22 Metrics That Matter For Social Media Marketers

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Social Media Marketing has gone mainstream and has now become a core component of all marketing initiatives. Marketers spend more time, money, and effort engaging with their audience on social channels.

84% of B2B marketers use social media in some form. (Aberdeen)

But while social media usage has seen an increase, marketers are still finding it difficult to measure ROI.

52% of marketers cite difficulties in accurately measuring ROI as their biggest source of frustration in social marketing. (Adobe)

Engaging with your audience on social requires dedicated effort and marketing spend. But just as important, is the ability to track relevant metrics that measure the success of your social media efforts. After all, social media is one of the 6 buckets that need to be considered within Marketing Forensics.

In an effort to simplify the process, we’ve compiled key metrics that can help Social Media Marketers optimize their strategy.

Activity Metrics

The best place to start is by measuring what you’re doing, as in what is the basic output of your social media efforts. This includes scheduling and optimizing content, posting social messages, and answering questions for your customers or solving their problems.

1) Post Rate

Before you can measure how effective your social media efforts are, you need to measure how often you post on social.

Post rate is the number of total posts (to each social media channel) per reporting period. This can include total Facebooks posts, tweets, Pinterest pins, etc.

Note: Divide it by the total number of days you have been posting to a specific channel to get the average daily rate.

This helps you determine what frequency you publish posts at and you can also measure whether increasing the quantity of your posts results in an increase in engagement or conversions.

2) Post Type Percentage

Next, you should measure the types of posts and how they factor into your social media efforts.

Post type percentage gives you a breakdown of the different types of posts being published. Most commonly post types are broken into photos, videos, links, text, polls, and more.

You can calculate it by adding up the number of posts for each category, and then dividing it by the total number of posts.

The goal here is to measure what type of post works best on each channel. In multi-dimensional channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (where various types of content work well), it’s important to figure out which type of post yields the best results.

For example, here’s a look at our current Twitter performance:


Screenshot of Buffer dashboard

In the past 30 days, 63.5% of our posts contained a link, which accounted for 63.3% of our total engagement. However, looking at the “Average Retweets Per Post” section you can see that image posts seem to be outperforming link posts.

While this isn’t a definitive measure that image posts are better for us (Note: we have to take into account overall engagement, not just retweets), it’s worthwhile to test our hypothesis.

3) Post Topic Percentage

If you’ve been executing social media campaigns for some time, you know that a combination of various content topics works best in engaging your audience.

Mixing up high-level thought leadership posts with special offers and product or industry news ensures that your brand is posting about topics that your audience likes to consume.

Post topic percentage can help you determine that mix. This metric requires some legwork before you can measure it i.e you need to figure out what content topics matter for your business. This can include resources such as blog posts or eBooks, special offers, industry news, how-tos, etc.

Once you’ve done this, tally up the number of posts for each topic. Divide each category’s tally by the total number of posts for each social media channel.

In fact, combining your post topic percentage with relevant engagement metrics can help you determine how efficient your social media efforts are. By finding the right mix of topics, you can ensure that your audience is consuming the content, and more importantly is engaging with you.

4) Response Rate

Next, you need to measure how well you respond to your audience. Your response rate measures the percentage of questions, comments or problems you respond to within a given period of time.

To measure response rate, calculate the number of responses you sent and divide it by the total number of questions or comments directed towards your brand in a reporting period.

Social media marketing is all about engagement and real-time conversations. Often times your target audience is looking for answers to a problem, so it’s important to measure how well you get back to them.

5) Social Media Marketing Budget

As with any marketing plan, it’s important to measure how much you’re spending. Your social media marketing budget tells you the total dollar value of your efforts.

Identify the total dollar value spent per social channel for each reporting period, and add up the totals to calculate your budget.

Combining your total spend with various engagement metrics can help quantify your social media marketing efforts. After all social media spending is going to increase over the next few years:

Reach Metrics

Reach metrics help you identify who’s listening to your message and how well you’re tapping into your audience. These metrics determine the size of your audience including your potential audience size and growth rate, and what your audience thinks of your brand.

6) Audience Growth Rate

Social media marketing is all about growing your audience and building relationships with them (but more on that later), so it’s important to measure the rate at which your audience grows.

Your audience growth rate can be measured by dividing new audience members by total audience members.

This can help you identify how well your audience is growing and if there are any noticeable patterns between your posts and the rate at which your audience expands. You can also find out if one social channel is outperforming another or if your audience growth is being influenced by specific campaigns.

Here’s a great post on social media engagement tactics that will grow your audience.

7) Total Reach

All brands want to make sure their posts are seen by as large of an audience as possible. Measuring your total reach can help determine the size of this audience.

Total reach is measured by adding your total network and the total network of anyone who shared your posts (friends of fans for example) during a reporting period.

Use the total reach to determine your brand’s potential on various social channels. This can help prioritize your social media efforts across multiple channels.

Check out this post by Buffer on how to increase your reach on any social network:

8) Brand Awareness

Now that you’ve determined the size of your audience, it’s time to understand what they’re saying about your brand. Brand awareness helps you track the total number of mentions of your brand in a given period of time.

To calculate it, use a comprehensive monitoring tool and track all mentions of your brand. Add up the total number of mentions excluding your own comments or any spam mentions per reporting period.

Brand awareness can help you calculate the social buzz your brand is getting. The more mentions you get, the bigger the buzz surrounding your brand.

9) Sentiment

Once you’ve identified how many times your brand is mentioned, it’s time to figure out what all those mentions are about. You need to identify if all that social buzz is happening for the right reasons or if you need to make changes to your strategy.

To calculate sentiment, you need to first assign a positive, negative or neutral sentiment to each brand mention (Hint: There are tools that can automatically do that).

Divide the total for each type of sentiment by the total number of brand mentions.

Social buzz can happen for the wrong reasons, so it’s important to determine whether the brand mentions are positive or negative. Positive sentiment can convince your audience to make purchases, whereas negative sentiment can help identify any recurring problems your customers are facing.

10) Share of Voice

Your competitors are most likely taking measures to be active on various social channels, so it’s important to measure how your brand compares to them.

Share of voice helps you determine the amount of conversations taking place around your brand as opposed to your competitors.

To calculate this metric, you need to first calculate your brand’s total mentions and then do the same for your major competitors. Divide your brand’s mentions by the total industry mentions to get your share of voice.

Note: It’s more convenient to measure brand of voice across all your social channels, but you can segment it based on each channel to get more insights on your social media performance.

Here’s a simple example of what it could look like:

11) Share of Conversation

Another key aspect related to brand mentions is the Share of Conversation or how often your brand is associated to a specific word or phrase.

To measure share of conversation, start by creating a list of phrases or keywords that are relevant to your brand. Monitor conversations on social that include these keywords (a social monitoring tool can help) and identify any mentions of your brand.

Divide the brand mentions for the key terms by the total number of mentions of the term to get your share of conversation.

By measuring share of conversation, you can ensure that your brand is taking part in the right discussions and for the right reasons. Always make sure that your brand is associated with relevant keywords and phrases.

Engagement Metrics

Engagement Metrics focus on how your audience is interacting with your content. How likely are they to talk to you? Are they sharing your content? These are crucial metrics that determine the success (or lack thereof) of your social media strategy.

12) Amplification Rate

The amplification rate is the rate at which your audience shares your content through their own networks.

It’s calculated by dividing the total number of amplification actions by the total number of posts in a given period of time.

Note: Amplification actions vary based on social channels. For example, for Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn you would measure total number of shares. But for Twitter you would measure retweets and repins for Pinterest.

Amplification of your content increases trust, adds reliability to your brand, and builds a relationship with your audience. It’s a great measure of how well you engage your audience and how much value your content delivers. Remember:

13) Applause Rate

Applause rate is similar to amplification rate in that it measures favorable audience actions, but rather than focusing on shares, you measure approval or “virtual applause” actions. Some examples of applause actions include likes, favorites, +1s, etc.

To calculate the applause rate, divide the total number of applause actions by the total number of posts.

Approval actions indicate that your content is resonating with your audience, and it can help you determine the type of content that generates a strong response from your audience.

14) Conversation Rate

Perhaps the best indicator of engagement is the conversation rate. It highlights the rate at which your audience interacts with your brand’s posts.

To calculate conversation rate, just divide the total number of comments per social channel by the total number of posts. Note: For Twitter, your comments includes the total number of replies and mentions.

Engagement helps you identify what works and doesn’t work in your social media strategy, and conversations are great indicators of it.

Here’s a great dashboard by Avinash Kaushik that combines the above three metrics:

15) Engagement Rate

Engagement rate is perhaps the more comprehensive engagement metric because it measures the percentage of your total audience that has engaged with your content in any way, across all social channels.

To measure engagement rate, you need to first add up the total number of engagement actions across each social channel. Then divide it by the total audience on that channel.

For example, you would measure your engagement rate on Twitter by adding up retweets, mentions and replies, and dividing it by your total followers.

Growing your audience is only half the battle. Engagement drives action, so you need to ensure that it grows along with your audience.

Acquisition Metrics

Acquisition metrics let you measure the actions that your audience is taking after engaging with you on social i.e. are they visiting your website to learn about your products or services. These metrics focus on your social media efforts and how well they translate into goals you have set for your brand’s website.

16) Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate measures the rate at which your audience clicks on a link within a post on a social channel.

To calculate the click-through rate per post, simply divide the number of clicks on the link by the total number of people who saw it.

Measuring click-through rate on your social posts is a great way to identify what content resonates with your audience. It can help narrow down the content topics you should share, which helps you deliver more value to your target audience.

You can also measure other factors, like Dan Zarrella who found the optimal tweet length that had the highest click-through rates:

17) Social Referral Visits

Now that you know what content is driving the most traffic, it’s time to figure out where traffic is coming from. Social referral visits measures the amount of traffic to your site from any particular social channel.

To measure social referral visits, go to your web analytics tool (like Google Analytics), click on Traffic Sources > Social > Network Referrals. Here you can see a breakup of referral traffic for each specific channel.

Analyzing social referral visits lets you identify which social channels are driving visitors to your website. You can also take it a step further by tracking which content in those specific channels are driving the most traffic.

18) Visitor Frequency Rate

If you know the amount of traffic you’re getting from social media channels, it’s also helpful to know the breakup of that traffic. Are they mostly new visitors or are there any returning visitors?

Visitor frequency rate gives you the percentage of social media-referred visitors that are returning to your site, and those that are new to it. You can also access this metric in your web analytics tool.

For example, if you’re using Google Analytics, simply go to Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals and look at the “% of new visits” per source.

Figure out how well your brand attracts new visitors and how well you’re engaging with repeat visitors. If one is outperforming the other, prioritize your social media strategy accordingly.

19) Visit Duration

Visit duration measures how long your audience is spending on your website. It serves as a great indicator of how engaged your audience is with the content you’re sharing on a particular social channel.

To measure visit duration, open up Google Analytics and go to Traffic Sources > Social > Network Referrals and look at the “average visit duration” metric.

Conversion Metrics

Conversion metrics focuses on the ultimate goal you hope a visitor will achieve via social media. These metrics focus on how well your marketing efforts are converting visitors like purchasing a product, or signing up for a free trial.

Note: Unlike other metrics we’ve discussed so far, conversion metrics require the setup of conversion goals before they’re measured. Here’s how you can go about creating goals in Google Analytics.

20) Assisted Social Conversions

Your visitors may not always convert on their very first interaction with your website. Often times they may leave, only to return at a later time and then convert. This is measured as an assisted social conversion.

After you’ve set up a conversion tracking goal for this metric, you can see it in Google Analytics by clicking on Traffic Sources > Social > Conversions. Next, click on “Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis” and find the metric labeled “Assisted Conversions.”

Assisted social conversions is a useful metric to measure the role your social media efforts play in converting a visitor into a customer.

21) Last Interaction Social Conversions

When visitors go to your website and convert, the visit is known as a “last click.” Last interaction social conversions measures the total number of conversions (from last clicks) that originated from a social media channel.

After you’ve defined a conversion goal for this metric, you can see it in Google Analytics by visiting Traffic Sources > Social > Conversions. Next, click on “Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis” and find the metric “Last Click” or “Direct Conversions”.

Assisted social conversions tells you how well your social media efforts introduce the right people to your website. Whereas, last interaction social conversions tells you how well your social efforts are converting these visitors.

Use both to measure the efficiency of your social media strategy. Here’s how Social Market Buzz measures their efforts:

22) Social Leads Rate

One key metric that many mature companies have begun to measure is new leads from social. It helps truly measure how your efforts on social are helping in generating real leads for your business.

The leads from social channels are tracked using specific social media / social lead tracking tools. It’s calculated by dividing the total leads from social channels by the total leads across all channels. You can also extend it to measure revenue from social.

Besides the above, there are other metrics (e.g., Impact of social campaigns on lead velocity, revenue attribution using multi-touch, etc.) that are tracked by forward thinking companies. These are more complex and require a Marketing Forensics approach.

Wrapping It Up

Not all social media metrics matter for your business. It varies based on your brand’s specific goals.

Start by identifying goals that are relevant for your business. As you build out your social media strategy, note down the metrics that best track your efforts. Start with the basic activity metrics and work your way down the list using Google Analytics or another analytics tool.

Tracking these metrics and optimizing your social media efforts based on results can help you drive conversions and achieve social media marketing success.

What are some metrics you track as a part of your social media strategy? Share them in the comments below. And stay tuned for the next post in our ‘Metrics That Matter’ series.