For many businesses, it’s easy to feel in the dark about how to determine the success of your social media. How do you tell if your social media efforts are actually impacting your business? What numbers should you be measuring?
I’ve written in the past about how using Likes or followers to measure success can be misleading, because they don’t really show a true correlation of your marketing activities to your business activities. However, for many people, it’s the first number they see on their social media, so they assume it’s the best one to track to see how it’s going.The reality is that you need to delve a little deeper into your social media or website analytics to tell the true story of the impact.
The good news is that it’s not as much of a dark art as people might think – because every business has a business goal. All you need to do is look at the metric which relates to that business goal and focus on that as your key measurement. Here’s how to do it…

Set your goal

While a strong social media strategy needs content which builds relationships and trust, when running a business, some of your content is likely to include something which directly relates to your business bottom line – whether this is pushing to your site or building a community.
Let’s start off with understanding your business goals, and from there, we can pick the metrics which best suit those goals.
Which of these goals is most important for your business?
a. people hearing about your brand
b. building a community around your brand
c. pushing traffic to your website (especially ad-based businesses models)
d. converting people to purchase a product on your site
Rank the goals from 1 to 4 in order of importance for your business in the next six months to a year. There is no wrong answer – every business has a different objective.
Go your key business goal in mind? Great – let’s see what metrics are on offer.

What are the metrics?

The next things we need to do is understand what kind of aspects can be tracked using digital media so we can understand what our options are.
We can measure:
Potential Reach: How many people potentially saw my posts through comments or sharing.
Engagement: How many people liked, commented or shared my posts.
Clickthroughs: How many people clicked through to my site.
Conversions: How many people clicked through to my site and then purchased something.
There are more metrics you can measure if you’ve got a specific business need, but these are the ones used most frequently.

Match your goal to your metric

So which business goal matches which metric? Here’s the key:

  • To measure people hearing about your brand, look at reach
  • To ensure the success of building a community around your brand, look at your engagement
  • If you are pushing traffic to your website (especially ad-based businesses), review your clickthroughs
  • If your objective is to convert people to purchase a product on your site, keep an eye on your conversions

Keeping in mind your one key business goal, it should be really clear to see which goal you should be measuring to determine your business success.
You can, of course, keep in mind secondary goals, but our objective here is to really understand what metrics we should be looking at that aren’t simply account likes or followers!

How do we measure these?

Now that you know what your most important metric is to measure, how do you find it and measure it?
If you were interested in reach or engagement, these are measured from within your social media analytics, such as your Facebook Insights section.
To get this data:
Export posts from your social media analytics dashboard into Excel – 30 days of data is a good starting point. Use a filter on Excel to sort the columns looking at reach or engagement, from highest to lowest. Review the most effective and least effective posts for the month, look for patterns in content language, style, hooks. Your objective is to either improve on the previous month, or to meet a goal you’ve set internally.
For those wanting high reach, it’s worth being mindful that with Facebook’s algorithm limiting post reach organically, to consider setting aside some budget to invest in boosting key posts regularly to gain that reach.
For those less familar with exporting Facebook Data into excel – here’s the crash course infographic:
For those looking at clickthroughs and conversions, you will be wanting to dive into your web analytics like Google Analytics, rather than your social media analytics, because your true story of your data referrals is there.
To get this data:
One key way is head into your analytics and look at your traffic sources. Review source/medium under Acquisition and how much traffic has come from social media channels.
If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, add UTM source tracking to your links to ensure which traffic is from your campaigns or posts. Or add Annotations to your Google Analytics reports each day to flag specific marketing actions so you remember when specific ad buys were activated.
If looking at conversion, use Google Analytics Goals or events to see if a task has been completed from someone from the social media channel.
An alternative low-tech solution, if you don’t want to delve too deep into data, is to conduct a survey of your customers. In the same way that many businesses measure other marketing efforts such as flyers or local advertising, creating a customer survey asking people if they follow you on social media is one way to approach this.
Ready to begin measuring your key business goals? Get into it!


Want to work with Rachel?

Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.

She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.

She is based in Sydney, Australia.

Want to work together? Rachel would love to hear from you. Get in touch today.