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The most important social media metrics worth knowing

If you have been in the digital marketing space for quite a while, I am sure you’ve heard words like KPIs, metrics, and measures loosely thrown around. Sometimes these keywords are even used interchangeably or erroneously.

Some marketing professionals are either uninformed or simply don’t care about the differences between these terms. The focus of this article is to take you through social media metrics which I deem essential. However, before I get to that, I think I will be doing you a massive injustice if I don’t clarify the distinction between KPIs, metrics, and measures.

You’re not alone in being a bit unsure of their differences. I see these terms as building blocks for how digital marketing performance is assessed and achieved. It’s vital to have a fundamental understanding of them.

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Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Klipfolio defines them as a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a brand achieves its key business objectives. KPIs are essential because without establishing and tracking them properly, a company would be left in the dark about its performance. As the name states, they are a way to indicate key performance and measure them over time.

As a digital marketing consultant, I use KPIs to determine performance over time and see if goals are being met. They further help me assess my digital strategy effectiveness and analyse whether I need to make changes. For social media purposes, having well-defined KPIs helps track data related to your brand’s presence on individual platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or across a collection of platforms.

For example, as a social media marketer, establishing the average engagement rate for your Facebook posts as a key performance indicator would allow you to notice trends over time, such as how follower’s reactions to posts are higher over the weekend than during the week.

Metric: is a quantifiable measure used to track and assess the status of a specific process. Unlike key performance indicators—which drill down into what truly is key—metrics cover the entire spectrum, which comprises all trackable areas.

Jonathan Taylor suggests that with metrics, think broad. With key performance indicators, think deep. A typical example would be that a metric may monitor website traffic compared to a traffic goal. In contrast, a key performance indicator would monitor that same site traffic but only inasmuch as it’s related to, say, content downloads.

Measures: When it comes to measures, in the Oxford dictionary, the word measure is derived from the Latin word “metiri”, which is identical to metric, causing most professionals to use the terms interchangeably. According to Klipfolio, measures are a fundamental or unit-specific term—a metric can be derived from one or more measures.

Basically, measures are the numbers or values that can be summed and/or averaged, such as sales, leads, number of likes and comments, session duration, and video watch time.

A measure differs from a metric in that it’s unit-specific. Whereas a metric may be social media engagement rate, it’s made of measures such as a) the overall number of likes and b) the number of comments.

I hope I have clarified the difference between KPIs, metrics, and measures for you and hope you understand the main differences between them.

Now, back to the matter at hand, social media metrics, the most important ones, and how to track them.

One thing to note when setting KPIs, metrics, and measures, is that they should be tied to a specific goal and the goals determine the metrics.  There should be a related metric for every goal, which will help determine if your social strategy is winning.

All the social media platforms have their native analytics for you to view the different social media metrics. Facebook has them under the Insights tab, and Twitter you will have to navigate to Twitter Analytics. For Instagram and Pinterest, you’ll need to have a business account to see the date.

Just like with the other digital marketing tactics, social data is so enormous. And how should you be using all the different metrics can get confusing. However, as mentioned previously, the answer is about tying the metrics back to your social media goals. If you’re looking to drive awareness through publishing, how many impressions are you driving? If you’re looking to build a community, how many people do your posts engage on average? All metrics have meaning. It’s about interpreting what that metric tells you and translating that back to your business goals, Jenn Chen explained.

Before I get into the details of each metric, let’s look at each metric according to a four-stage social media funnel proposed by Hootsuite.

Hootsuite suggests segmenting the metrics into four key customer journey stages, namely;

  • Awareness metrics:These metrics show how aware of your content your current and potential audience is.
  • Engagement metrics:These metrics show how your target audience is interacting with your content.
  • Conversion metrics:These metrics demonstrate the effectiveness of your social engagement, basically, to see if your engaged audience is taking any action, i.e. converting.
  • Consumer metrics:These metrics reflect how active customers think and feel about your brand.

The following are social media metrics with goals that align with them for better measurement and tracking.

  1. Awareness metrics: reach, impression, social share of voice (SSoV)

Impression and reach can be a bit confusing to some; that’s why they are often used interchangeably. While reach measures how many people see your content, impressions track how often that content appears on a screen.

These metrics are ideal if your goal for social media is focused on brand awareness and creating a particular perception.

Jenn Chen explains that impressions can tell you a lot about your content’s potential for visibility on social media. However, it’s still important to look at other metrics for ultimate performance context. Suppose you have multiple goals of both increasing awareness but also of educating your audience. In that case, you’ll likely want to look for a combination of both impressions and engagement.

Social Share of Voice measures how many people are mentioning your brand on social media compared to your competitors. This metric is often used in public relations, competitive analysis, and paid advertising campaigns.

For example, if you’re a social media influence in Johannesburg, to measure your Social Share of Voice, you would look at how many people are talking about you online compared to your competitors (i.e. influencers).

2. Engagement metrics: Likes, comments, shares, and clicks, etc.

In an article I wrote titled “How to master the skill of calculating social media engagement rate“, I delved deeper to explain social media engagement and the engagement rate. In simple terms, social media engagement measures how your followers interact with your brand on social media by recording interactions such as likes, comments, shares, etc. Which shows they are interested in your content and may want to support your business.

Some social media platforms have different naming conventions, such as Retweets vs Shares.

However, the most common engagement metrics at a granular level are the following:

Followers and audience growth Mentions (tagged or untagged)  Sticker taps (Stories)  Get Directions (Instagram only)
Use of brand hashtags Saves  Direct messages Reactions
Shares Comments Likes Calls
Retweets Regrams Emails Texts
Replies Profile visits Quote tweets Clicks


For more details on calculating engagement rate, click here.

3. Conversion metrics: conversion rate, click-through-rate, bounce rate, CPC, etc.

In simple terms, conversion metrics examine how effective you are at converting your online audience into paying customers – Klipfolio

The following are the different types of conversion metrics and their respective definitions:

Conversion rate: measures the number of visitors who, after being aware of your content, engage with it and then click on a link in your post and take action on a page (e.g., newsletter subscribers, content downloads, webinar registrations) against that page’s total visitors.

According to Eddie Shleyner, a high conversion rate means your content is valuable, compelling to the target audience and a sign that your post was relevant to the offer.

Click-Through Rate (CTR): measures how often people click on the call-to-action link in your post. CTR shouldn’t be confused with engagement actions such as likes, shares and comments because the CTR ties to a link that brings your target audience to additional content.

Bounce rate: this is the percentage of page visitors who click on a link in your post, land on a page, and quickly leave the page without taking action.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC): this is a popular metric in Google Search Ads, and in social media terms, it’s the amount you pay per click on your sponsored social media post.

Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM): as mention previously, under awareness metrics, impressions track how often your content appears on a screen, and then CPM is the amount you pay every time a thousand people see your sponsored social media post.

Social Media Conversion Rate: This is the total number of conversions from social media, expressed as a percentage.

Conversation Rate (CoR): this is a metric coined by Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik. He explains that it is a ratio of comments per post (or video or tweet or pin etc.) to overall Followers (or Page Likes).

Tracking your conversation rate will help uncover how much of your followers are compelled to add their voice to the content you post.

4. Customer metrics: customer testimonials, customer satisfaction, net promoter score.

As mentioned previously, these metrics measure how your active customers think and feel about your brand.

Customer Testimonials: I believe everyone is quite aware of this one, but let me not make assumptions. Testimonials are basically customer feedback, review, assessment, comment, endorsement, or interview relating to a brand.

Customer Satisfaction (CSat) Score: this is a customer loyalty metric used to measure how satisfied customers are with your product or services or overall brand experience, GetFeedback explained.

Net Promoter Score (NPS): measures customer loyalty, customer experience and predicts business growth. According to Satmetrix, this metric transformed the business world and now provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs.

5. Customer care metrics: Response rate & time

This is a bonus metric that I feel is very important. It helps shift the perspective to understand how you perform concerning your service to customers and clients. This metric is important because it ensures that the social media manager is doing their job well and that customers are being heard and responded to in a reasonable amount of time.

Response time: tracks how fast your social media team responds to important and urgent messages, comments, queries, etc.

Response rate: measures the number of responses against the messages, comments, and queries asked on social media.

In an ocean of social media metrics knowing all the social media metrics could be a tedious task. However, in this article, I tried to highlight the ones I feel are important and worth knowing and used Hootsuite’s four-stage social media funnel to categorise them in order of importance.

 Since this is a lengthy article, let us recap, metrics are quantifiable measures used to track and assess the status of a specific process. Unlike key performance indicators—which drill down into what truly is key—metrics cover the entire spectrum, which comprises all trackable areas.

 And the most important social media metrics to pay attention to are awareness metrics, engagement metrics, conversion metrics, customer metrics, and my bonus customer care metrics. All of these combined will give you a holistic view of your social media strategy performance.

 With time, experience and exposure, you will add more granular metrics to make them more specific to your business goals.