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21 Social Media Metrics to Track and Why They Matter

How to measure social media metrics

Social Media

29 May 2024 • 14 min read •

Ellie Innis

There’s one question that can stop any social media marketer (or simply anyone works with social media) dead in their tracks.

“What’s the ROI?”

ROI means return on investment — a broad term that measures the effectiveness of an activity. And when you’re measuring social media, the answer is usually…“It’s complicated.”

Figuring out ROI is straightforward when you’re dealing with financials. Did an investment make money, break even, or lose money? It’s not so cut and dry in digital marketing, where we try to understand customer behavior happening behind a screen. The picture gets even cloudier on social media, with its millions of customer touch points, hidden interactions, and hard-to-track conversions.

That’s why it’s so important to know the right social media metrics to track — metrics that will help you understand your customer, make smart adjustments to your strategy, and move the bar higher on your social presence.

In this article, we’ll look at all the metrics you can track on social media to help you identify the most powerful social media metrics for your business goals. We’ll also break down how to analyze social media data, so you can wield analytics reports like a performance marketer.

Here's what we'll cover:

  • What are social media metrics?
  • Why metrics need to be tied to goals
  • 21 essential social media metrics to track
  • How to analyze social media metrics
  • 3 common pitfalls for tracking social media strategy metrics and how to avoid them

What are social media metrics?

Social media metrics are quantitative measures that track the performance and impact of your content across social media platforms. They include a range of indicators such as engagement rates, reach, follower growth, and click-through rates, among others.

These social metrics provide insights into how well your content resonates with your audience and how effective your social media strategy is overall.

As a marketer or business owner, analyzing these metrics will help you make data-driven decisions that ground your social media goals in truth.

Why are social media marketing metrics important to track?

The social media advertising market is expected to reach almost $220 billion in 2024. More and more companies have focused their efforts on social media and increased their overall spending as well. If you're spending money, you need to be able to track where it's going and whether the strategy you’re executing is effective. In other words, you want to ensure your ROI is high and worthwhile. 

And we’re not just talking about ROI on paid social, where you’re dealing in literal dollars and cents. Even if you spend $0 on ads, you’re still investing time and energy into your organic social presence — and time is money. With the right metrics, you can translate your organic efforts into concrete and measurable results that help you make impactful decisions.

Whether it’s organic or paid, if social media is part of your strategy (and it should be!), then there are many different metrics you should be tracking.

How to set goals for social media metrics

The goals you set for your social media strategy and individual campaigns depend on your overall brand goals. Here’s a few things you need to consider when defining goals on social media.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Outcome: What specific outcomes do I want to achieve with my social media activities? Do I want to increase brand awareness? Drive website traffic? Generate leads? Boost sales?
  • Audience: Who is my target audience, and what are their behaviors and preferences on social media?
  • Measurement: How will I measure success, and what key performance indicators will indicate progress towards my goals?
  • Impact: How does social media fit into my broader marketing and business strategy, and how can it support other channels and objectives?
  • Resources: What resources will I allocate to achieve these goals, and are they realistic given these constraints?

Set your goals and work up your strategy

Once you ask yourself the questions above, and others if needed, you can work on setting your goals and strategy. The best way to explain this is through some examples, so let's look at how different goals affect your overall strategy when it comes to social media.

Example 1: Your goal is to increase sales to an existing product

If your brand has a product that hasn't seen the sales it wants in a while, then setting a goal to increase sales by a specific amount or percentage is a good starting point.

Now that you have your goal, you can start setting your strategy. Analyze who your target audience is and market toward them on social media. Analyze metrics that track the engagement rate of your campaign, demographics of those engaging, click-through rate, and increase in sales over a specific time, among other metrics.

Set a specific time frame for reviewing the metrics you decide to track, whether monthly or quarterly; just be consistent.

As you analyze the metrics in your timeframe, adjust your campaign if you feel certain aspects are underperforming.

Example 1 in action: Lancôme

A great example of a brand that does this continually and successfully is Lancôme. The beauty brand has been around for a while and is known for revamping some of its packaging but not changing its products.

An example of Lancôme’s Instagram campaign - Social media metricsThe example above shows how Lancôme partnered with a famous actress to market its lipstick. Since Lancôme's target audience is mostly women, partnering with a female influencer is quite effective as it will resonate with them.

A picture of Lancôme’s rebranded La Vie est Belle fragrance on InstagramAnother example from the brand is where it repackaged its popular perfume, La Vie est Belle.

By having something "new" to talk about, the brand can market the novelty and reach its target audience that way.

Example 2: Your goal is to increase applications to a specific job posting

Suppose you're working with a brand that hired you for recruitment marketing on social media.

In that case, chances are that your goal is to increase applications to a specific job posting.

That is certainly no easy task and requires a strong campaign to back it up. So, the first thing you should decide is who your target audience is in terms of applicants. For example, if it's an entry-level position, you need to tailor your postings to reach that audience.

There are several metrics you could track for this goal, but some key ones to consider are your demographics, reach, views and engagement, and click-through rate. The click-through-rate is a hot metric here as you want to ensure people are clicking on the job posting link you provided.

Be sure to track the applications received every month along with the social media metrics so you can continuously monitor the campaign.

Example 2 in action: Amazon

Amazon works hard to find new associates and drivers to help them follow through on their brand's promise of deliveries. On social, the brand got creative with its recruitment marketing.

A screenshot of Amazon’s Facebook campaign for hiring driversIn the example above, the brand showed a new shiny feature for one of its positions: an immersive experience for delivery drivers. The link takes viewers to an article explaining the entire process, with a strong call to action at the end to check out open positions.

The engagement through likes, shares, and comments was pretty high, so this is an excellent example of a social media recruitment strategy in action.

Establishing benchmark metrics

Anyone can “track” performance by logging data points every month. But numbers without context don't mean anything. You need a benchmark to actually interpret the data.

A benchmark is a standard or point of reference that can be compared or assessed. In performance marketing, it’s used as a comparison point to measure an activity’s or campaign’s effectiveness.

There are two general types of benchmarks you can use:
External benchmarking: Comparing performance metrics from other brands in your industry/sector
Internal benchmarking: Comparing performance metrics from within your own company

External benchmarks

External benchmarks aren’t always readily available because most performance marketing data is not public facing. Brands don’t usually publish their email open rates or landing page conversion rates for everyone to see. As a workaround, many companies choose to purchase reports or work with a third-party firm to identify industry benchmarks.

Lucky for social media marketers, a few key social media metrics are displayed for everyone to see. You can identify engagement rates across your industry or amongst a few key competitors and develop a benchmark from these numbers. If you’re starting social media marketing activities from scratch and you don’t have records of internal data to tap, this is a great way to start measuring your brand's marketing success.

If you find that your brand has surpassed the industry average, first off, that's excellent, but second, that may mean that you need to set the benchmark for your brand a little higher to keep striving for those high results.

Internal benchmarks

Internal benchmarks are critical for measuring success because they are specific to your brand’s performance. Since you have access to all of your internal social media data, you can set internal benchmarks for every metric that you decide to track.

While internal benchmarks are readily available, they do require time to be truly effective. You need to generate enough historical data to use as an accurate comparison point, and that can take months, quarters, or years. For example, you could compare engagement rate on image posts week over week, but your numbers are going to be all over the place. A more accurate approach is to track engagement rate over several months, or ideally years, and develop benchmarks from there. Ever heard talk of year-over-year (YoY) results? That's internal benchmarking.

One or two solid benchmarks is better than none, so even if you don’t have heaps of historical data, work with the numbers you have available and revisit your benchmarks at a later date.

21 Essential Social Media Metrics to Track

Now that we've seen why social media metrics are so important to track, let's look into the top 21 you should know.

Interaction metrics: Track how your community responds

1. Engagement rate

The engagement rate measures the level of interaction your content receives relative to how many people you have following your brand. It strongly indicates how well your content resonates with your audience.

Alt text: An example of a well-performing Adidas campaign on Facebook

2. Reach

Reach is the number of unique users who see your content. If your post was seen 36,548 times, your reach might be 34,432 because some users saw your post more than once. Knowing your reach can help you understand the scale of your audience for each post. It also indicates how well your content resonates with a more general audience, as reach is often dictated by recommendation algorithms on social media.

>> Learn how reach works in the Instagram algorithm

3. Impressions

Impressions are the total number of times your content is displayed, regardless of clicks or engagement. This can indicate how often your content is being surfaced to social media users.

4. Follower growth

Follower growth is helpful as it tracks the increase or decrease in your followers over time. This can indicate the effectiveness of your content strategy in attracting new audiences.

An example of metrics on Instagram followers

Ideally, you want your follower growth to stay on a steady rise because it means you are reaching more people. However, striving for enormous follower counts is a thing of the past. While growth is always good, it's better to have a smaller, engaged audience than a huge audience that never comments on your posts.

5. Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after viewing only one page. Although this isn't a social media metric per se, it should still be tracked because your social media campaign will often link to your website pages.

You can picture this as someone viewing your initial website page and then "bouncing" to another site. This is insightful data and can indicate the relevance and quality of your landing page content. If people are simply clicking and going away, you may need to reevaluate your current strategy.

6. Video views and engagement

Across social media platforms, video metrics are fairly in-depth — and they’re getting more advanced with every app update. Depending on the platform, you can track data points like

  • Total playback time
  • Average viewing time
  • Number of replays
  • Complete views 
  • Demographics and region of audience reached
  • Traffic source

Granular data points like these can help you test video content formats and storytelling methods. 

7. Story completion rate

On platforms like Instagram and Facebook (and now TikTok), the story completion rate is the number of users who watch your Stories from the first frame to the last.

This can indicate how engaging and compelling your Stories are.

If you see your audience falling off after a specific point, you may need to reevaluate that part of your campaign. Analyze why viewers tend to drop off at a certain point. Is there a specific topic or feature your viewers don’t seem to engage with? Can you test shorter stories?

Hypothesizing why your audience is reacting in a certain way can help you test and improve on your stories the next go around.

8. Audience demographics

Demographics provide insights into your followers' age, gender, location, and interests so you can tailor your content strategy effectively.

An example of age and gender audience demographics on Facebook

Once you define who your target audience is, then you need to tailor your social media campaign to reach them.

For example, if your brand sells men’s clothing, then your ads and campaigns need to be tailored for men. If your posts are performing well, but your sales haven’t changed, you may be able to see through your audience demographic that you were reaching the wrong target audience.

Audience demographics will be key to ensuring you're reaching the right people.

Unique metrics: Go beyond the basics

9. Social share of voice

This metric measures your brand's visibility and conversations around it compared to your competitors. It reflects your market presence and brand awareness. You'll need to get access to a social listening tool in order to fully monitor brand mentions.

10. Virality rate

This metric shows you how fast your content is reaching a wider audience. To calculate a post's virality rate, divide the number of shares by the number of impressions it has. Then, multiply by 100 to get a percentage. The higher the number, the more "viral" your post is. 

Calculating virality rate is especially useful for short-form video content, since the algorithms that govern this content type are built for recommendation and reach. This metric can give you a sense of what kind of Reels, TikToks, or YouTube Shorts are likely to be recommended on their respective platforms.

11. Comment rate

The comment rate is the number of comments per post relative to your followers or reach. This metric can gauge the conversation your content is sparking.

An NFL post with a high comment rate on Instagram

You can calculate comment rate by dividing the number of comments on a post by your follower count, or by the number of impressions the post got. If community engagement and nurture is a big part of your social strategy, comment rate can be a much more powerful metric to track over other engagement metrics.

12. Brand mentions

Brand mentions are the frequency at which your brand is mentioned on social media. It can be a measure of brand awareness and sentiment. Like social share of voice, you'll need access to a social listening tool to accurately capture all brand mentions.

13. Top performing content

An example of a top-performing post on Fedex’s Instagram

Identifying the posts that generate the most social media engagement, reach, or conversions can guide your content strategy. Therefore, your top-performing content should be one of the key social media metrics you track.

14. Sentiment analysis

This metric is unique and insightful about perceptions around your brand. Sentiment analysis evaluates the emotional tone of conversations and mentions about your brand, categorizing them as positive, negative, or neutral.

Keep in mind that this metric is found by evaluating other metrics. It’s a form of social listening so you can keep an eye on how the public is interacting with your brand.

Although you may not need to track this one regularly, it could be helpful if your social media marketing strategy involves improving public perception of your brand.

15. Saved posts

On platforms like Instagram, you can track the number of times users save your posts. Saved posts indicate that users find your content valuable enough to bookmark for later reference.

16. Reshares

Reshares are often considered a pure engagement metric, but they can mean so much more for your brand. According to Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, the most used part of Instagram is actually Messenger. That means that most interactions over content are happening behind closed doors. That’s called dark social, and it’s not easy to track. But you can track reshares. And Instagram does too. Reshares are when someone sends your post to another person, usually via the in-app messenger. They signal to the algorithm that a post is engaging, and this number could boost your reach and ranking.

17. Search metrics

As search behaviors grow on social media, the platforms are responding by bulking up their search engine capabilities. This means creators have more insights into how people find their content. Right now, TikTok offers insights into search keywords that help people find your content. Expect these metrics to grow in the future.

Cost-associated metrics: Track your spending

18. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who clicked on a link or image in your post. High CTR means your content successfully encourages action.

19. Conversion rate

This measures the percentage of users who take a desired action after clicking on a link from your social media content. You'll have to define what a "conversion" means for your team, or for the particular campaign you're working on. Some outcomes of this metric include making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

20. Cost Per Click (CPC)

In paid campaigns, CPC measures how much you pay for each click on your ad. It's crucial for budgeting and assessing the cost-effectiveness of your ads.

21. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Considering all campaign expenses, customer acquisition cost is the total cost of acquiring a new customer through social media. It helps in evaluating the ROI of your social media efforts.

How to analyze social media metrics

If you want to understand the effectiveness of your social media strategy, then analyzing social media metrics can be as simple as…

  • Defining your goal and identifying the social media metrics that will help you measure performance on that goal
  • Establishing a benchmark for each of your metrics
  • Tracking your metrics in a consistent timeframe
  • Measuring your metrics against the benchmark — did your metrics hit below benchmark? Time to make adjustments. 
    Did they hit above? Time to set your sights higher.

If your goal is to increase brand awareness, then analyzing data on social media engagement rates, reach, audience growth rate, and other metrics can be helpful to prove how you have grown your audience and their awareness of your brand.

If your goal is to increase the number of applicants to a job posting, analyzing applications received, click-through rates, and impressions could be crucial social media metrics.

If you analyze and see that your metrics aren't improving, then tracking regularly can help you make changes immediately so your campaign can be successful.

Tracking metrics across multiple social platforms

You can track social metrics by using the native analytics available in each of the social platforms you use. But with so many social media platforms available — each with their own unique interfaces and features — it can be hard to pull data quickly, track trends across channels, and develop a holistic view of your social performance.

A social media posting tool with built-in analytics makes reporting and analysis 100x easier. 

loomly analyticsLoomly Analytics dashboard

Loomly Analytics gives you in-depth account level statistics and post metrics across all of your social media channels in one dashboard. Curious what your overall social engagement rate looked like in Q1? Want to know how a multi-channel campaign performed over a set duration? Curious to see how LinkedIn posts perform against Instagram? Instead of switching between every app's native analytics panels, you can do it all via Loomly's analytics dashboard.

With post labels, you can also track how certain content types perform overall, or how campaigns perform across social channels. For example, you can tag all of your educational content with the label "Education." Simply filter by this filter in the Analytics dashboard to see how this type of post resonates with your audience.

Loomly also pulls the top social media metrics on each channel, so you can keep up with what's working and what isn't on a daily basis.

Native analytics tools will serve you fine — until your social presence expands beyond one channel or account. Then it's probably time to consider a social media management tool with built-in analytics, like Loomly!

3 common pitfalls for tracking social media strategy metrics and how to avoid them

Tracking data is key to your brand's success. The right data can guide your decision-making when setting up your social media strategy. However, there are some common pitfalls to tracking social media. 

1. Missing the forest for the trees

Sometimes you end up getting into the weeds on social media analytics. Maybe you become concerned about why your comment rate has fallen and try to find a way to get people to comment on your posts. But did you check your engagement rate in this scenario? Has it remained the same or increased?

The answer could simply be that people are liking your social media posts, clicking straight to the link you provided, and not commenting on your post. If your engagement rate and click-through rate are high, your campaign is probably very effective despite a lower comment rate.

The lesson is don't be overly concerned about just one data point. Take a step back and look at your data overall to measure the performance of your social media campaign.

2. Comparison spiral

Although having external benchmarks is important for measuring success, don't compare your beginning to another's brand middle. Every brand is operating under a unique social strategy, and some brands may have been in the market longer than your brand.

Remember that every brand starts at zero, and just because you don't have as many followers or likes as another brand doesn't mean that your strategy is wrong. You probably just need to give your brand the time it needs to grow and flourish in your market.

So, take a deep breath and analyze your brand's growth over time.

3. Analysis paralysis

If you're looking at all the data you want to track and suddenly feel so overwhelmed that you don't want to track any of it, don't fall into analysis paralysis. Stick to a few basics.

Focus on your goals, define your brand's key social media performance metrics, and monitor those. Avoid being overwhelmed by all the different options by focusing on the ones that work best for your goals.

Final thoughts on measuring your social media metrics

Regularly monitoring social media metrics allows you to see what's working and what's not. It gives you opportunities to pivot or adjust your strategy as needed. This continuous loop of planning, executing, reviewing, and refining turns a good social media strategy into a great one. Plus, the insights gained from social media metrics can inform broader marketing strategies, helping ensure a cohesive and integrated approach across all channels. 

Knowing social media metrics and how to use them to reach your goals is what creates elite social media marketers.

Remember that social media changes quickly, with algorithm updates, new tools and features, and shifting user behaviors transforming the metrics you need to pay attention. Staying agile and open to change is key to maintaining relevance and effectiveness in your social media efforts.

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