What should you measure on social media?

The question of what to measure on social media is a complex one. Although many people assume there must be a one-size-fits-all answer, a single definitive solution that will offer the maximum possible benefits to every company using social media doesn’t actually exist.

Keep in mind that there are a variety of insights that can be gleaned from using social media management and analysis tools, but the numbers won’t mean anything unless you know what your social goals are in the first place.

Understanding your options

As outlined by Buffer, here’s a list of some of the main metrics you might want to measure:

  • Clickthroughs: How many social media users are interested enough in your content that they literally “click through” to find out more.
  • Conversions: The number of people who perform the task or behavior that your social campaign is encouraging, such as complete a survey, download your mobile app or use an exclusive, social-media-only discount code when they make a purchase on your website.
  • Engagement: As with clickthroughs, the name of this metric is very literal, as it refers to how many individuals engage with a post. “Engagement” is a broad term that encompasses likes, shares, comments, etc. Clickthroughs also fall under the umbrella of engagement, although the number is so important that it’s often considered to be a separate metric in its own right, which is why we listed it by itself.
  • Funnels: The paths toward conversion, divided up into certain benchmarks. What percentage of consumers make it to each benchmark, and how many make it to the end? This metric can be helpful for zeroing in on a stumbling block that results in many prospects dropping off your radar.
  • Impressions: How many people see the post, i.e. the number of Twitter timelines, Facebook news feeds, Tumblr dashboards, etc. on which it ends up appearing, regardless of whether users interact with it at all.
  • Reach: The size of the audience to which you are communicating. This metric is related to impressions.

Pinpoint your social media priority

Once you know the different metrics to look for, it’s time to figure out what to prioritize.

  • Are you interested in beaming out your message to as many people as possible? (In direct mail, this would be the blanket mailing approach.) Zero in on total impressions.
  • Would you rather target a smaller number of people who are likely to engage with your posts, clicking links or pressing the “Like” button? Focus on your clickthrough rates.
  • Is your main hope that your followers disseminate your posts to their own followers (for instance, by sharing them on Facebook, retweeting them on Twitter, regramming them on Instagram, reblogging them on Tumblr, etc.)? Pay attention to post engagement.

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Making it happen

When you’ve decided on your priority metric, the next step is to conduct an analysis to look at how your posts are currently performing. Once you know where you stand, you can put together goals for the future.

If your objective is social sharing – or what contributor Kevan Lee termed “amplification” in a post on social media management tool Buffer’s blog – look at the number of shares, retweets, regrams, reblogs and the like garnered by each of your posts, analyze what made the top performers so successful and emulate these aspects in future content.

“Clicks tell us that the headline is interesting and helpful on an individual level – someone reads the headlines and wants to know more about the story,” Lee wrote, referring to clickthrough rates before going on to address amplification. “Retweets tell us that the headline is interesting enough to share with all of someone’s followers. This is a substantial compliment and one that speaks to the virality of the headline.”

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