Social Media Metrics that Matter

Written by Sarah on 9th September 2015

So you’ve got quality traffic visiting your site and you’ve meticulously been updating it, posting regularly, interacting with social media, and you’ve been tracking some basic yet key metrics for your website.

But your activity on social media doesn’t always lead customers to your website, so how can you measure the impact of your social media activities within the platforms themselves and which metrics should you be looking at?

We’re in the throes of big data — all of which, unfortunately, is not always relevant. No place is there more confusing metrics than on social media. There are social media metrics that businesses should really be tracking, analyzing and making sense of to get optimal results, but due to the mass of information in front of them, they’re not picking the best ones.

If you’re looking to get valuable insights, you need to dig deeper into your data than just looking at Facebook followers, retweets, likes, shares, favourites and more – so-called vanity metrics.

Lars Lofgren has a great definition of vanity metrics:

Vanity metrics are all those data points that make us feel good if they go up but don’t help us make decisions.

I imagine as soon as you read that, specific metrics will have immediately sprang to mind. We all get that happy feeling when we get a bunch of new followers, but we never really pay any mind to why they’ve followed us or keep an eye on whether these new followers interact with us at all.

No doubt getting these new followers are an indication that you’re doing something right, but if all these people aren’t really interacting with you, then the point is lost.

Remember: the purpose of your social media campaigns should be to encourage engagement.

That’s why audience growth rate and average engagement rate are more pertinent.

While the number of social followers is a pretty good indicator of overall brand awareness, the audience growth rate is a sure indicator of positive growth, while the average engagement rate tells you how your social media efforts are impacting your established customer base.

Tools like Klout and Buffer can help here. By connecting your various social media properties to it, Klout tells you how well your content is performing. With Buffer, you can see the analytics behind the content you’ve posted via the platform, and even ‘rebuffer’ the posts that performed particularly well.

Don’t forget that Facebook’s own Insights and Twitter’s Analytics can also help to analyze the percentage of customers that are actually engaging with your website content.

Getting fans to interact with your brand is a great thing and a primary focus in any social media campaign; but the ultimate aim is to get more sustainable and repeat traffic to your website.

Use Google Analytics’ Social Report (under Acquisition) to track referral traffic from social media and calculate the visitor frequency rate—both new and returning visitors. While the number of new visitors indicates that your outreach is growing wider and wider, the return visitors’ numbers indicate the strength of your social networks and the extent of engagement.

You should also make note if one isn’t as successful as the other and adapt your content so that both new visitors are enticed, and return customers continue to receive the same level of content that brought them in in the first place.

But don’t just take our word for it, Josue Valles of EngageBit, did even more hard work for you and asked 55 experts which social media metrics actually matter.

The results? Of the 55 experts, 34 voted engagement and 24 voted traffic as the social media metrics that mattered. Check out his post to see some of the other metrics the experts chose.
social media metrics that really matter

Focusing too heavily on vanity metrics could result in throwing money at unsuccessful strategies, just because they increased your followers. By combining the key social media data we’ve discussed with other data that’s relevant to business, you can derive information that could translate into savings for your business.

There are thousands of vanity metrics out there that give you the ‘illusion’ of success, but as with any marketing channel, you should always dig deeper and combine data from a variety of sources to make sure you’re making efficient and informed decisions for your business.