Companies across industries use social media to educate their audiences on company news and updates, engage with customers and prospects, inject themselves into trending conversations, and more. It is also a treasure trove of information. By regularly posting on social media, companies can gain insight, from what types of content resonates best with their target audience and how engaged their viewers are, to how social channels impact website performance, how frequently the brand needs to be in front of a customer before they take a desired action, and more.
But, with such a wide range of data available, it can be hard to sift through the clutter and find the insights that truly matter. Knowing the types of data available to you and what it all means can help you improve your social media strategy moving forward. A firm grasp on your social media data allows you to establish baselines, set goals and monitor progress towards those goals – a much more effective strategy than simply tracking progress against an “industry benchmark.”
Use this guide to understand the data that’s already at your fingertips and start to track results. Then, identify the social media metrics most important to your business and track those datapoints closely and regularly.
Use metrics to make incremental improvements
First, it’s important to understand how often your social media content is seen. Impressions calculate the total number of times your content has been viewed – including multiple views by the same person. On the other hand, reach calculates the number of unique individuals that have seen your post. All major platforms share impression data for organic and sponsored content. Facebook and Instagram share reach for both organic and sponsored content, but LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter only share reach on ads.
Once you understand the size of your audience, the next step is to see how people are interacting with the content. Engagement calculates the number of times an individual likes, comments or shares the content. To get the engagement rate, you divide the number of engagements by the total reach and then multiply by 100. In addition to interacting with the post, you can also monitor clicks to understand how many people clicked on the content you shared (such as a linked article or an image). Click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions, then multiplied by 100. All major platforms share engagement and clicks for both organic and sponsored content.
Measure the effectiveness of ads
While it’s important to understand the impact of your social media content, it’s even more critical to measure the ROI of any social media ads. Advertising metrics help you narrow in on what works best, such as the messaging or the audience demographics. This insight can help you maximize the return on your investment.
The first type of metrics to monitor is the cost per specific actions. The two most common types of “cost per” metrics are cost per click (CPC) and cost per mille (CPM). CPC highlights how much you spend for each person that clicks on an ad. CPM calculates how much it costs for an ad to be shown 1,000 times. Note, CPM uses impressions – not reach – so an ad could be shown to the same individual multiple times, and each time would count toward this metric. All major social media platforms share these metrics in their ad manager platforms. A metric related to CPM is an ad’s frequency. This is the average number of times your ad is displayed to a unique user. Frequency is available on all major platforms and can also be easily calculated by dividing an ad’s impressions by its reach.
Two of the most important metrics to monitor when advertising on social media are conversions and return on ad spend (ROAS). These data points help you confirm the money spent on advertising is driving the actions you want viewers to take. Conversions measure the number of times ad viewers take a desired action, specified by you. That action could be downloading content, subscribing to a mailing list or registering for a webinar. Similarly, conversion rate is the number of conversions on an ad, divided by the number of impressions. This metric helps you understand the percentage of times someone takes the action you desire when shown your ad. ROAS is calculated by adding pixels to your website that monitors how many people who come to the site from social media complete a purchase. All social platforms provide these datapoints in their ad manager platforms. (Note that the ROAS metric is labeled “Value per Complete Payment” on TikTok.)
Ready, Set Goals, Go
Now that you are familiar with the most common social media metrics, it’s time to set your goals and identify the metrics most relevant to those goals. For example, if your goal is brand awareness, impressions and reach will be the most important metrics. But, if you’re trying to maximize web traffic, the CTR will be more valuable.
Once you understand which metric is most valuable to your goal, use the data to calculate your baseline performance and identify which posts performed well and which did not. For example, if you’re monitoring impressions, you may have an average of 100 impressions per post, but a few posts had more than 300 impressions and a few had less than 50. When tracking baseline performance, make sure you have a meaningful dataset to evaluate. If your company is posting on a channel daily, you’ll have collected a large amount of data within a month. But, if you’re posting less frequently, you’ll want to collect data for a longer period of time to ensure the insights you glean are accurate and meaningful.
With this baseline data, you can evaluate the difference between the high- and low-performing posts to begin to make changes to your social media strategy moving forward. Factors to consider when evaluating posts are the length of the content, the copy, the call-to-action, imagery, and the day and time the content was posted. Test out different tactics to see how the baseline measurement changes. Continue to test and repeat, and soon you’ll uncover insights that help you maximize your company’s performance on social media.