Does Your Business Track The Right Social Media Metrics?

John Andrade    November 13, 2013

131105 Cisco-Social-Media-Measurement-Framework3A prerequisite for managing social media is their effective measurement.  A sensible collection of key performance metrics linking marketing input via metrics to outcomes is the tool of choice — but what should organizations take into account when designing their dashboard metrics for social media?

Luke Chitwood in his article 5 Social Media Metrics That Your Business Should Be Tracking suggests incorporating the following performance data:

1.  Audience Growth Rate

This reach type of metric can help connect social media data with business’ profits.  It goes beyond total followers numbers, and it can help evaluate marketing efforts over time to identify which ones generated the greater growth.

2.  Average Engagement Rate

By comparing a post’s engagement with the overall follower base, this metric helps 131113 brand posts and total engagementidentify the business is talking to the right people, and that those people are listening, as the audience grows.  It goes beyond metrics such as shares, likes, favorites, etc., and helps pinpoint the true tribe from all the silent followers.

3.  Visitor Frequency Rate

131113 user activityThis acquisition metric is a real improvement over standard click-through-rates (CRT) figures, as well as reach and audience metrics.  It helps to demonstrate the unique value of networks such as Twitter and Facebook, which usually have lower acquisition numbers than organic Google search, and to better target new and returning visitors.

4.  Assisted Social Conversions

131113 GA-Social-ConversionsIn my marketing classes I indicate it is usually hard to measure the impact of one isolated marketing effort on sales, especially the ones that use mass media.  The buying response is the result of a process in which the customer has probably been exposed to several messages, and types of messages, along the way.  Fortunately through Google Analytics you can follow visitors referred through social channels and track their conversions over a period of time. Moreover, by comparing Assisted Social Conversions with Last Click (Direct) Conversions a business can identify which social networks are better at attracting specific target markets, and which ones are more suited for finalizing the attainment of a pre-defined conversion goal.

5.  Customer Service Savings

By combining social media data with other business information, and comparing to the costs of providing the same service through regular channels, one can arrive to the savings provided by social media customer service efforts.

Other Popular Metrics

Bounce Rate, Click-Thru Rate, Potential Reach, Influence are popular and easy metrics tosocial media metrics guidelines communicate but, according to Chitwood, are not as helpful to inform decisions.  Why?  Among other considerations, because of the short attention span of social media users, the complicated nature of the algorithms used, or just because there are better suited metrics to understand social media users.   For more on how to establish social media metrics and dashboards, read the 9 related guidelines elaborated by Kay Peters et al.

Lessons Learned:

First, organizations need to have clearly defined business goals and strategies, and then identify the metrics that provide relevant information regarding the deployment and success of their marketing efforts.

Thus, it is important to establish a top-down approach to social media metrics and dashboards.  With the established information requirements, a business can then evaluate the relevance of metrics generated by networks and other data providers.

Furthermore, social media metrics is not all the data required by organizations. Other business information needs to be gathered and shared among all internal and external stakeholders.  Sooner or later organizations will feel the need for a central content hub that serves all channels on all relevant topics in almost real-time, for improved analysis and decision-making to be able to occur.

Web References:

4 Ways to Measure Social Media and Its Impact on Your Brand

5 Social Media Metrics That Your Business Should Be Tracking

Research Shows Twitter Users Band Together in “Tribes”

Social Media Metrics — A Framework and Guidelines for Managing Social Media

Submitted by: John Andrade – SMBP student University of Waterloo. To contact the author of this entry please email

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.