A young woman sits at a table in a white-walled workshop and works on an open laptop. The woman is smiling; she has dark hair pulled into a ponytail and she wears an olive green T-shirt and a pink-and-white gingham headband. On the table around the laptop are balls of thread, stacks of post-it notes, rolls of multicolored tape, and several writing utensils in a wooden pencil holder. In the background are a rack holding a few pieces of clothing on hangers and several shelves filled with paper bags. A string of white lights winds up on of the shelves and onto the dress rack.
If your goal is to measure engagement, or how many people are interacting with your social media content, you should look at your accounts' engagement and amplification rates. — Getty Images/Halfpoint Images

Social media metrics provide data points demonstrating whether your strategy is working—or needs to be tweaked. The metrics that matter will vary from company to company, depending on your growth stage, sales funnel, industry, and goals. Not every social media metric will be relevant to your brand. Here’s how to determine which data points to watch, and what they can tell you about your social media effectiveness.

Start with your customer journey

The customer journey encapsulates the steps prospective customers must take before they make a purchase. Understanding the interactions that a person must have with your company before they’re ready to become a customer can help you understand how social media fits into that experience.

“Identifying the different interactions customers have with your brand before making a purchase can help you create more effective marketing campaigns,” wrote MailChimp.

The customer journey varies according to different products and services. Buying an expensive purchase, such as a new car, will likely take more time and research than buying a new beach bag. Accordingly, you may be able to encourage a customer to buy a beach bag with one social media post, but it’s unlikely you’ll sell a car with just a tweet.

[Read more: What Social Media Metrics Really Matter to Your Business?]

Set a goal

With your customer journey and sales funnel in mind, you can begin to set a realistic goal for your social media strategy. “Social media can serve a variety of purposes, from broadcasting news and information, to answering customer questions and engaging with a community,” wrote marketing expert Neil Patel. “What is your company trying to accomplish?”

You may have specific campaign-focused goals as well as ongoing metrics that show how your channels perform over time. Ongoing analytics can show you how your brand reputation is performing over time; campaign-focused analytics indicate the performance of a specific marketing effort. Both goals are important for measuring the success of your business.

Identifying the different interactions customers have with your brand before making a purchase can help you create more effective marketing campaigns.


Track the right analytics

Once you have your goal in mind, you can begin tracking the right metrics to show progress toward that outcome. Here are a few examples of social media goals and their associated metrics.

Goal: Awareness, or how many people see your content and are able to recognize your brand.

  • Reach: The number of people who see your content. Most platforms will show you the reach of individual posts in their native analytics dashboard.
  • Impressions: The number of times people saw your content. If your impressions are higher than your reach, it indicates that people are coming back to see your post multiple times. This metric is also found in your analytics dashboard.

Goal: Engagement, or how many people not only see your content, but also interact with it.

  • Engagement rate: The number of engagements (likes, comments, and shares) your content gets as a percentage of your audience. To calculate engagement rate, use the formula total engagement ÷ total followers x 100.
  • Amplification rate: The ratio of shares per post to the number of overall followers. As defined by Avinash Kaushik, author and digital marketing expert at Google, this metric tells you “the rate at which your followers take your content and share it through their networks.”

Goal: Return on investment, or how your social media strategy impacts your sales.

  • Click-through rate: How often people click a link in your post or bio to access additional content. This metric tells you how many people saw your post and wanted to know more from your brand. The click-through rate is calculated as clicks ÷ impressions.
  • Conversion rate: The number of people who took action after seeing your social media post. For instance, how many people downloaded an e-book after seeing an Instagram post? Conversion rate is calculated as total number of conversions ÷ total number of clicks.

These are just a few metrics to consider as you design your social media strategy. Make sure your metrics are tailored to your specific goal—whether that’s improving customer service, selling more products, or building brand loyalty.

[Read more: The Best Metrics for Measuring Digital Marketing Success]

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