For anyone who’s ever looked at social media analytics, you know there’s a bevy of metrics that get reported. Whether it’s clicks, likes, shares, comments, impressions, followers, etc., it’s easy for all the charts to blur together and get lost in the data.
The role of social media for business has shifted in recent years, moving from brand awareness to revenue generation, even for B2Bs. Those that have reaped the most benefits (and profits) leverage metrics to inform their social media marketing efforts.
RELATED: GET OUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR COMPLEX INDUSTRIES
Admittedly, no matter which social channels you use, there’s been a decline in organic reach across the board and you should consider including social ads as part of your inbound marketing strategy when they make sense. Whether your social engagement is organically grown or a result of paid ads, however, you still need to promote the right kind of content and know which metrics to track. After all, not all data is created equal.
The Most Meaningful Social Media Metrics to Track for Marketing
Traffic Back to Your Website from Social
This marketing metric is one of the most important that you can monitor, because it tells you exactly what kind of impact your social media efforts are having on your overall site traffic. You can even break your referral traffic down by network or date/time to get even better insights, and pinpoint which posts and social networks are performing best for you. If you notice a spike on a certain day or network, take a closer look at the posts you shared to see what works well so you can leverage similar content in the future to analyze whether it consistently performs well.
Of course, you’ll want to analyze the click through rate (CTR) of your post and, once visitors land on your website, compare it with the time on page, bounce rates, and resulting conversion rates. If visitors quickly click off your site, take a look at how you might adjust future posts (or your web page) to improve the user experience and meet their expectations.
Whether you get 20 or 200 new contacts added to your CRM each month, it’s important to know just how many of those potential qualified leads are coming from your social media campaigns. Of course, it helps to have your CRM software linked with your social reporting software, but if you’re a HubSpot user, you’re already set.
If you notice a big spike in new contacts, take a closer look at the social media posts you shared that day to see what types of content are most effective at generating conversions and contacts. Likewise, if you want to earn more contacts from social, make sure you're sharing advanced content offers and landing pages that can increase your conversion rates.
What’s the big deal about clicks? To put it simply, 1 click = 1 person who’s been convinced that your content was worth spending time on. People won’t click on something that may take them away from their news feed unless they’re truly intrigued to learn more. The more click-throughs your posts are getting, the more you know you’re doing a good job sharing content people want to read. If clicks are down, take a closer look at the content you’re sharing.
It’s important to also analyze the time of day when most engagement takes place. We’ve found that for some of our clients, scheduled posts between 9am and 2pm seem to get higher engagement on one channel, while other channels have better engagement rates earlier or later in the day, or even on weekends.
Comments and Replies
With each comment comes an opportunity to speak directly with one of your fans or prospects. Personal engagement is increasingly important as part of today’s inbound marketing campaigns. It’s also important to note that the higher number of people that interact with your post, the better chance it has of being seen by others within their network due to the platforms’ algorithms.
Even if the comment is something as simple as, “Awesome picture!” it’s the perfect chance to start a 1-on-1 interaction and show off your company’s human side.
Likewise, because it takes a little more time and effort to comment on something rather than just liking it, you’ll know the content you’re sharing has value. Be sure to engage with your followers and those you follow by commenting on their posts, too. Communication and engagement is a two-way street.
Total Reach and Views
Do you know how many people are seeing your post pop-up on their feed? Total reach will give you the answer. While the total reach won’t tell you who you’re engaging with, it can, once again, give you a solid idea of the type of content your audience is paying attention to so you can do more of it. Tracking reach shows you the peaks and valleys of your activity over time. Use that information to schedule your posts for the greatest number of views.
Vanity Metrics on Social Media
New Followers and Page Likes
On one hand, new followers and page likes are great metrics to track, because it shows you how much your social media channels are growing. You can also keep track of the quality of new followers to see if you're attracting potential leads or just your employees’ friends and family. Quality is important because, given the number of fake online profiles out there, the validity of those new fans and followers may be in question—especially on Twitter.
While Facebook and LinkedIn do a better job ensuring profiles are tied to real people, on Twitter, there are tons of profiles who follow any and every random account, just hoping for follow backs to boost their own metrics. There’s little chance of these profiles ever converting on an offer or becoming a lead, so you sometimes have to take reports of new Twitter followers with a grain of salt.
Everyone seems to be obsessed with how many likes something gets, but with a like simply being a show of approval, it really isn’t that helpful. And face it, a lot of those likes on your page can often come from your own employees, their families, and their friends, so you can’t get too excited about 20 likes per post if 15 of them are from evangelists or fans with no potential of becoming a lead.
On the other hand, a flat line for your engagement metric is about as good as a flat line on a heart monitor. Likes are nice to see, but shares and clicks are what you’re really looking for as a leading indicator of lead gen. If someone shares one of your posts, everyone he or she is connected to has the chance of seeing it, too. More eyes means more potential engagement with your brand.
Impressions simply measure the number of times your post appears in users newsfeeds, whether they saw it or not. It doesn’t tell you if they stopped to read it; it just lets you know that it appeared X amount of times. This can be a helpful stat for gauging your potential reach on each network, but it really doesn’t mean much. Confused? Check out this post from Sprout Social with more information: Reach vs. Impressions, What’s the Difference?
Measure Social Metrics that Contribute to Marketing Success
It’s important to leverage the social metrics that can have the biggest impact on your overall marketing results. The bottom line is to not become fixated on how popular you are; instead, take a focused look at how you’re doing in specific areas and what you should do to improve your efforts.
A good place to start is the ensure your social profiles are solid to begin with. For B2Bs, we recommend shoring up your LinkedIn profile, both your personal account and your company page. Learn best practices for profiles, pages, posts, and more in our complete guide to social media for complex industries.