direction over time.

As you dialled in your approach and the metrics improved, you could layer in additional goals beyond just the audience piece. For example:

  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Promoting lead magnets or offers
  • Generating sales or conversions

The same core mentality of measurement > insights > optimisation would apply, but now with a fresh focus on tying your Instagram activities directly to those business objectives.

Overcoming Metric Mania: Maintaining Perspective

Track Social Media Metrics

Now that we've hammered home just how precious social metrics can be, it's also essential to address the flipside:

You are getting so hyper-focused on every little data point that you drive yourself up the wall and lose sight of the bigger picture.

I want you to embrace metrics wholeheartedly, but we need to set some reasonable expectations and ground rules:

Don't Fret Over Every Minor Fluctuation

Engagement rates, follower growth, and all that jazz – not one of those metrics – will be a steady, straight line pointing upwards. There will be constant zigs and zags as you go along.

Try not to read too much into every short-term dip or spike. Watch the long-term trends, and avoid stressing over average statistical variance.

Put Metrics Into Proper Context

While metrics provide crucial insights, they don't tell the whole story. That stellar engagement rate may have been driven by a trending moment or viral post that won't be sustainable in the long term.

Seemingly discouraging traffic numbers could represent highly targeted, valuable visitors that convert like crazy.

Always seek to view the “what” of the raw data through the critical lens of the “why”. Overlay those numbers with qualitative insights and a deeper understanding of what's happening.

Maintain a Creative, Experimental Mindset

There's always a risk that an excessive metrics focus can slowly turn your social presence into an overly clinical, robotic endeavour where you only double down on the tactics and formats that appear to be “working” based on the data.

That's dangerous territory, as it can quickly stifle the creative spark that makes social content engaging and human in the first place.

While you should optimise based on the numbers, leave ample room for creative experimentation and trying new things without obsessing over micro-level performance details.

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Remember: Social Media Is (Surprise!) Social

Social media is still meant to be a community-building platform for human connection – not just another analytics dashboard.

Avoid becoming so blinded by the metrics that you forget to be social! Engaging directly with your audience, maintaining authentic relationships, and avoiding a purely numbers-driven mindset are all critical.

Strike that ideal balance between leveraging data intelligently and staying grounded in the human element.

Parting Advice: How to Win at Social Metrics

What Is Social Media Integration

My friends, you now thoroughly understand why social metrics deserve your attention, the key metrics, and how to analyse that data to extract meaningful insights.

As you navigate the trials and tribulations of building a robust social presence, here are a few final pieces of wisdom to stick in your back pocket along the way:

  • While quantifying your performance is crucial, social media success ultimately can't be reduced to a single number. Let the metrics guide you, but don't let them become your sole master.
  • Metrics are most potent when used as a lens for constant improvement. Don't just report on the data; take real-world actions based on what the numbers tell you.
  • Not all metrics are created equal. Focus obsessively on the ones most directly tied to your goals while deprioritising vanity metrics that don't move the needle.
  • Leverage the wealth of social analytics tools (many free), but don't lose sight of “common sense” wisdom and keen audience intuition.
  • Accept that you'll never perfectly optimise every single metric. Social media is an art and a science – with healthy doses of both needed.

Master metrics, and you'll transform social media from a crapshoot of random activities into a finely-tuned system for funnelling real, tangible value towards your core objectives.

Are you fusing cold data with human flair and creativity? Now, that's a winning formula for dominating the social universe.

FAQs on Social Media Metrics

What are the key indicators to monitor when gauging social media success?

Some of the most universally valuable metrics for tracking include engagement rate, follower growth rate, web traffic from social and conversion/revenue metrics.

How do you calculate the engagement rate in social media?

There is more than one method of doing so, but here is one: (Total engagements on a post) / (Number of followers or reach) x 100 = Engagement rate %

What are some good benchmarks for engagement rates on different platforms?

There are industry benchmarks, but generally, above 3-4% is considered high for Facebook, above 1.5-3% for Instagram and above 0.5-1% for X (Twitter).

How can I increase my engagement on social media?

Post at optimal times for your audience, ask questions, leverage trending topics and hashtags, test different content types, use engaging visuals, and consistently create high-quality content.

What’s a reasonable benchmark for follower growth rate?

About five to ten per cent of followers monthly will be satisfied with accounts that want to grow actively.

How do I track website traffic from social media?

Most web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, allow you to segment your traffic sources, showing how much volume comes specifically from each platform.

How can I better report and visualise my social data?

Visualisation-building solutions are usually included in most systems providing comprehensive reporting functionalities. Alternatively, importing data into BI tools or spreadsheets offers other visualisation methods.

I’m getting decent engagement but no website traffic/conversions from social. What could be wrong?

Double-check that your posts on social media include clear calls-to-action plus links back to your site. Also, new tactics should be tried to guide these involved audiences to the next step.

How often should I review my social metrics?

For most, a weekly or monthly cadence of in-depth analysis works well to identify meaningful trends without getting too bogged down in insignificant fluctuations.

What are the significant challenges with using social media metrics?

Vanity metrics are an example of common mistakes because somebody could pay attention to numbers that do not mean much. Everyone must always remember that numbers mislead by making things look simple.

Should I focus on the same metrics for paid and organic social activities?

Although this is true in many cases, some paid-specific measurements like CPM, CPC, conversion rates, and return on ad spend need to be considered when analysing paid campaigns.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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