Social media metrics demystified



Happy New Year! I hope that like me, you had a restful, enjoyable holiday and that you’re looking forward to the opportunities of the coming year.

It’s at the turn of the year that we often take some time to make new goals, check our progress on existing targets and discard those aims that no longer apply. So it’s during this season of goal-setting that I think it’s important to take a look at your social media numbers.

When marketers talk about social media metrics, most small business owners tend to get lost in the jargon. But all metrics mean are the numbers we attach to our impact of our social media accounts. This can be as simple as how many followers your Twitter account has or as complex as how many sales you made that can be linked to a specific social campaign.

But let’s keep it simple shall we.

First let’s talk about why you need these numbers. Social media metrics act as gauge for how well you’re doing online. If you’re putting out quality content, engaging in conversations and maintaining a consistent presence on your networks, then your numbers should reflect that. If not, you might need to revaluate the content, audience or platform you’re working with.

Metrics give marketers, or small business owners, a way to determine a return on investment (ROI) for the time and money spent on social media marketing. They’re a way to value impact, ensure you’re reaching the right audience and provide feedback on what you’re doing right and what you should change.

There are three main areas that you should look at when trying to determine your social media impact: number of followers, how many followers are seeing and interacting with your content and which content is most successful. Each social network has its own way of tracking these interactions, so it’s important to find out what metric works best for each platform. For the purpose of this article, I’ll be taking a look at Facebook and Twitter.


Count your followers

The most basic way to tell if anyone is seeing your content is by determining how many followers you have. In theory, this should be the number of people who are potentially seeing your content at any given time, however in practice, only a fraction of your followers see your content.


Reach and engagement

While the number of followers is important, more important is how many of these people are actually seeing your content. On Facebook your Reach determines this metric. Reach is calculated by Facebook’s internal algorithms, the quality of your content and if you purchase ads. For Twitter, this number is not as easily tracked and is determined by how many of your followers are online at any given time.

Because the reach of your content is often out of your control, an easier number to look at is your engagement. On Facebook this number is based on how many people view, click or interact with your content. On Twitter you can track your engagement by counting how many clicks your tweets have. Unfortunately this metric is usually only accessible through paid metrics services such as Sprout Social. Another way to look at this number is by counting your link clicks. You can sign up for a free service called that tracks this number for you.


Content is king

The most important metric you can track is how many of your followers are actually interested in your content. On Facebook this can be tracked by counting the likes, shares and comments on individual posts. The number of likes or shares your content gets determines how interesting your followers find it. On Twitter you can gauge your follower’s engagement by calculating retweets and mentions. Both of these metrics can tell you if your content is having an impact on your followers.


Once you start taking a closer look at your social media numbers you will need to set some goals. This way you can see if your time online is actually bringing you the results you want. Keep the goals small at first and then increase them as your business grows. Record your social media metrics on a spreadsheet or document each month so you can track your growth as the year goes on. This will also help you make new goals for your social marketing activities next year.


Good luck and happy 2015!

Evelyn Senyi is the owner and chief marketer for Recurve Marketing, a Toronto-based digital marketing agency that offers creative, effective and affordable marketing strategies for Canadian small businesses and non-profit organizations. Follow Recurve on Twitter @recurve_ca and on Facebook

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