The Metrics that Matter in Social

5 min read by tom 15 Sep 2016

Metrics that Matter

Both businesses and marketers are hard wired to value metrics as a true measurement of success. As marketing activity leans further towards valuing digital over traditional methods, this has never been so important, and the metrics on offer, have never been so bountiful.

If there is one element in which metrics suffer, it is social media. Social fights a constant battle to prove ROI to businesses, offering a less obvious route to conversions, and a somewhat confusing selection of apparently irrelevant metrics.

However, it’s importance should not be underestimated, as with an understanding of the metrics that are key to success, we can accurately assess the value of our social platforms.

Audience Size

Whilst audience size can definitely be considered somewhat of a vanity metric, it goes a long way towards affording a certain amount of credibility to an organisation. A large portion of people’s lives are now spent on social media platforms, and it’s how many of us consume media and brands at large. As such, our natural understanding of and affinity to brands comes from our experience on social media platforms. Thus, the size of one’s audience becomes an important metric.

Audience Profile

Of course, the audience size is only as useful as the relevance of said audience. This is why the profile of the target audience needs to be filtered to match the product or brand in question, to better influence the behaviour you’re seeking to encourage in people.

Audiences are built at an early stage, and the detailed targeting of social media adverts makes it easy to target the type of people you want to be engaging with and inspiring. However, audience profiles need to be assessed regularly, to ensure that they remain useful to your business needs and goals. The questions to consider are…

• Is the audience relevant?
• Are they engaged?
• Are they helping the business move forward?

Reach and Engagement

This is an assessment of how many people are seeing your content and how well it is being engaged with. Much of this is dependent upon your audience profile, but a simple equation to consider would be, if no one is engaging with your content, then there is either a problem with the content, or a problem with the audience. Consider your audience in 3 groups:

• Lurkers – people who monitor but don’t interact.
• Influencers – have access to a larger audience, with the potential of influencing this audience.
• Engagers – these are the most active members of your community, who will become familiar over time and could potentially be turned into advocates for your brand.


Whilst social media should not be considered a sole traffic generator, it is reasonable to expect that the content you share will generate traffic to your website. Measuring the amount of traffic is not enough though. It is important to consider the impact that the traffic is having, and whether it matches your needs and expectations.

Content Analysis

No matter what industry or platform, success on social media is dependent upon getting the content right. You need to analyse the content you share frequently to see what is working and what is not. Questions to consider are:

• Which type(s) of content is performing best? Videos, pictures or text?
• Do you have the right mix of content?
• What changes have happened on the platform that could mean you need to change your content? (e.g. changes to profile images)
• Are you getting engagement/interaction on your posts?

Community Responsiveness

When discussing community responsiveness, we refer not only to your community’s responsiveness to you, but indeed your responsiveness to your community. Social media offers the best opportunity to talk directly to your customers, so you need to assess how well you communicate with them.

Are you talking to and responding to them when they need you to, are you engaging with them in conversation? This is of paramount importance if you ae using social media as a customer service channel. It should always be a dialogue rather than a monologue.

Competitor Benchmarking

Whilst confidence in one’s own strategy is vital, it is always important to consider what your competitors are doing. In order to stay abreast of this, look to complete a regular comparison of your social activity versus that of your key competitors. In doing so, you should consider what their engagement stats are like, the size of their audience and the accuracy of their profile.

This is a difficult metric to work with, as one should not be in anyway held to these stats, but they do give you a basis of things to learn from and things to avoid.

Sentiment Analysis

A full description of sentiment analysis would be: “Sentiment analysis (also known as opinion mining) refers to the use of natural language processing, text analysis and computational linguistics to identify and extract subjective information in source materials.”

This is hard to analyse without a specific tool, although free services like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck will allow you to view most of the mentions of your product or service, which can help you to analyse positive, negative or neutral sentiments.

If you’d like to discuss your social strategy, or find out more about the key metrics involved, get in touch today.

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