Social Media Tracking Metrics: What Should I Be Tracking?

Lauren Owens - February 23, 2015

It’s often said that the true value of social media marketing cannot be qualified in dollars and cents. While this is true to an extent, it can be frustrating for marketers and other social media evangelists to “prove” the viability of a company’s social media marketing efforts when “value” cannot be quantified.

Fortunately, you can track the value of your social media marketing efforts so long as you know what to look at. Before you begin, though, it’s important to understand your goal. Specifically, what do you want social media marketing to do for you?

In this post, we look at five of the primary goals of social media marketing, and the metrics you should be monitoring for each of these goals.

If the goal is ROI…

If the goal of your social media marketing program is driving return on investment, you’ve got to determine what you’re spending on social media marketing in terms of personnel and distribution dollars. (Every time you “boost” a post, you’re paying for distribution. Make sure that number is included in your calculation.)

Then, so long as your goals are properly defined within Google Analytics, and you’re tagging your links, you should be able to navigate to your GA account and see the dollars driven in from your social media marketing efforts. For more about this, read our recent post, “Tracking Social Media Marketing Efforts in Google Analytics.”

To calculate ROI, subtract what you’re spending on your social media marketing efforts against the dollars that have been driven in from those efforts.

Note: If you find you reach a negative number, don’t fret. It could be that, while your goal is ROI, the strategy behind your social media marketing efforts is not ROI-focused. In order to drive ROI, you have to align your goal with your overall strategy. This may sound elementary, but it’s worth thinking long and hard about.

If the goal is to drive traffic…

You may be posting to your social media channels in order to drive traffic to your on- and offsite content. The metric you want to track then is how much traffic your website receives from your social channels, and specifically, your efforts within social media. (This is why it’s important to tag your links.)

You can check this data in Google Analytics. Navigate to Social > Network Referrals, and view Sessions by Social Referral. You will see the traffic driven into your website from your various social channels over time. For more specific information, and what campaigns or landing pages your traffic came in on, click into the individual networks listed below the sessions graphs.

If the goal is engagement…

Let’s say you simply want to find and engage with your audience on their favorite social media channels. (And there are lots of reasons to do this – the biggest being, if you’re not doing it, your competitor probably is.) If this is your goal, then you want to look specifically at followers, likes, comments and shares.

You can track this manually. Or, if you are marketing through Facebook, you can view your Facebook Insights tab, which will give you a bird’s-eye view of likes, shares, comments and clicks for all of your recent posts at once. This is also a great way to easily determine the types of content your audience responds to most.

In Twitter, you can use Twitter Analytics to view your link clicks, favorites, retweets and engagement rate for a set period of time. This platform is not as robust as Facebook Insights, but it is a nice way to see whether your efforts are paying off in Twitter overall in terms of engagement.

If the goal is customer service…

If your goal is customer service, you’ve got some work to do. That’s because, not only do you have to have an active social channel, you also have to have someone monitoring your channels, and the networks in general, for conversation mentioning your brand. (You might look into one of the social listening apps mentioned here for help in that department.)

In terms of measuring success, you can manually count the customers you’ve helped, or the customer service catastrophes averted on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. How often you do this depends upon how active or lively your channel is.

If the goal is exposure…

If you’re using social media marketing in order to garner exposure for yourself or your brand, you will want to track a number of metrics, including followers, shares and retweets, and relationships. (Yes, relationships.) That’s because if you want exposure, the best thing you can be doing on social media is connecting with others, who just may talk about you, share your content, and write about you.

No matter what your goal is, you can and should begin tracking your social media efforts on a monthly basis, making note of the metrics that matter most to you and tabulating their specific numbers each month.

In order to improve your social media marketing efforts over time, it’s a good idea to note the types of content (and topics) that led to your goals most often, and create more of that type of content for social distribution in the future.

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