Social media is a fantastic tool for content marketers. That said, it takes work to maintain a strong social presence, so you want to know that the efforts you’re making on each platform are, in fact, moving the needle. The right metrics can give you valuable insight to help you improve both your content marketing and content distribution strategies. Whether it’s figuring out the best time to post or what content is most popular, this info can help you correct course or double down on your most successful campaigns.
Of course, the insights you need will always depend on your marketing goals. There are plenty of social media metrics you can track (and it can get overwhelming), so it’s important to identify those most relevant to you.
How to Choose the Right Social Media Metrics
Here’s a basic rundown of the social metrics most valuable to your content marketing operation, including what they are, why they matter, and what they’re good for.
Metrics for Brand Awareness
If you want people to know about you, these metrics will help you understand how far your reach is.
Impressions: Impressions is simply a measure of how many times your content is viewed—a key marker to tell you how effective your content distribution strategy is. This info is easy to tally manually or via platform analytics.
Reach: Reach is how many people your content has, quite literally, reached. (Impressions = times viewed, reach = number of people who saw it.)
You can manually tally reach or use a tool that gives you a combined count. However, reach is only available on some platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. (Impressions are typically available on all.) Facebook will break reach down by paid vs. organic, too.
You’ll want to track your reach over time to ensure you’re growing. If you find you’re getting more reach on a specific platform, invest more time (or money) into that one going forward.
Note: Beyond your personal efforts, your reach can be greatly increased by publishers or social influencers. Find out how to get more earned media exposure.
Follower count: This is how many fans or followers you have across all social platforms. The more followers you have, the larger your community, so it’s worthwhile to invest in growing your follower count, particularly on the most relevant platforms.
Establish a benchmark (current follower count), then regularly measure (weekly or monthly) to see how quickly you’re growing. This will also help you get a sense of the demographic you’re connecting with most, which will influence your content ideation going forward.
Additional Brand Awareness Metrics to Consider:
- Mentions: How many people are talking about you or your products/service (or your competitors)? Mentions gives you a snapshot of the size of the conversation. This can be helpful to see what terms are popular, what time people are talking about you most (you may want to publish during these times), and how you might need to shift your brand story to change the conversation. To find this, you can use a brand monitoring tool like Hootsuite, or search keywords and tally up manually.
- Social sentiment: This is not just about how many people are talking about you but how they feel about you. Is their perception positive, negative, or neutral? You can use sentiment analysis to track the success of a campaign (or spot potential problems if you’re getting a ton of negative mentions). You can also monitor how people feel about your competitors. Using a sentiment analysis tool can be helpful. Here’s a nice roundup of them.
Metrics for Consideration
Once people have heard about you, you want to encourage them to connect with you. Here are the ways to measure how and if they are.
Engagement: Engagement is a crucial social metric that refers to how much someone interacts with you or your content (e.g., a like, comment, or share). It will tell you what type of content is most popular and who you’re connecting with the most (in terms of demographics). You can identify it by tracking:
- Link clicks (if applicable—not all content includes a link)
Tracking engagement provides valuable insight into your followers’ behavior and whether or not your content achieved its goal. Were you hoping for more shares but received a ton of comments? This can inform your content and content distribution strategy going forward.
Note: Measuring impressions against engagement (aka the engagement rate) will help you see how popular your content is. Luckily, both impressions and engagement feed each other. Even if something doesn’t get a lot of impressions off the bat, earning more engagement will boost the impressions, which could also boost more engagement in turn.
Metrics for Decision-Making
The point of social media is to build relationships that will ultimately lead to sales. Here’s how to know if people are converting from social.
Top referring social channels: Google analytics will show you which platforms are most effective in sending traffic to your site. You might have a ton of followers on Facebook, but if Twitter is sending the most people to your site, that’s where you’ll want to put your efforts.
Top converting social ads: Any time you pay for an ad on social, you want to ensure it’s working. This is crucial to find out what ads are working. (Pro tip: We recommend using a small portion of the budget to A/B test an ad. That way you can identify what’s working before you sink your whole budget into it.)
The Better Your Content, The Better Your Social
If you want to improve your social presence, you need to ensure you’re communicating as effectively as possible.
- Know your brand identity. Your visual and verbal identities help you communicate effectively. Make sure you know what your brand voice is and that you have a solid visual identity designed.
- Know who you’re talking to. Personas are a useful tool to help you get inside the minds of the people you’re trying to reach to ensure your content ideas will connect. If you haven’t created personas, here’s how to do it in four steps.
- Tell brand stories that connect. Good content will help you tell your brand story in an impactful way. Here are 9 ways to come up with fresh story ideas.