The debate on the marketing potential of social media platforms is over, and the results are in. Every brand should be on social media, and those who aren’t are still represented through the social activity of their employees, customers, and competitors. If you think you’ve got a real business reason to avoid social media, we encourage you to read this article, then visit Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and search for your brand. Today’s question isn’t whether brands should be on social platforms, but rather how those brands can effectively measure the ROI of their social activities.

How many followers you have doesn’t matter (as much as you think)

While followers are exciting when you’re just starting out, every brand sees diminishing returns on their follower base’s growth over time. This is easily demonstrated by the fact that Facebook now doesn’t put a brand’s updates in-feed for every follower, instead opting to only place that content in the feeds of those who regularly interact with the brand.

“Likes” don’t matter much, either. Multiple studies have shown that an individual “liking” a post on social media has little correlation with future purchase behavior.

With that low-hanging fruit out of the way, let’s look at how to effectively measure the impact that social media is having on your business growth. There are a lot of articles on the subject, some suggesting that you should measure as many as 61 items. Very few marketing channels have that many viable metrics, so we champion a more focused measurement model that uses 11 KPIs.

If we want to understand our results, we must first understand what it is we are doing.

Naturally, your social media activity is the first thing that should be quantified. Here are a few metrics to closely monitor:

  • Labor: How much time is your team spending on your social accounts? Easy if you’ve got a full-time social media expert. Requires some sort of log if it’s a shared responsibility or a fraction of someone’s workloads.
  • Activity type: If you post text updates, images, and blog posts, maintain a count of each.

With these two metrics, we know how much you’re spending on social media, and the raw output of that budget.

Audience trends are slightly more important than raw audience size

You want to be able to measure how your audience grows and changes over time. Remember that you can’t reach your entire audience at any given time, but also know that an upward trend in audience size generally indicates a future positive outcome. The metrics:

  • Audience size over time: Look for upward and downward trends. These will be tied to your social media spend, output, and results to understand how things fit together.

Getting closer to results: Engagement matters.

At this point, it’s time to start looking at how your audience interacts with you. Remember the categorized posts from earlier? They come into play here. But first, the engagement metrics:

  • Sharing: Having your content shared is free, instant amplification of your brand’s reach, and has been shown to correlate strongly with purchasing behavior.
  • Conversation: Replies, comments, etc. Basically, what got people talking, and how much did they talk about it (whatever “it” was)?
  • Audience Engagement: How many of your precious followers are actively engaging with your brand? Include comments and shares together here.

Measure all of this as a whole, then break it down into the categories you broke your posts down into. This will help you understand the types of activity that perform the best for you, and the ones that don’t contribute much to your results.

Rounding third

Now we’re looking at conversions. Few brands sell directly on social media- they drive traffic to their websites, where they then make the sale. You want to quantify the flow of individuals from your social media audience into your larger lead funnel. Here’s how:

  • Traffic: How many people are hitting your site from social media?
  • On-site conversions: Once they get to your site, how many social audience members dove deeper into your funnel through an an on-site CTA?
  • Leads: Most sites have a direct contact CTA on one or more pages. How many of your social converts engaged with you directly?

And bringing it home.

While the above metrics follow targets down through the funnel, The following metrics are all about real, measurable growth. This is where we start to understand how social media drives new client growth.

  • Conversions: How many of your social media leads turned into new clients in a given period?
  • Conversion value: What’s the expected LTV of those new clients?

Break this down by post type as well, and you’ll understand how many new clients your blog posts, videos, and photos brought you on social media, and how much money those new clients are worth to you.

There are dozens of other metrics you can chase, and others have written about them in great detail. The truth is that it’s easy to do too much. We strongly recommend a tight KPI focus, with most time spent on creating new leads and turning them into customers. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to sit down once a quarter or so and dive deeper into your social media metrics to fuel your future content and social strategy efforts. The metrics above are best used as part of a live dashboard that you can glance at for 2-3 minutes a day and examine a bit more thoroughly once a month. If you haven’t started your brand’s social media journey, or are a (gasp) social media dabbler, consider enlisting the folks at Bravr to give you an upward push. They’ve helped brands all over the world make sense (and dollars) of social media.