The biggest challenge to managing and measuring your social media campaigns is knowing what metrics are truly important to your business.
In fact, this challenge is so universal that it's spawned its very own term: 'vanity metrics'.
Vanity metrics are bare numbers like 'page views' and 'Facebook likes', stats that make you feel good because they seem to indicate growth, but provide no real return on investment or insight for further development.
Unlike vanity metrics, actionable metrics provide useful data which helps businesses see the true impact of their content and marketing efforts, insights they can use to make better decisions to grow in future.
So to make sure you're investing where it really counts, here are five actionable metrics every social media campaign should track and optimize.
Is your campaign reaching and resonating with your audience?
The starting point for managing and measuring your social media is impact - that is, how well your campaigns are performing on the social media platforms themselves.
This can take many forms because each platform has its own metrics for performance - on Facebook, this will be indicated by reach, Likes, comments, shares, and image/video views. On Twitter, however, you can measure impact via replies, retweets, and favorites (or 'likes' as they're now known there also).
The best way to measure the impact of your content is to use the native analytics tools provided by each platform, such as Twitter Analytics or Facebook Insights (shown below). Some platforms don't provide this information, but there are free and low cost third-party tools which do a great job filling in the missing pieces, such as Tailwind for Pinterest and Iconosquare for Instagram.
Facebook Insights (Image Credit: Meltwater)
Impact is about brand awareness and building an audience. It's important to pay attention to how many people are not just seeing, but are interacting with your content. The more engaged your audience is, the better for you.
Additionally, people who share your content give you an even better chance of reaching and connecting with a wider audience. Word-of-mouth is extremely powerful - recommendations from peers are more influential than those from businesses. As such, having your audience share your content and show their affinity for you can go a long way with potential prospects.
Are people driven to learn more about your campaign? If so, who are they and where are they coming from?
Every social media campaign should be accompanied by a link to your website where people go to get more information or take the next step to becoming a customer. This is typically a landing page where they sign-up for an offer or make a purchase.
Businesses need to track how many people are actually clicking through from social media posts to their landing pages - and more importantly, where these people are coming from. Knowing this information will help to understand what kind of content resonates the most with your audience and drives them to action.
Liking and sharing are good, but it's the actual clicks from social media that truly matter.
The problem lies in tracking all the clicks that are attributable to your campaign.
Most native social-media analytics tools allow you to track the number of clicks on an individual posts or all the clicks on all posts for a specific time frame. However, if you're posting content for multiple campaigns at once, you'll have to manually separate each campaign to get true numbers.
A better way to track this is to use Google Analytics, a great, free tool, trusted by novices and experts alike. It can tell you the aggregate number of clicks for each webpage link and show you, most importantly where traffic is coming from.
Google Analytics social media traffic (Image Credit: Analytics Talk)
Tracking this data might even provide you with some insight into traffic sources you didn't know existed. For example, you may only be using Twitter and LinkedIn for your campaign, but with Google Analytics, you might notice a large number of your audience coming from Reddit. When you dig deeper, you find out that someone shared your content on a high traffic Reddit thread in your industry, and that's been driving high quality leads to your website.
This information could lead you to changing your focus and putting more energy into Reddit, gaining lots of quality prospects you wouldn't have known about without measuring your performance.
Are people doing what you want them to do on your website?
Once people see your campaign on social media and click through to your landing page, the next step is to convert them - that is, to perform your call-to-action.
The specific way a visitor converts is up to you - it could be subscribing to a mailing list, entering their data to get a special offer, or even making a purchase. The important thing is that they are captivated enough by the value you are providing to take the action you want them to take.
Enter Oktopost, one of the few tools with a dedicated campaign function so you can plug in all your links and see the exact conversion results you get from that particular campaign.
As shown in the screenshot below, Oktopost tracks the clicks your website receives as well as the number of conversions and how much these are worth to your business. This tool is perfect for B2B businesses that tend to have multiple campaigns and need to know what's working and what's not.
Image Credit: Oktopost
Do you have the support of the people your audience trusts?
Gone are the days of controlling the opinions and purchase choices of the market with a large advertising budget. In the age of social media, your brand is in the hands of influencers - these are the new, digital celebrities you need to connect with to win over your audience.
Why does reaching influencers matter?
Because influencers carry social proof.
Just like Hollywood celebrities of yesteryear, these people have large audiences who associate them with certain topics and trends. What's more, these celebrities have the attention of their audience at all times, and they have the power to be as authentic and candid as they want.
Their approval and endorsement of your product reaches thousands, sometimes millions, of your target market and the market acts on their recommendations.
Influence measurement tools such as Klout have never been more important to businesses wanting to make an impact online. These tools allow you to identify the top people in your niche and what they are talking about. The panel on the right in the Klout screenshot below shows the top experts in social media.
It's up to you to connect with influencers and build a positive relationship.
But be cautious - don't just pitch them your product at them through private messaging. Instead, explore their content, find out what they're passionate about and show them the value in your content itself. If they really like you, they'll be happy to mention you to their audience without request, and, if your budget allows, many accept sponsorships of their work in exchange for mentions.
Rest assured however, these people typically care about their image and reputation. This means they won't promote you just because you ask or throw them a ton of money. Do that and you could end up on the wrong side of the tracks.
5. Return on Investment (ROI)
Are you getting actual business results from your social media efforts?
If your ultimate goal on social media isn't to get a return on your investment - that is, make sales and grow your business - you're wasting your time.
While sales and business growth may not come right away or be the easiest thing to track, you can and should be determining how your efforts pay in actual dollars.
To truly determine ROI, you'll need to monitor all the steps in the process that lead to making a sale. This includes the metrics discussed above as well as any unique measurements put in place for the campaign, such as coupons or discount codes.
To monitor all these factors without continuously switching between various tools, you need a potent business dashboard. Cyfe allows you plug in the tools you already use and then delivers real-time graphs and statistics all on one screen. It helps to filter out the noise of multiple tools and bring your key performance indicators to the forefront.
The screenshot below shows you how to monitor a campaign from clicks to conversions to sales. Cyfe not only works with the major online business tools, it also allows you to plug in your own data, so you can track how much you are earning offline through coupons and discounts offered through your campaign. It's the ultimate way to track your ROI.
Image Credit: Cyfe
Why These Metrics Matter
The five metrics outlined in this article are the true indicators of your campaign's performance. Using just one won't provide the full picture, and you'll never truly know the true success or failure of your campaign.
Most importantly, these metrics allow you to improve your campaigns. If the results aren't what you were expecting, you can use these numbers to identify what area needs more work.
For example, if 100 people click through to your landing page offer from social media, but only 5 sign-up, this indicates a problem with your social media content or your landing page. Without tracking your clicks and conversions, you wouldn't know where to look.
For your next campaign, make sure you have a clear way to track these metrics and you'll see just how much better you can be at executing and improving your campaign performance.
Main image via Shutterstock