Which Social Media Metrics Matter Most To Marketers

You can find out almost anything, but what should you be looking at?


According to a recent study by The McCarthy Group, 84% of millennials don’t like advertising. The use of ad blockers is on the rise - 41% in the last year - and if you’re thinking sponsored content is the best way around them, you’re wrong. Young people are even skeptical of that. Just 24% of readers scroll down on native ad content on publisher sites, compared to 71% for normal content. The cynical little tykes.

In short, getting your message out there is now more challenging than ever, and marketers need every tool at their disposal. Social media is, and has been, a tremendously effective tool, not just in getting a campaign out there, but in opening up new opportunities for discovering who engages with your brand, who actually buys your product, and how best to target them.

However, many marketers have yet to realize these benefits, and still treat social media as if the main aim is just spreading awareness. The most recent CMO Survey estimated that a fifth of marketing budgets is now spent on social media, yet half of CMOs rate its performance as below average. Much of this comes down to basic failures in understanding the data around a campaign, and which metrics actually matter.

Measuring the success of a social media campaign is not easy. All the information is there, but it’s difficult to know whether what you’re looking at is useful or not. Obviously, the first point of call is still knowing that the message is getting out there. This means looking at awareness, reach, and frequency. According to the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the top two benefits of social media marketing are increased exposure and traffic — with 90% of marketers citing an increase in exposure and 77% saying increased traffic. These are fairly simple to measure. Large numbers of followers on Twitter and Facebook will likely mean a degree of exposure, but far more important is how many likes and comments your posts get. Klout is an online influence gauge that enters several data points across your various social platforms - such as followers, retweets, clicks on links - into its algorithm and gives you a score. Tools like Google analytics and Bit.ly are easy ways of seeing if people are clicking the links you’re putting out on different platforms to make sure they are actually increasing traffic to a place where they can buy something.

These are important, but really they just scratch the surface. The key, ultimately, is to look at these alongside a second layer of metrics. Your social media marketing goals require data that aids your decision-making and correlates with your company’s KPIs. In a survey conducted by Altimeter, it was found that only 34% of businesses feel there is a crossover between their social objectives and their company’s overall targets. You need to know that your social media efforts are generating leads and translating into customers. To do this, you have to be able to plug your marketing analytics into a contact database or CRM. Doing so allows you to connect marketing activity directly to sales activity and provides a full-funnel view of your efforts, as well as balance the right ratio of inbound and outbound methods.

It’s not just a case of directly measuring how well marketing and sales are linking up. You can also look at how customer action translates to sales over time. For example, does someone becoming a ‘fan’ on Facebook translate into increasing the amount they spend with you? If you put a ‘Buy’ button next to the Like and Message buttons, will more people click it? There is data to measure every aspect of your social media campaign that can be useful in some way, but ultimately the main question you have to ask yourself when looking at a metric is whether you know what action to take based on it? If the answer is ‘no action’, then the metric you’re looking at is probably pointless.

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