As with all digital activities, one of the great advantages that social media holds over more traditional communication channels is that it generates a wealth of data that can be used to evaluate performance. A wide array of social media analytics are available covering everything from how well social media content is performing, who it is reaching, to how much engagement it is generating.
All this information should be used to evaluate the performance of the organisation’s social media strategy and execution. However, many marketing and social media teams simply don’t report on this level detail, so the senior management team only have visibility of simplistic metrics related to number of Followers, Likes or Shares.
To successfully embed enterprise social media into an organisation, it needs to be reported on and evaluated with the same level of scrutiny as other marketing, communications or customer service activities. Relevant KPIs need to be established and then measured over time to demonstrate exactly how social media is helping to drive and deliver on the organisation’s specific objectives.
When it comes to informing management decisions, the right infrastructure must be in place to enable the internal team to see beyond the simplistic social media metrics. Social media teams must have tools in place to identify the high-level key performance trends of social media accounts, networks and users, as well as drill-down into each individual post that is published.
Moving beyond ‘Likes’
The most commonly reported social media metric is the total number of Likes or Followers achieved.
Graphs showing the changes in the number of followers are often used to indicate that progress continues to be made. However, tracking Likes or Followers alone does not give an accurate view of how the individual social media account or network is performing.
This is not to say that measuring the total number of likes is without value, just that it needs to be understood how it fits within the wider social media reporting, evaluation and management decision-making process.
It is important to understand some of the reasons why it is necessary to move beyond likes:
1) It does not accurately measure social media performance
Tracking the growth of Followers does not provide any insight into the amount of engagement social media posts are receiving. Often, a smaller number of highly engaged followers on social media is much more valuable to an organisation than a large number of followers who are disengaged with its content.
Similarly, any organisation using social media to deliver customer support cannot determine how well it is performing simply by looking at the number of Likes it receives on Facebook or Twitter.
2) Organic social media posts are reaching far less people
As Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn attempt to deliver a more personalised customer experience by only showing content that is most relevant to each customer and at the same time monetise their platforms, the ability to achieve organic reach of social media posts has been significantly decreased over the years.
Now, it is only sponsored / paid posts, or posts that receive a high level of engagement, that have the potential to increase reach and therefore increase the opportunity to increase the number of followers.
Mapping social media metrics to your objectives
When evaluating social media, it’s important to first determine the organisation’s objectives. It is then possible to decide upon the best metrics to track against those objectives to help measure overall social media performance.
Here are some examples of typical social media objectives and associated metrics that can be used to track performance:
Using social media to raise brand awareness
Organisations using social media to raise brand awareness and communicate with their target audience, should measure social media reach and impressions as key metrics. Impressions are the total number of times a post or piece of content was viewed, whilst reach is the number of individual users that viewed a post or piece of content.
In this example, the objective could be to generate a reach of 4 million per month on average in a six- month timeframe.
Using social media for sales
Organisations using social media to drive traffic, new leads or sales through their website should measure engagement via the number of clicks, shares or retweets.
In this example, the objective could be to achieve an average click through rate of 10%, or for 10% of all website traffic to come from social media.
Using social media for customer service
Organisations using social media to deliver customer service should measure how quickly and how effectively they are responding to the customer questions or complaints they receive. Metrics such as average time to first response and average response time will quantify their team’s speed, while measuring sentiment will determine whether there has been uplift in positive resolutions.
The percentage of complaints or customer service issues received as a percentage of the total number of inbound comments, is a good barometer to map over time.
This blog is an excerpt from The Complete Guide to Enterprise Social Media. Download a copy of the guide to learn more about evaluating your organisation's social media performance to ensure that it is delivering impact and results.