Social Media Metrics: Which should you use?

In a world of hackneyed acronyms, KPI (Key Performance Indicator) stands out as a term that carries actual importance. With any marketing effort, it’s important to keep an eye on KPIs to measure whether or not what you’re doing is working. Otherwise, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall, closing your eyes, and hoping the noodles are ready.

As important as having KPIs is, how you go about choosing those metrics is equally as important. Understanding and defining success isn’t a one size fits all. There are a number of variables that will affect the metrics you prioritize when measuring your campaign’s success.

Consider the Stage in the Buyer’s Journey

Just as you tailor your strategy, tactics, and content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, the metrics you measure success with are also affected by the buyer’s journey. In the awareness stages of the journey, your KPIs will be tied to reach and pure impressions. As you work through the consideration stage, those KPIs will be more aligned with engagement metrics. Finally, conversion level metrics should always be considered in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.

KPIs for Social Media Campaigns

When looking at social media campaigns specifically, there is a very logical path for choosing KPIs.

Awareness Level KPIs

At the very top of the funnel, it’s important to focus on reach-related KPIs. This includes understanding the actual size of your captive audience on the organic side of social media as well as what your reach looks like for any paid campaigns. These key performance indicators will be not be tightly tied to conversion level actions, and they shouldn’t be. The goal is simply to maximize your reach and awareness, so the metrics you track should reflect that.

  • – Organic Followers/Likes
  • – Impressions
  • – Website Traffic

Consideration Level KPIs

As users move into the consideration stage, engagement metrics should be prioritized as your main KPIs. While we’re still not showing intent to convert, these metrics show that your impressions are turning into a more captive audience that engages with your brand messaging. As you distribute educational and comparison type content, users in the research phase of the journey will be more likely to actively consume and interact with this content. Measuring the success of this type of content is best done through engagement KPIs.

  • – Comments
  • – Shares
  • – Clicks to Website
  • – Brand Mentions

Conversion KPIs 

The ultimate metric of success – conversions. Depending on the nature of your business, this could be directly tied to revenue or something more indirect such as leads. Keep in mind, conversion metrics can go deeper than simply sales or leads. The rate at which your visitors or audience are converting, the average cost per conversion, or even the average length to close for lead based conversions could be tied into measuring your success from a conversion standpoint.

  • – Sales
  • – Leads
  • – Cost per Conversion
  • – Conversion Rates
  • – Lead Close Rate
  • – Revenue Per Transaction

A Note on Attribution Modeling

When we look at attaching specific campaigns to conversion actions, it’s really important to understand that conversions are rarely a single click action. In other words, rarely will users see an ad or post, click through to that post, and purchase your product or submit a lead. Arguments can be made for last touch attribution models (where the conversion is attributed to the last piece of content the user interacted with) and for first touch attribution (where the conversion is attributed to the very first trackable piece of content), but the most important concept to understand is that it’s not black and white either way. Understanding the specific KPIs for different types of content will certainly help. Awareness level campaigns will rarely lead to last touch conversion metrics, but may be weighted a bit heavier if you’re taking a first touch attribution campaign. Defining the purpose of each campaign and piece of content and tying that to the appropriate KPIs will help you accurately gauge your overall success.