Social media KPIs – What matters?

Social media KPIs – What matters?

Social media KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), just how do you know when your social media is a hit or a flop? How do you figure out what to fix? Which channel to invest your time in?

As with everything in business, and in life in general, what matters all depends on what your goal is and the reason why you’re doing something in the first place. In regards to social media, your goal could be a number of things.


5 possible goals for social media:

  1. Build awareness
  2. Build loyalty
  3. Create a community
  4. Increase Sales
  5. Build relationships

1. Build awareness

You want the entire world to know about your product – how do you go about making sure that happens? One way is to share helpful information on social. If you can make your content relevant and funny – bonus points.

Awareness doesn’t have to mean the whole world though: What if there’s a pundit in your space, say in Fintech and you wanted to catch their attention? Perhaps there’s a journalist that you would love to cover your company? Getting their attention by engaging with them online is a great way to warm up a cold call. Don’t just follow them on Twitter, but comment on posts, retweet and engage in a pleasant, conversational way.

2. Build loyalty

Offering something special, that is relevant to your product or service (in other words, not an iPad) to your followers at random times is a great way to get people to follow and engage. It’s important that the reward be unexpected, to build intrigue and ongoing interest.

Think about the brands, companies, and services you are loyal to. Why are you loyal to them? Much of the time it has to do with trust. I am more likely to trust someone if they own up when they have done something wrong, have apologized, and I can see the difference in the ongoing behavior. If someone apologizes with a shallow apology – all trust is lost.

Ideally you are never in a situation where you have to ask for forgiveness. Be there, be steady and reliable. Answering back to compliments and complaints. Being forthright and quick with answers – do all of that and you’ll slowly build loyalty.

Also – don’t just say you know something, show it. Articles that teach (like this one) are a great way to help your client base, and show that you know what you’re talking about. People respect knowledge and will trust you more when you share yours.

3. Create a community

People follow people, not brands. Your community needs to be human to pull others in. This means legal can’t be writing your copy if you want people to engage with you. It means you can be extremely funny, or kind, or goofy – but you must be something. People don’t follow boring.

What is your company, brand, or service passionate about? What do you love and hate? Where are you communicating that? What do you value? A community brings together like minds. If you’re not sharing what you think, you can’t really pull people in who think like you or love what you love.

Community is typically built on some way for people to get together, be it online or off. Mobile Monday is a community interested in everything mobile that would have in-person meet ups monthly on Mondays. Way back in the day I was on #IRC and I frequented #REM, #Israel, #DepecheMode. I know I’m aging myself here, but that was an active community of people who cared. Community takes time. It’s slow to build and needs to be actively nurtured, and it creates strong network effects once in place.

4. Increase sales

If you have a consumer product, you can increase sales through social through engagement, showing off your product, use cases, celebrity and influencer campaigns (depending on the product of course) and growing your overall numbers.

One thing you shouldn’t do if you’re a consumer brand is have fake reviews. I checked out a brand today on Facebook and read the reviews – all of the real reviews were awful and the good reviews were obviously fake. People can see the profiles of the people leaving the reviews. If you treat your customer like they are stupid – they won’t stay your customer for long.

For business to business sales, especially enterprise sales, social is more for relationship building, providing helpful information and building yourself up as a thought leader.

5. Build relationships

In every industry there are journalists, analysts, and pundits that others listen to. Almost all of these people have some sort of presence on social media. Getting to know them online is a great way to turn a cold pitch email into a warm one. Think about it, are you more likely to read an email from someone you’ve never met, or someone you’ve interacted with so many times online you’re not sure if you’ve met them in person or not?


What channels?

Your perspective depends on where your customer lives online. If your product is visual in any way, then Instagram and Pinterest are probably a high priority. If you have a SaaS product that sells to marketing departments inside enterprise then LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook might be your focus.

Why Facebook when it has a 0% organic reach? It’s checking an expected box for people when researching your company. Not everyone checks that, but enough do that it should be part of your social media considerations.

Whatever channel you decide to put time into, make sure the people you are targeting are there and active on the platform.


What about those KPIs?

Now that you know your goals, how do you measure them?

Followers / following

Yes, this can be a vanity metric – but if the growth has been organic and the audience is active then this is a great way to show the interest and intent of your audience.


If people aren’t seeing your posts, your posts don’t exist.


This is the true test of community. If people are responding to your posts, then you know the posts are being seen and people like (or dislike) your content. It’s a goldmine of information for all brands and companies. You can also research the people engaging and see if you’re hitting the right target market with your message.

Click through rate

If you don’t measure it, you cannot improve it. By using Google URL Builder or Bitly to track all URLs posted on your social you can see what people are clicking on. If you want to track your buyer’s journey it’s good to see if they are reading your social and then going to your website and having a look around. Yes you can see general numbers by Similar Web – but you can see exactly what the person is doing when you combine the Google URL Builder with Google Analytics.

Sentiment analysis

Sentiment shows just how people feel about your brand online. To track this you need a social media listening tool, like Brand24 or Sysomos. This is more for brands and enterprises with a lot of followers and traffic than a small startup that has just gotten started. Whoever is handling your sentiment tracking must have someone who is reviewing each post that is listed, because while these tools are good – they aren’t quite there yet and the AI can’t always tell if someone is being sarcastic or not.


What to do if something isn’t working

Figure out why.

  1. Is it the channel: i.e. your customers don’t hang out there online?
  2. Is it the message: are you saying things in a way that no one finds interesting?
  3. Are you using the channel correctly? Look at the companies who are getting the most from that channel and what can you learn from them?
  4. Are your expectations unrealistic? In the very beginning things can be slow, painfully slow – until they suddenly aren’t. It can take awhile to mix the right message with the right content with the right style and the right audience.

The point is to keep testing until you get it right.

Thank you to rawpixel for the use of the header image.

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