Social media marketing is a new space, and it’s changing all the time. It can really be challenging to get a grip on procedure and best practices—from new platforms popping up and going viral all the time to Facebook changing its algorithm (and revealing not a whole lot about it to begin with). Every platform has its own unique metrics, and there is no real one-size fits all set of key performance indicators (KPIs).
That said, there are a few foundational principles that I think are evergreen. These are general metrics that will tell you a lot about the overall success of a company’s social media marketing strategy. And though knowing your nitty-gritty is essential when it comes to performance metrics, being able to keep a bird’s-eye view on your strategy is also really helpful. So with that said, let’s talk about four general KPIs that should form the foundation of any sound social media marketing strategy.
No matter how thorny and complex a social media strategy may get, the first and most obvious metric to keep an eye on will always be engagement. This applies across the board, and is pretty much the fountainhead for every other KPI. Fundamentally, social media is conversational. If nobody is interacting with a company’s content, it’s no longer an exchange: it’s a monologue. This kind of content will quickly fade into irrelevance.
As such, it’s really important that social media marketers keep their eyes planted on the metrics that indicate engagement. If you’re on Twitter, are people replying to your tweets and retweeting them? If it’s Facebook, do people like your key posts, and is there a healthy comments section beneath them? Are users interacting with your hashtag? These questions will be different depending on the platform, but at heart the question is always the same: does your content resonate with your desired customer segments?
You can call this reach also if you want, but I think what’s fundamental is how much influence a company or brand has on social media. Influence, reach, clout—whatever—no matter what you call it, it’s a foundational KPI. And though it stems somewhat from engagement, it’s a bit of a different beast, and slightly more difficult to quantify. But basically, influence breaks down into three major questions that a company can ask itself:
- How much reach do I have? That is, how big is the potential audience that can engage with a brand’s content?
- What is my share of voice? This is a roundabout of asking how your content is performing in relation to your competitors. How often do you get mentioned when compared to others in your market?
- How do users feel about my brand? Knowing what sort of emotional relationship users have with your brand is a key part of influence. After all, people might be engaging with your content, but they might also hate you.
The number of leads that content generates is a no-brainer KPI. It shows that not only is a company’s content popular, but it is also successful at funnelling users into the road from engagement to sales.
Lead generation tells a company whether it’s doing content right, and whether it’s leveraging the proper platforms to market its products. For example, a company selling fitness supplements might have a good following on both Twitter and Instagram, but it’s possible that only the latter is doing the heavy lifting (so to speak) on lead generation. Without monitoring this stuff, marketers have no way of knowing what kind of content is creating sales opportunities. Let’s face it: if even malware-peddling thugs can generate leads, your company has no excuse.
The bottom line is sales. This is crucial to keep in mind. If your content is driving massive engagement, and you know you have clout, and the leads are coming in, but something is failing to convert, there is a problem. All the retweets in the world won’t save a company if the product is not selling.
That’s not to say that building a robust funnel doesn’t take time. It does. But, if after implementing and monitoring a strong cross-platform strategy, a company still doesn’t see its sales moving, then it’s not really doing social media marketing. It’s just doing social media. So despite the plethora of metrics detailing all manner of data, the bottom line is: your efforts need to shift units. Conversion is the prime KPI and the one to which all others lead. Keeping this in mind even as a company tends to the other important metrics may make the difference between it sinking or swimming. Good luck!