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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in metrics

Which numbers matter on social media?

Social media is full of metrics: How many impressions did your advertisement have? How many likes, shares, retweets, and faves did your post generate? How many people clicked through to your website? How many followers do you have?

All of these mean different things depending on the channel you’re on, but the question is, which of these numbers are the most important? The metrics can largely be broken into three groups: audience size, views, and engagement. Here’s a breakdown of what they mean and how you should value them in relation to your sales efforts.

How big is your audience?

On Facebook, your audience size is determined by the number of people who like your page, while on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, your followers are your audience. Different nomenclature, same concept. These are the folk who have asked to hear from you, specifically, and your posts will appear on their feed. You don’t have to pay anything to speak to these people, so the larger you grow this number the lower the cost of getting your message out.

As we said previously, you want to give your fans a lot of love, but don’t push a sale too hard or you’ll push them away.

Who’s seeing your content?

When you make a post, you want to know how far it goes. This is usually measured by the number of impressions the post received, or by how many people the post reached. The difference between the two is that while reach measures the number of people who saw your post, impressions measure how many times it was seen (even if it was seen by the same person multiple times).

The number of impressions can get quite high, particularly if you’re putting money into an advertising campaign. However, their value is limited. Imagine you’ve put up a billboard on the side of the highway: the number of people driving by who see your billboard are equivalent to your impressions. But you don’t know if “seeing your billboard” means if they responded to it, or even if they read it fully.

This doesn’t mean impressions are worthless. They do help build awareness for your brand, meaning that if someone sees your advertising repeatedly they may become more familiar with who you are. It is, however, important not to be too focused on them simply because they are a large number.

What is your engagement rate?

Engagement is measured as your cumulative likes, shares, retweets, clicks, comments, etc. In short, any time someone interacts with your content in a meaningful way, it counts toward engagement. These numbers will always be significantly smaller than your impressions, but they carry much more weight because they express interest. Track your engagement numbers month-to-month and compare them against averages in your industry to get an idea of how you’re doing.

Will these numbers help me build sales?

When you get down to the brass tacks, marketing efforts that don’t lead to sales at a certain point waste your time and money. Selling on social media can be fast for some (online retailers) and slow for others (B2B services), but only dedicated effort will get you there.

With all the excitement and publicity viral videos bring, there can be an illusion that social media is a fast track for success. In the real word, social media is much more like a workout: show up every day, put in your best effort, and over time you’ll build your brand and see the result in sales.

Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.

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For a long time, marketing and advertising have been, in large part, a guessing game.  But with online technology advances, your marketing has the ability to become much more targeted and effective.

Data, easily accessible to any business, allows you to measure how many people your marketing reaches, how many people engage with your content, how that affects your perceived brand and whether your efforts convince them to take action.  These metrics can equip you to know exactly how your creative ideas are faring, and whether you need to switch tactics.

But there are massive amounts of data constantly being created; every action users take while online is tracked, compiled and analyzed. There is so much data at your fingertips but making sense out of it can be overwhelming. So where do you start?

Google Analytics

Most likely you’ve heard of Google Analytics. It’s a free service created to track all of the relevant analytics related to your website. This platform is extremely robust, but can be quite complicated.  That’s why Google also provides you with great tools to help you navigate it. You can take this online Google Analytics course.

We suggest taking the class, but we’ll give you the CliffsNotes version as well. First, create a Google Analytics profile, which will provide you with a tracking code. Add this code to your website (ask your developer or if you are using a hosting site like Wordpress or Joomla, they have extensions). Once you've added the code, Google will begin tracking all of the traffic. You can look through the various reporting tools like demographics, page visits, time spent on the page (and more) and analyze what those metrics mean for your company.

Social Media Metrics

Social media is one of the most effective ways to reach a targeted and engaged audience online. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram are the most popular social networks and there are various platforms to track their metrics.

Hootsuite & Sprout Social

Hootsuite and Sprout Social are similar social media management platforms with analytics tools. However, when it comes to metrics and analytics, we prefer Hootsuite. With the free platform, Hootsuite allows you to track up to 3 social media channels, which is a great option for a small business. If you are running more than 3 channels, consider upgrading to Pro (it’s relatively inexpensive). From this point you can add all of your channels and use reporting templates or create custom reports to collect the data you want to see. Set these to run on a schedule, perhaps weekly or monthly, to consistently measure your progress.

Note that Hootsuite can only track metrics for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +. So, this is where the additional platforms come into play.


Iconosquare is a great, free reporting tool for Instagram. What the program lacks in robustness, it makes up for in simplicity. Simply link your Instagram account and it will email you a report tracking likes, follows, engagement and the best times to post. To get new reports, you’ll have to log back in and wait for them to run.

Google Analytics (for Tumblr)

Using the same account, you can create a new page and ask for a new tracking ID. Then within your Tumblr account, you can add this tracking code and run all the same metrics you would on your website.

Native Metrics

Various platforms are beginning to house their own metrics and analytics. Facebook has an “Insights” tab that allows you to see a strong set of metrics related to your Facebook page. You can see the effectiveness of posts, advertisements and page promotions all in this tab. You can even export the data into an EXCEL file for a more critical breakdown.

Twitter also runs an analytics platform, but only for its advertising. If you create a Twitter ad campaign, you are able to use their analytics to measure favorites, follows, reach and more.

Your metrics run continually and it’s up to you to decide how often you want to run reports, but no matter how often you decide to run them, establish a routine so you are consistently checking in.

Though this isn’t all of the information, this breakdown should give you an idea about how to begin to immerse yourself in the world of metrics and analytics. If you’re looking for something more robust, we’re here to help.

As always, we hope this helps you #MOVEahead

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