Whether it is a thumbs up or a love heart, social media is driven by an obsession for grabbing likes. They are a great measure of success after all… or maybe not.
The reality is, that likes are nothing if the interaction with the ‘liker’ stops at that click. If you aren’t getting clicks to your website, and ultimately customer conversions, then you need to take a long, hard look at your social media strategy.
So, while likes may make you feel good, the social media metrics you need to focus on go so much deeper than that.
Vanity metrics are things that look good, but in the scheme of things they don’t really mean anything at all.
The number of likes on a post is a good example. Having 100 likes on a post looks great… but if those likes aren’t actual customers, that number is meaningless.
The number of social media followers is another vanity metric business owners spend too much energy on. You are much better to have 10 social media followers who are all customers than 100 followers who aren’t.
Vanity metrics are also very easily manipulated – e.g. through buying likes and followers – so it’s very hard to benchmark within an industry. While you should keep an eye on social media metrics such as likes and followers – the social media platforms do place some value on this type of engagement – they should by no means be your sole focus.
Comments are another one of the social media metrics that you should approach with caution.
Comments can be great because they are an opportunity to start a conversation.
Your potential customers could be asking a question about your product or tagging their friends in your post, which may help with spreading awareness about your brand.
But as with likes and follows, comments aren’t a solid metric that you should spend too much time worrying about.
On each of the social media platforms, users have the option to share content. And this can be a great thing for your brand.
When someone shares your content, it generally means it has resonated with them or they think other people should know about you and your products/services.
Shares are a good social media metric for how well your content is connecting with your audience. But it’s really important not to veer from your brand message in the chase for likes, comments or shares.
On most of the social media platforms, users have the option to save content to read later. It’s generally a good sign that you’ve captured someone’s attention and they want to come back to it later without it getting washed away in the fast-moving feed.
While you don’t have access to measure saves on Facebook or Twitter, you do on both Instagram and Pinterest.
Similarly to shares, saves will give you an indication of how well your content is resonating with your market.
The reach or impressions of your content is how many people have seen an individual post, or at an account level, how many people you have reached overall.
Your posts on social media can potentially be seen by many people beyond your pool of followers. When people share or comment on your content, it may show up in their friends’ news feeds. Hashtags are also a powerful way to reach new audiences. Hashtags are searchable on each of the platforms, so by using relevant hashtags you could potentially reach new customers.
Reach is another good measure of how much your content is resonating with your customers. But that’s really all it tells you.
When we start looking at clicks, we are getting closer to the money.
A good social media strategy is about driving traffic to your digital home – your website. On your website, you control the story.
On your website, there are none of the distractions of social media notifications or a constant stream of new content to pull a customer away.
If you have a strong website backed by a solid brand strategy and filled with high quality content, driving traffic away from social media and to your website is going to be a winning result for you.
But the real aim of the social media game is conversions. That is where someone clicks through to your website from social media and ultimately ends up making a purchase or enquiry on your website.
Keep in mind that it takes on average 11 touch points before a customer will be ready to purchase from you.
Those touchpoints can be a combination of social media posts, blogs, newsletters or retargeting ads etc.
For most businesses, social media will not be the greatest driver of website conversions. That is a title that generally goes to organic Google search traffic. But if you can get conversions from your social media – enjoy it while it lasts!
Through each of the social media channels, you can – to varying degrees – dive into the demographic data of your audience. What city or country they live in, their gender, age and at what times they are online.
It’s handy data to have, to not only check if you are hitting the correct target with your social media accounts but also to help with planning the times for your posts to reach the maximum exposure.
Of course, you can also access this information for your website in Google Analytics in a much more sophisticated format. The social media data is just more data in your toolkit.
It’s one thing to understand the various social media metrics, but what do you actually need to do with them?
The reality is that we have only touched the surface of what you can measure on social media. The trick is to not get caught in the trap of trying to beat an algorithm.
It’s not a race you will ever win. So, by all means, understand the metrics and check on them frequently, but don’t let those metrics alone dictate your social media, digital marketing or business strategy.
It’s important that you also measure a return on your investment. Are you spending more on social media – whether that is time or financial cost – for very little return? In addition to measuring your social media performance, you should also use Google Analytics to measure the results you are achieving through SEO. You can then compare the results to determine where you should be spending more of your time.