By now, I think most businesses would agree that social media is an important tool for their businesses. (Especially in the pandemic era).
But now that your social media presence is up and running, are you actively tracking the results of your efforts? How do you know which metrics to track? Does follower count actually matter?
My first goal is this: to make sure we’re all in agreement that posting on social media without a regular plan for tracking your performance on those platforms is not doing much for your business. If you’re going to invest time in creating content and engaging with your customers through social media, then you also need to invest time in making sure your efforts there are contributing to your business goals.
How do I know? Because I’ve made analytics an important part of my social media and marketing work, helping them track sales, event client leads, and web traffic from their social media profiles in order to inform their strategies on those platforms.
So which social media metrics do I advise my clients to track? Let’s discuss from lowest to highest priority:
Vanity Metrics on Social Media Platforms
When reporting on social media performance to a client, metrics like follower count and likes will seem like obvious priorities. Everybody wants a high follower number right? We all want to see our likes-per-post grow. But it’s important to think about which metrics are indicators of social media’s contributions to your business goals.
I’ll be the first to defend the importance of brand-building and a maintaining a strong social media presence for all businesses. However, when it comes to what drives tangible revenue for your business, “vanity” metrics like follower count and likes fall lower on my list of analytics to track. I’m more interested in how you’re shaping your followers’ journey to becoming paying customers.
I definitely recommend recording your vanity metrics regularly (including follower growth, likes and comments per post, “Saves” on Instagram posts, etc) in order to assess trends and growth. But I would encourage you to place higher importance on some of the metrics we’ll talk about next.
Web Traffic From Social Media
Beyond following you on Instagram, liking your posts, or leaving a comment, what’s the next step in the pathway of engagement between prospective customers and your brand on social media?
Hopefully, followers are clicking a link in one of your posts or on your profile and ending up on your website.
How many people feel compelled to learn more about what you’re promoting? Of all the content you’re sharing, what inspires people to click your links? Which social platform is driving the most people to your website? How are people behaving once they arrive on your website? Do they stay and click around, or “bounce” off your site right away? This is all valuable information for understanding your followers and would-be customers, that you should be tracking regularly.
How do you find this information? While each social platform provides its own version of web traffic analytics, the data is piecemeal and often doesn’t provide the full picture. Your best bet for tracking web traffic is to set up Google Analytics for your website and use trackable URLs.
Ecommerce Revenue From Social Media
Okay great – you now hopefully understand how your social media followers are interacting with your website. Next, it’s important to look at how many of them are going on to becoming customers.
If your business has a Shopify page, or another ecommerce platform, you should be able to track not only general sales numbers, but also where those sales are coming from, including social media.
Connecting your ecommerce site to Google Analytics will give you a really detailed picture. Whichever platform you use to track your sales, make sure you’re able to see how many sales are coming from your social media channels.
Then you can start to assess: how much do we sell online due to Instagram posts? Do more of our paying customers come from Facebook? Is it worth our time to promote our product on Twitter? (Probably not, in most cases). Understanding how sales are driven from your specific social media presence will allow your business to better prioritize social media efforts based on what you know is working, and what is not.
Leads From Social Media
And finally – a metric that for some businesses is just as important as revenue: leads.
Do you have an email capture form on your website? If so, you can track how many people not only follow you on social media, not only feel compelled to visit your website after seeing a social post, but ALSO how many people fill out that form and enter your sales pipeline.
How do you track leads who came from social? You guessed it – Google Analytics. Once set up for your website, you can track completions of your inquiry form, and how those people ended up on your website (whether from social media or other channels).
Once you start regularly tracking that number, you can assess: which social platforms help us receive the most leads? Which of our posts inspire the most leads? How many leads can we expect to receive from our social media efforts in a given year?
In short, tracking key metrics associated with your bottom line is the only way to determine social media’s value for your business. With data abound from all of the social media platforms, and myriad options of metrics you could be tracking every month, I recommend prioritizing the core four listed above, with the understanding that vanity metrics are nice but sales and leads pay the bills.
Meaghan Webster is an experienced photographer and marketing manager in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California. She helps clients with everything from social media, to email marketing, websites, and content creation. Learn more about her work at meaghanwebster.com or see her latest updates at instagram.com/meaghanwmarketing.