by Nikki Kanter
As social media marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun, creative work of managing a great social media campaign. From tracking how your networks look to social media KPIs (key performance indicators) like engagement rates and follower counts, every section has its purpose.
But something more critical to consider is how will your campaign impact the business? How do you determine a campaign’s real social media ROI? Let’s shed the vanity metrics and get down into the nitty-gritty of what really drives business growth.
The social media landscape has changed from focusing on quantity and toward quality. This is especially true as more businesses invest in social media budgets to drive revenue. Savvy marketers know how to develop a social strategy that offers a no-fail value proposition by measuring the right data and pivoting as needed to meet business goals. The value is always present, as long as you measure the right social media KPIs.
Define Your Core Marketing Needs Through Social Media KPIs
Not every social media KPI mentioned in this article will be necessary for each business across all industries. Social media marketers come in contact with a gold mine of data, but for efficiency’s sake, it makes the most sense to identify the challenge-at-hand, so you can most accurately set benchmarks to gauge success.
Some examples of questions that might help you define your core marketing needs, include:
- Do you need to reach a new audience as your company pivots its business model?
- Are you working with a startup that needs to demonstrate demand before pitching investors?
- Do you want to drive sales for a new product launch?
- Does your company need to improve customer service or possibly grow brand loyalty among existing customers to improve retention?
Define Measurable Goals & Set Your KPIs
Once you’ve identified critical business needs, you can put together a plan of what to measure to achieve your performance goals.
What Can You Quantify?
You have to know what’s your most valuable data. Let’s say you’re working with an established brand that’s changing its business model to reach a new, younger market. As a social media marketer, you want to demonstrate your ability to help the company attract this core audience. Your key social media KPIs should likely be:
- Follower growth
- Demographic shifts month-to-month
- Click-through rate to new product pages
- Mentions (tagged and untagged)
- Shares, especially by target market influencers
Track Your Target Audience
With more than 81 million fake Facebook accounts, you likely do not want to measure your followers only by quantity.
To track your demographic data, use a social media analytics tool like Sprout Social. Here, you can easily view Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram reports to view the demographic makeup of your audience across each network.
By setting reporting dates, you can compare demographic data to prove progress, or if need be, regroup and set a new strategy play. Compared against follower growth data, you can also track if your growth comes from acquiring your desired market.
Measure What Customers Are Saying
According to Brandwatch, 96% of the people who discuss brands on social media do not follow those brands’ owned accounts.
While Sprout can track the number of direct mentions for you, we also offer a robust social listening tool with a keyword search function. Put in your brand’s target keywords, including your name, nicknames (like how some users call Starbucks “Sbux”), and any branded product names. You will see all defined keywords within Sprout so you can track mentions and gain insight from your target audience’s feedback.
Outline The Path
It’s smart to see the path to your most important social media KPIs. One of the best tools marketers use is Google Analytics. Whether it’s social traffic to landing pages or checking Behavior Flow from your audience, GA has you covered. Integrate GA with Sprout Social to easily compare social activity to web traffic.
You can also track where grouped users (for example, mobile users) go past their landing page using the Behavior Flow report under the Behavior Tab in Acquisition on GA. If social traffic is going where you want it to, you’re in a good place.
Conversion is King
However you define your business objective, ultimately, your goal is to convert a casual user to perform a more committed action. Without conversion, your brand does not experience growth.
The most significant Conversion KPI you can measure is your conversion rate. This is the percentage of casual users who perform the committed action you want them to. The No. 1 way to prove the success of your social campaign is through an increasing conversion rate.
Other key Conversion KPIs to think about:
- Made a purchase
- Signed up for your newsletter
- Shared your content
- Filled out a contact form
- Booked an appointment
Within Google Analytics, you can “Set Goals” and define what exact conversions you want to track and assign monetary values to match actions if a quantified sale is not the result.
To better compete for marketing dollars and demonstrate the value of social media compared to other marketing methods, you need to define the cost-per-acquisition for customers converted through social channels. Your total cost should include your labor cost plus production and paid reach.
Once you’ve determined your real cost during a time period, in Google Analytics, divide your cost by the number of conversions. From there, you can look at your conversion values minus the acquisition cost to determine the profit margin on social interactions.
Without retaining repeat customers, your business is churning, not growing. While it’s exciting to show off increasing follower counts and mentions, business owners want to see engagement and lifetime value from their established clientele.
Some key Retention KPIs to consider:
- Number of positive customer care outcomes
- Lifetime Value (LTV) per customer
- Average response time for a customer care inquiry
- Net follower growth
It’s critical to measure how quickly your social media team responds to customers. That’s why having access to data that references customer care conversations and measure your net follower growth is key. You can see your team’s average reply time through Sprout’s Team Report.
To establish the lifetime value of an average customer, you will likely be able to find that data through your point-of-sale software report functions, such as identifying the median sale amount among your customers’ collective sales history.
Producing engaging content for social users can benefit your brand in several ways:
- An engaged audience is more likely to convert to customers.
- Engagement sparks your chance to go viral and increases visibility.
- Test what resonates and improve brand messaging.
- Gain opportunities to interact with customers and receive product insight.
Sprout Social’s top-notch social media engagement reports allow marketers to track what is and isn’t working and adjust their message strategy accordingly.
Comparing click-through rates among posts is an excellent way to see what content resonates with your audience and how you can direct your audience traffic to where you want them to go.
Click-through data should tell you what images and titles users click. This KPI can help you make better-informed decisions when designing paid ads or building out campaign landing pages on your brand’s website. Clicks account for 92% of all engagements on Twitter.
So while you work on improving your Twitter Engagement Score in Sprout Reports, there is still opportunity to meet your business needs through online traffic referrals.
Shares & Tagging Others
Comments and reactions are great, but you know what drives sales? User endorsement of your product! Developing and presenting social proof helps your brand win over consumer confidence.
At the same time, you increase your odds of building deeper relationships with your customers. When your customers see other fans engaging with your brand, they are more likely to do so too.
With 81% of internet users saying they’re motivated by their friends’ social media posts, and 92% saying they trust personal recommendations over brands, it’s easy to understand the power of influencer marketing.
In addition to influencing other users to enter your customer acquisition funnel–shares, tagging and reviews also increase your brand’s reach with most social channels’ algorithms. Social networks pick up that users like the content, and then your content is more likely to be shown.
This is especially important on LinkedIn, which has the least complicated algorithm of all the networks. LinkedIn also offers a robust user base of senior key decision makers for businesses. Identify your top enthusiasts, track your engagement history and see if your brand can reward your top users.
Get Started Tracking Your Social Media KPIs
Social networks provide a tremendous amount of data. Businesses should take advantage of the unfiltered feedback users publish in addition to the quantified actions we can track using tools like Sprout.
By looking at the data objectively, we can make better-informed business decisions to drive profits and reinforce the ROI of our social marketing efforts. If you aren’t already using Sprout Social, sign up for your free 30-day trial to try out the software and gain critical social insights and grow your business.
Nikki Kanter: Nikki Kanter serves as the principal consultant at her firm NK Communications Inc. where she advises tech companies, from early-stage startups to international businesses, how to use digital and social media marketing to meet their needs. She has unwavering opinions on barbecue (it's a noun, not a verb), the future of Snapchat, and adamantly believes there can never be too many puppies on the internet.