It’s all too easy to get lost in the wilderness of data that comes with having a social media marketing presence. Each platform generates its own unique set of data, and that data may not be comparable to that of another platform. Some datasets, like Facebook’s, seem almost exhaustive, while still offering only vague hints about what’s working and why. Others, like Twitter, are deceptively simple yet filled with nuances.
Which of these data points are relevant? When it comes to growing your social media presence and running effective social media marketing campaigns, what metrics really matter? And how can these metrics translate into the hard data that can be shown to have an impact on the company’s bottom line?
Let’s take a look at the 14 most important social media metrics.
1. Channel Performance: Pull back and take a look at the big picture. How are your individual social media channels performing? Are the trends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the rest positive? Is one channel outperforming another by a wide margin? Is one channel floundering? Simply having access to a cross-channel report will help you focus your efforts where they matter most.
2. ROI per Channel: The more accurate the calculation of your return on investment for every social media channel you’re active on, the easier it is to see where your time and money is most effective. Setting this up can be a minor challenge, as it requires tying a social media dashboard to your CRM, but there’s no better method for creating a full-funnel view of your social media marketing strategy.
3. Customer Connect Rate: How good is your team at responding to your customers on social media? Most dashboards can be configured to track not only who is talking about you, but how long it takes for you to reply. The better you understand your customers’ needs and frustrations, the better you can respond to them. Mix in the same data from your competitors, and you have a powerful new tool for gauging performance.
4. Prospecting Success Rate: Even companies who track their CRM stats with laser precision can have a strange blind spot for doing the same thing on social media. If you track the results of every meeting and phone call with a prospect, you should track the results of every reply, retweet, and mention you have with a prospect as well.
5. Mention Response Rate: Every time someone mentions your company on social media, it creates an opportunity. If they’re praising you, it’s an opportunity to connect with new followers. If they’re complaining, it’s a chance to address a problem and change an opinion. Unless you track it, however, you’ll never have a clear idea how effective your efforts actually are.
6. Social Shares: Having a huge pool of followers doesn’t mean much to search engines. If you have 10,000 followers who generally ignore your content, you’re performing worse than a competitor who has 1,000 followers that regularly share, retweet, and otherwise spread their content around. Tracking your social shares is at least as important as tracking your number of followers, as is tracking the social shares of your competition.
7. EdgeRank: Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm determines which posts are seen in the News Feed, by whom, and for how long. While the exact formula behind EdgeRank isn’t public, the basic factors are well known. The more people interact with your content, the more likely it is to show up in the News Feeds of those people’s friends. By tracking how various kinds of content performs with your followers, you can infer a great deal about your EdgeRank performance.
8. Reach By Post Type: Not all social media content is created equal. Your followers may love the content you share, for instance, but find your photos and status updates not engaging. If you were simply looking at generic “Post” data, you might not realize this trend, and might overlook areas where engagement and click-throughs could be improved.
9. Evangelists: Some people who follow you on social media will talk about you a lot. They believe in your product, your team or company mission. Often, they will have only a tangential connection to your company, but they still love to spread the word. These are relationships you want to cultivate, but they can be easy to overlook if you aren’t measuring how often individual followers mention your company.
10. Conversion: When you post a link on a social media platform, how often does it result in a sale? This might seem like the most basic metric to track in social media, but because it requires a few technical hurdles to be jumped between the dashboard software and the CRM, a surprising number of companies don’t have access to this fundamental statistic. Don’t be one of them.
11. Bounce Rate: Much like conversion, it’s worth knowing how many people click on a social media site to one of your landing pages, only to leave without looking for anything more. Your social media bounce rate may be very different from your search engine or ad campaign bounce rate, however, allowing you to examine what part of your message is and isn’t working for different audiences..
12. Lead Growth: Not every new follower on your social media networks will be a lead, making it difficult to gauge just how meaningful your growth metrics actually are. By tracking how many of your followers on various platforms actually are leads, rather than bots or otherwise non-sales related connections, you can create a more accurate picture of how well effective your social media efforts are at generating new business.
13. Sentiment: When people mention you on social media, what’s the tone? In the broadest possible terms, is it positive, neutral, or negative? By tracking this sentiment, you can get a very good sense of how your company is viewed, and how that sentiment changes over time. Unfortunately, this is also one of the more difficult metrics to automate, as it requires human-level insight. A few services exist to track this sentiment, but for most companies it’s relatively easy to track this on an ongoing basis through a dashboard or database.
14. Referral Traffic: If you’re doing well on social media, your regular web traffic stats will show a steady growth in referrals from those networks. This is another obvious metric that is often overlooked, as marketing teams don’t always have access to website analytics. This is also a good way of keeping track of social media-like trends from sites like Reddit are interacting with your publicly visible social media content.
Armed with these metrics, you’ll be able to accurately describe exactly how your social media initiatives are performing in almost any context. Instead of ambiguous trends, you’ll have hard data on what drives interest, what your customers and followers respond to, and what actions ultimately result in new business and fresh sales. Far from being a simple marketing tool, social media metrics can actually shape your sales strategy into an efficient machine.