How to measure social media performance
April 21st, 2017

3 Ways to Measure Social Media Performance

by Christine Hennessey

As we all know, social media is an integral part of any marketing plan. In our digital, Wi-Fi-friendly, smartphone obsessed, status update addicted culture, businesses and brands simply can’t afford to skip the internet when it comes to marketing their goods and services.

That said, some people have a hard time measuring the effectiveness of their social media marketing campaigns. Other than “going viral” most people don’t understand what social media success looks like. Telling your boss or a client that you got 30 new Twitter followers or reached 15,000 people with a Facebook post is great, but those numbers don’t show how they’re helping the bottom line.

Luckily, there are a few KPIs (key performance indicators) you can use to measure the power of your social media marketing campaigns. The best part? Tracking how well your efforts are performing means you can improve and fine-tune them, increasing your ROI and helping your business grow. 

Reach

Keeping track of how many people your content reaches is an important metric. It’s also important to remember that reach only measures how many people may have seen your content, not how many people actually read, shared, or interacted with it. Still, getting your content in front of people is half the battle.

There are a few ways to measure reach. One is by keeping track of and increasing your followers or fans. If you have 1,000 Twitter followers, you can assume that 1,000 people have the potential to see each of your tweets. Same goes with Instagram and Facebook. Of course, various algorithms will affect those number, but at least you have a starting point.

Another way to measure reach is through impressions. On Facebook and Twitter, you can view how many impressions each post receives, which is a good way to gage what worked and what flopped. Impressions will almost always be higher than engagement because, as we’ll get to in a second, engagement requires both seeing and reacting to something. Most people will see and ignore. While this isn’t ideal, it’s still worthwhile and can help build your brand.

Think of impressions the same way you think about a highway billboard for Peter Piper Plumbing. Drivers glance at it every day as they speed by. Although they don’t interact with the billboard, it still leaves an impression. In a few weeks or months, when their sink is backed up and they’re frantically Googling “plumbers,” dozens of names will pop up, yet they’re drawn to Peter Piper Plumbing. Whether they realize it or not, that billboard stuck in their head and worked its magic. Impressions via social media work the same way. Difficult to measure, but effective nevertheless.

Engagement

Once you get your content to reach your intended audience, the next step is convincing viewers to engage with it. Depending on the platform you’re using, this can include likes, retweets, shares, views, comments, or time spent on your site. The more time users spend interacting with your content, the more successful your content is. It doesn’t matter if your content reaches millions of people—if they aren’t paying attention to it, it’s not doing its job. Kind of like having the television on in the background, or switching to a different radio station when the ads come on.

Engagement is especially important on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Because of the way the algorithms work on these sites, the platforms recognize content with high engagement rates—that is, lots of like and comments—as a sign of quality, and will show it to more people by default. If no one is paying attention to your content, it’ll drop off people’s feeds, never to be seen again. Yes, that’s right—the internet is basically one big popularity contest.

There are several ways to measure engagement, and some are more obvious than others. Getting lots of likes on a Facebook post or lots of comments on Instagram is a clear sign that your content struck a chord. But what about a blog post, or a great infographic you posted on your website? How do you measure engagement in those cases? If you’re using Google Analytics, you can view metrics such as “time on page.” This indicates how long someone stayed on your page, reading, scrolling, or clicking around. The more time they spend, the more engaged we can assume they were. This is even more valuable than shares because, as well all know, we don’t read everything we share on Facebook or Twitter—too often, we only care about the headlines. (Yet another reason why titles matter so much!)

Conversions

Most business owners don’t care if a post got 150,000 views, 600 likes, and 100 comments, unless it also resulted in at least one sale. People may love your carefully curated Instagram feed, but does that mean they also love your products? Maybe you got retweeted by a celebrity, resulting in thousands of likes. Cool, but only for a second. In the long run, it’s better to have one sale than a thousand fans.

If you’re selling a good or service, a conversion is considered the ultimate success. You can track this by installing a pixel on the checkout page of your website. This will measure how many people reached that page, and what led them there. On Facebook, you can create offers using specific codes, then track how many times those codes were used—another excellent want to measure effectiveness.

It can, however, be hard to attribute a conversion to a specific post or campaign. What if someone sees a post, thinks about the product that was advertised, and then makes the purchase a few days later—sort of like our Peter Piper Plumbing billboard from earlier? How do we track these kinds of conversions?

At Sage Island, we use Google Analytics to track many of our campaigns. It allows us to see where our traffic is coming from and how visitors interacted with our site. We can also see which social media platforms visitors arrived from, which can help us decided where to put the most energy. If 75% of our social media traffic comes from Facebook and only 25% comes from Twitter, it makes sense to allocate more time and energy to Facebook, since that’s yielding more effective results. One of the most useful things about Google Analytics is that it lets us track conversions by taking the whole buying cycle into consideration. This lets you see which pages triggered conversions—especially valuable, since clicking “buy” or “book” doesn’t always follow a linear path.

The Proof

In the end, social media is only one part of a successful marketing strategy. If you have an excellent plan in place and your business is growing, you can assume that your efforts on social media contributed to that growth. If you’re not seeing the results you want, then it’s time to analyze what you’re doing and adjust accordingly. If you’re wondering whether your business is doing the best it can on social media, contact Sage Island. Our team can track your results, change your strategy, and help you find success, online and in real life.