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The Most Important KPIs for Social Media

posted on 20-3-16-Mon 17:52


As a social media marketer, you are likely to have come across the term "social media KPIs" more times than you can count. It's also very possible, you've heard about the importance of these KPIs to your business. Early attempts at understanding the reason for the buzz about them may have ended in frustration as most articles on the topic fail to hit the nail squarely on the head.  

And so while we understand the temptation to abandon future attempts at understanding social media KPIs and all related topics, doing so would be a bad idea. Why? Social media KPIs are indispensable, and tracking them is imperative for a successful marketing campaign. This article, therefore, seeks to explain what they are, highlight the most important ones, and list the best tools to track them. 

KPIs: A Brief Refresher

KPIs (short for Key Performance Indicators) are measurable values that reveal just how effectively your organization is achieving its goals. They are essential because while setting goals for your organization, knowing how you fare in the journey to realize those goals is perhaps even more critical.

What Are Social Media KPIs?

By this time, you may have already come up with a working definition for the term social media KPIs for yourself. But if you haven't, there's nothing to worry about. Social media KPIs are objective values used by marketing teams to measure the success of social media marketing (SMM) campaigns. It is important you distinguish between KPIs, metrics and measures. As already explained, KPIs reveal the extent or level in which you reach your goals. Metrics are numeric measures that ascertain the level of a process. And measures refer to values that can be added. 

The most important Social Media KPIs

Now, in social media marketing, there are three main categories, under which fall the different social media KPIs you need to track. They are:

  • Outreach category or reach
  • Engagement category, and
  • Conversion 

So without further ado, let's get down to business.



The best way to explain reach as a  social media KPI  is simple. How many people see your posts across social media? How many people are you assured would see your media posts throughout your campaign? In social media marketing, the old (and incredibly cheesy saying) "Your network is your net worth" rings true. Reach indicates just how far your message is traveling – how many eyes get to see your campaign every day.  

For example, if you had a newspaper business, your first concern would be to ensure as many people as possible get  to see  your newspaper. Why? If no one sees it, no one's buying it. And if no one's buying, you're no longer running a business now, are you? It becomes a charity. 

How do you measure your reach? We've got that covered for you.

Social media KPIs for reach

The critical KPIs for reach are:

- Followers or friends: Not much needs to be said about this. The total number of friends, fans, and followers you have across all social media platforms during your campaign represents the number of people your message reaches  without  any other form of engagement. Tracking the number of followers you have helps you know how many people actively choose to hear your message. It is, therefore, an excellent place to start in knowing how well your campaign resonates with your target market.

- Audience growth rate: In social media marketing, your audience growth rate is just as important (and in some cases, more) as your audience count. As long as your audience keeps growing at a steady rate, you're bound to surpass those large accounts growing at far slower speeds. Here's a simple formula to track your growth rate.

Step 1: Identify the number of new followers for the month on a given social media platform, say Twitter.

Step 2: Divide that number by your total audience to get your growth rate

Step 3: Multiply your answer by 100

Step 4: Compare to previous months to see a trend

- Impressions: Impressions tell you how many times your post showed up in someone's timeline. This could be because they follow you directly or because someone they know has liked or shared your content. Note, though, that impressions don't necessarily mean someone actually looked at or noticed your post. It just means that they had a chance to. That being said, a higher number of impressions is always better than a lower one. 

- Traffic data: This indispensable KPI for reach is often overlooked or treated as an afterthought. By keeping track of it, it helps you know the percentage of traffic to your site that comes from social media. This is important because if you're investing time and effort into your social media campaigns, your traffic data should reflect so. With HubSpot, you can quickly ascertain which portion of your traffic data comes from social media. Simply visit the sources section of reports and see how much comes from social media. 

If you aren't satisfied with the results, you can always expand the reach of your posts using social publishing tools like GaggleAMP.

- Social share of voice: Another  social media KPI under reach is your social share of voice (SSOV). This shows you how many people mentioned your brand versus your competitors. This knowledge is pure gold in any marketing campaign as it helps you know how you fare against others in the same market.  

How do you track it? Follow these easy steps below.

Step 1: Choose a reporting period. 

Step 2: Measure all mentions of your brand (direct and indirect) for that period

Step 3: Repeat the step above for your competitors

Step 4: Add the two to get total mentions

Step 5: Divide your mentions by the total mentions

Step 6: Multiply by 100


twitter analytics

Although reach was listed first in this piece, engagement should receive more attention in your campaigns. While reach deals with your number of followers, engagement focuses on the actual amount of likes, shares, and comments that your social media content receives. This is important because a large following with low engagement means your content arouses little or no interest in your target audience.

Some of the social media KPIs for measuring engagement are:

- Clicks: Clicks are one of the easiest KPIs to measure. A high number of clicks means a large number of people have seen your content and gone ahead to open them. That being said, a few points need to be made about clicks. First is that high clicks with low shares usually mean your content is incapable of holding the attention of your audience beyond the first few lines or images. And the second is the fact that high click rates with bounce rates just as high could mean your landing pages are simply not appealing enough.

- Likes: This is one of the most popular KPIs and for a good reason. Likes are a natural way people show your content appeals to them. The more likes you have, the higher the chances of users who aren't your followers viewing your content. An even more precious secret is that more likes lead algorithms to rank your content higher in search results. It, therefore, goes without saying that you should focus the most on turning out content similar to the ones that have the most likes.

- Shares: While likes increase the chances of non-followers viewing your content, shares guarantee those chances 100%. Your content only gets shared when it resonates so deeply with your audience that they feel the need to show it to others. Shares are basically recommendations. And in this age of social proof, a recommendation from a single person may yield more returns than months of endless campaigning.

- Comments: At this stage, your audience moved passed basic (and almost reflex) actions like "liking" to actually communicating with you. Interesting content sparks conversations with followers and in time, creates a sense of loyalty among them. Note, however, that you can learn a lot from critical responses and not just the glowing commendations.

- Mentions and tags: Do you know what's better than having people comment on your posts? Having them mention you in discussions you had no idea were taking place. Mentions are, for this reason, one of the most important social media KPIs you must track because they let you know just how relevant you are in your chosen niche. 

- Profile Visits: While this isn't as popular as those mentioned above, it is still a useful social media KPI to keep an eye on. In fact, since most social media platforms are used as search engines for brands today, you can be sure to have a lot of profile visits from prospective customers. Such visits indicate interest in your organization from prospects outside your usual followers.



You have a large following and an equally high rate of engagement. Both are important for any campaign, but yet, they simply are not enough. This is where conversions come in. Conversion deals with the percentage of your audience whom you actually "convert" into paying customers. Two main social media KPIs fall under this heading. They are:

  • Leads Generation: Audience and engagement are good, but you need more than these to get your return on investment. Beyond the large follower count, astronomic impressions, endless likes, shares, and glowing comments, how many among these are genuinely interested in making a purchase? If you aren't generating enough leads, it simply means that while your content may be engaging, your audience still isn't compelled to make purchases from you. This could be because you mainly attract social media trolls, or your content isn't persuasive enough. It is, therefore, essential to monitor leads to know if your campaign is on the right track and effect improvements where needed. 
  • Sales: Finally, the goal of every campaign – sales. If you aren't making sales or if you aren't getting any new customers, none of the other metrics above really matter. If you are making constant investments in time, money, and effort to post content for your target audience, you need to track if these efforts are bringing the desired results. This is the most accurate test of your success in social media marketing. If during your campaign, you succeeded in attracting the right people with genuinely engaging content, they'll be interested in buying your product. Your only task after would be to ensure you retain them as customers as opposed to one-time purchasers. 

It is crucial you pay attention to the particular social media platforms bringing in the sales. This helps you know where best to focus your efforts and where modifications in your strategy are needed.

Tracking Your Social Media KPIs: Tools of the Trade

At this point, you understand what social media KPIs are and their importance to your marketing strategy. Your next task as a marketer is to know the right tools to track and measure these Key Performance Indicators. Now, like KPIs, a ton of tools exist. The best ones however are:

1) Hootsuite   

If you manage updates for your business' social media platforms, you're likely to have heard of Hootsuite. Launched in 2008, Hootsuite is a popular, freemium, social media monitoring tool, and it is one of the most comprehensive out there. It tracks activities across different social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, Instagram, Mailchimp, and WordPress. And you can also manage social media accounts by scheduling posts across multiple platforms. This frees up time for other productive activities as you don't have to stay online to manage your accounts actively.

In addition, it allows you to delegate tasks if more than one person is handling your social media account. Thus, if you receive 30 comments/mentions in a day, you can delegate each one to specific members of your team. These delegations would be viewed by the respective team members when they log in and prevent multiple responses to the same comment. 

It also has a messaging feature that allows team members to send messages to each other. This is particularly useful if you have staff who work from remote locations. It must be said, however, that having multiple team members may be expensive if you're running on a small budget.

2) Twitter Analytics

As one of the most loved social media platforms today, Twitter is a hotbed of commercial activity. With a Twitter account and basic knowledge of e-commerce, you're already set to join the millions who do business on the app. Getting a bigger slice of the pie, however, would mean you need a deeper understanding of the app than the average user. This is where Twitter analytics comes in. 

What is Twitter Analytics? 

Twitter analytics is a tool that provides details on your tweets, retweets, replies, favorites, mentions, engagements, clicks, etc. In addition to monitoring your activities on Twitter, Twitter Analytics also tracks your followers and those who interact with your tweets. By analyzing and curating this data, Twitter analytics provides invaluable information on just how well your account is performing with respect to any of your chosen KPIs.

How to access Twitter Analytics?

Unlike other tools, you need no special app or site to make use of the Twitter Analytics tool as you can access it straight from your account dashboard. Simply log into your Twitter account, click on your profile image and select "Analytics" from the drop-down menu. There, you will see a range of metrics including Twitter impressions (which show the number of times your tweet was viewed by people), and your engagement rate (which is the total number of engagements divided by impressions over the same period).

It also shows along with your 28-day summary, your followers with the largest number of followers, and your mentions with the highest impressions.

3) Keyhole    

Keyhole is a hashtag analytics tool which, according to its CEO, is the "world's number one". Although we may not share the CEO's sentiments, that should in no way stop you from taking advantage of its many features. Keyhole boasts three main features, which make it one of the best tools for marketers. They are hashtag and keyword analytics, social media account analytics, and influencer management. 

This means it helps you monitor your Twitter and Instagram accounts by allowing you to look at keywords, hashtags, URLs, and usernames. 

Furthermore, you can observe data in real-time and historical information, while viewing heat maps that show you activity levels in different parts of the world. And as a bonus, it also offers tracking for forums and blogs. These features are most especially useful if you have any sort of interest in SEO and organic growth.

As a final word on Keyhole, it is vital to note that prices change with the number of trackers. This makes it a bit more expensive than other solutions and not recommended when running on a small budget as its high-end features are only included in the most expensive plan. This is, however, balanced by the fact that it comes with a free trial. It is also easy to use as it boasts one of the more aesthetically pleasing interfaces out there - an easily navigable dashboard and a range of channel-tracking options. 

4) AgoraPulse

While most tools cover specific aspects of social media marketing, Agorapulse, dubbed the 'rising star' of SMM, covers everything you would need for marketing, monitoring, and management on social media. With its current focus on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Instagram, it helps small to medium scale enterprises running on low budgets punch above their weight when it comes to marketing their products or services.

How does it work? 

Basically, Agorapulse enables you to put all social networks in one interface and manage everything from there. All comments, tweets, and messages go to your inbox, thus, ensuring you never miss anything important. Apart from the unified inbox, it comes with custom publishing options, advanced analytics, and automation features that allow you to optimize your operations. 

It also comes with tools to assemble and analyze essential statistics that help you gain quality insight to create and execute effective social media campaigns.

Apart from the major tools listed above, there are also a couple you could make use of. They are:

5) Digimind

This is a tool which tracks audience sentiment. It enables you to see if the perception of a specific keyword is negative, neutral, or positive. It also shows you how your audience perceives your brand in relation to your competition.

6) Buzzlogix

As the name implies, this tool enables you to "catch the buzz" about your products. With it, you know what the public is saying about you or your competitors. This is very useful if you have no stable products but deal with trending products instead. It also helps you manage interactions with your audience by having a feature for replies from the dashboard.

7) Buffer

With Buffer, you can schedule content you want to be posted throughout the day and have them sent through your preferred accounts. It also enables you to manage Facebook fan pages and groups, LinkedIn profiles and company pages, Twitter profiles, Pinterest accounts, and Google+.

8) Zoho Social

Like others before it, this tool helps you schedule unlimited posts across your social networks. You can also measure performance and track conversations from one dashboard. Zoho Social helps you track relevant social conversations so that you can attend to what matters. In addition, you can track revenue generated through social media marketing.

In conclusion

So there you have it, the social media Key Peformance Indicators and tools you need for a successful campaign. And yes, it may seem a bit too much to digest at once, but take your time. Tracking KPIs to increase conversions from your social media accounts requires a lot of hard work across board. No one becomes a marketing expert overnight. But if you focus on social media KPIs most relevant to you and your audience, you're most likely to succeed in the long run.