What to Do With Social Media Metrics

Social media marketing has the great advantage, compared with traditional advertising, of being measurable. Not perfectly measurable, it’s true, but much more measurable than an ad in the paper or a billboard.

According to a recent survey, fewer than half of marketers surveyed about their social media investment are paying attention to the number of visits they receive, fewer than a third note the number of likes or follows, and fewer than a quarter track conversion rates.

The organization that conducted the survey took this to mean that marketers are becoming more aware of the importance of brand awareness and customer voice, and good for them. However, it also suggests that brands may not be making best use of their social media analytics.

How about your company?

Social media metrics can give you actionable information if you know where to look. Here are some examples.


Impressions are the number of times your social media posts were available for people to look at — the number of times they appeared on a Facebook wall or in a Twitter stream, for example. This is similar to circulation figures for a newspaper or magazine in that the number of people who actually saw the item will be smaller than the number of impressions.

In many ways, this is the least meaningful number in terms of effectiveness and the bottom line. However, the more people who have a chance to see your message, the better, so you want to see this number increasing rather than decreasing. Think of it, along with the Likes and Follows, as a good overall check of the health of your social media, like your dog’s cold nose.

Meeting your customers where they are

You want impressions, but you want them to be seen — and to be seen by your customers and potential customers. Here are the places to look to be sure that you’re in the right place at the right time:

  • Check Google Analytics to find out which social media platform gets you the most referral traffic. Those are the people who are most interested. If you have goals up to check conversions by traffic source, so much the better. Use this data to identify the best social media platform for your brand.
  • Check the time and day data in your social media reports (we use Sprout Social but there are others that will give you this information) so you can choose the day and time when you have the most traction. Regular posting is essential, but you can focus your most important messages at the most responsive times. Then watch — make sure you’re not turning your customers off by concentrating your promotional messages too heavily at that time.

Keeping people interested

This screenshot from our Pinterest analytics shows how easy it can sometimes be to identify the topics that are most interesting to your readers. If you don’t see a spike in engagement, though, you can look further and get some clues.

Pinterest analytics


Facebook Insights, Pinterest analytics, and many social media reporting tools will either  show you all your posts and allow you to sort by reach and virality or just pull out your most popular items. Look and see what they have in common.

We’ve found, as a rule, that newsier items do better, while more personal stuff gets more traction at Facebook. As with all use of analytics, avoid the prom queen mentality and focus on your business goals. While pictures or dogs and babies definitely are popular at Facebook, they usually don’t lead to conversions, so don’t jump to conclusions.

Certainly, rules of thumb can be helpful, but there’s nothing like using actual data. Do posts with photos do better than those without? Usually, across all accounts, yes — but not for all our clients. Do questions get more engagement? In our experience, that’s not always true. Dig into your analytics and find out for sure.







One response to “What to Do With Social Media Metrics”

  1. Julianne Darnell Avatar

    “actionable information”. Yup. More precious than gold!

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