While determining a return-on-investment (ROI) on social media efforts still remains a very tricky subject for most companies (with some companies such as Buffer deciding to not measure ROI at all), it is a poor marketer who does anything without any sort of measurement. Your social media report need to contain actionable insights that move your brand forward.
At the very least, you would need to set objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) as guideposts for your efforts.
It’s important that you do set key performance indicators for your social media efforts. Everything has to be tied back to business goals, and as a professional, you always need to show how your efforts help the brand.
First Step: Determine Your Business Objectives
You’re a smart marketing leader. You know that there always has to be a reason behind any marketing activity you embark on (and it’s not just because everyone else is doing it). No marketing channel can be excused from being useful and actionable.
It’s the same with social media campaigns. You need to think through exactly what kind of impact you want to achieve before you start. These objectives should have a business outcome and you need to shy away from vanity metrics.
Common objectives for social media campaigns include:
- Increase Brand Awareness
- Engage with Customer Base on Social Channels
- Generate Leads for Trial / Sales Follow Up
- Increase Revenue
- Reduce Churn Rate / Customer Retention
Next, we’ll look at the various types of KPIs that you can use to help measure your progress towards these objectives.
Second Step: Determine KPIs
Once you’ve determined the business results you want to achieve from social media marketing, you need to start thinking about the types of activities or key results areas that will help you reach those goals. While objectives may be high level and not quantifiable, you must be able to measure the key results or key performance indicators.
We’ve broken down some common KPIs based on different types of objectives.
Typical Objectives: To Establish Basic Brand Presence on Social Media
If your company is just getting your feet wet with social media, then at the very least you should be tracking your activity on social channels. This simply refers to your team’s or social media agency’s output.
Key Results / KPIs:
Depending on your goals, you might want to measure how many Facebook posts you published within the time period, how much content you created, what’s the post-type mix, how many messages you responded to and so on.
This is a very basic level of measurement, but for some companies, just getting their management to approve setting up a Facebook page is a big win. It’s important that you move on to the other KPIs here once they start getting more comfortable with social media in general.
Remember, every marketing activity should ideally show how it is impacting the business. It’s hard to show your true value if there are only Activity KPIs in your monthly social media report.
Social KPIs for Brand Awareness Goals
Typical Objectives: To Increase Brand Visibility on Social Channels
Social media is arguably one of the most cost-effective ways to generate awareness for your brands. We’ve found social media to be most effective as a top-of-funnel (TOFU) marketing activity to start the relationship while other marketing tactics such as email or traditional marketing to be better at turning fans into customers.
Key Results / KPIs:
- Total Impressions – Total impressions refer to the number of people who had the opportunity to see or engage with your brand’s content. This is your total reach, similar to what you would find in press ad rate cards.
- Fanbase – This refers to your raw audience, the people who have actively given you permission to speak to them. The more people you have, the more likely you will be able to convert them into customers or brand advocates. While we still measure and report the number of fans that a page has, you should never get sucked into the idea that more fans alone dictate success.
- Audience Growth Rate – The audience growth rate measures how quickly you are growing your audience. You measure this by dividing new followers by total current followers.
- Website Visits – For some brands (especially B2B companies), their website is still their main marketing hub i.e. it’s where all the selling is done. If you’re in a similar situation, then you’d want to know how many website visits were generated from social media channels. You can use a tool such as Google Analytics to determine this.
Social KPIs for Engagement Goals
Typical Objectives: To Build Customer Affinity & Engagement
One of social media’s greatest allure is its ability to help foster deep, personal relationships between a brand and its fanbase. It’s one thing to be able to reach your target audience, but a totally different matter to get them engaged. Use the social media KPIs below to find out if you’re going in the right direction.
Key Results / KPIs:
- Engaged Users – This Facebook metric measures the number of people who engaged with your page in any way, including clicks or story generated.
- Applause Rate – This is the number of virtual ‘applause’ you get from your fans and include Facebook Likes, Pinterest Repins or Twitter Retweets.
- Amplification Rate – The average number of shares / retweets / repins of each post. If you’re on multiple social channels, you should measure your amplification rate separately.
Social KPIs for Lead Generation & Revenue Goals
Typical Objectives: Generate Leads from Social Media
While you shouldn’t be too promotional all the time, once in a while, you may want to use social media as a direct response channel. This means that you want your fanbase to execute a conversion event such as sign up for an event, purchase from your online store or download an eBook.
Key Results / KPIs:
- Conversion Rate from Social – This measures the number of conversions from social media channels. What your business defines as a ‘conversion’ might vary. While e-commerce players can measure conversions in terms of actual sales, other companies may define newsletter sign-ups, content downloads or form enquiries as conversion goals. This is trickier than it sounds though but more on that some other time.
- Cost per Conversion – How much does each conversion cost? You can measure this separately across the various social channels you’re on to determine which channel converts most cost effectively.
- Social Sales Enquiries – This refers to the number of purchasing or product enquiries you are receiving directly from your social channels such as private messages on Facebook.
Social KPIs for Reducing Churn Rate or Customer Retention Goals
Typical Objectives: To Provide Excellent Customer Service on Social Channels
A study by Dimensional Research shows that 50% of consumers are likely to share a bad customer service experience on social media. Another study showed that 67% of respondents have used social media for customer service. If your brand isn’t on social media, you lose out on a key opportunity to provide better customer service to your customers. It’s a great way to increase customer delight and spread your brand values as this famous case study by Morton’s Steakhouse can show you.
Key Results / KPIs:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) – The NPS is one of the most popular ways to measure customer advocacy. This usually involves a quick survey that you can promote on your various social channels.
- Customer Testimonials – The number of customer testimonials that you have gathered from your social channels.
- Reviews / Ratings – The number of positive or negative reviews that you have achieved per period.
Third Step: Establish Context & Set Targets
Now that you’ve determined which would be the best KPIs to use to measure how well you’re doing in reaching your objectives, you now have to place a quantifiable target or goal against them.
As you’re well-aware, goals should be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Here are some examples:
- Increase Facebook Fans by 10% month-on-month
- Generate 1,000 Leads from Facebook in Q3
If it’s your first time executing social media campaigns, you’re going to have some problems making sure that your goals are achievable. That’s because you’re not entirely sure what results you can get from social media. The expectations from management might not be realistic as well (you’ll inevitably hear someone who’ll ask “Can’t we just go viral?” in a management meeting).
It’s not their fault; it’s up to us to effectively set the expectations given a certain level of investment.
So how do you ensure that your goals are realistic and achievable?
If you have a set budget, one of the ways we have found to be effective is competitive benchmarking. Look at what your competitors are doing, estimate their social media investment and examine the results they are getting. Once you have that, you can better gauge what you can expect from your own investment.
The investment itself is of course not the main determinant of social media success. Outsmart, don’t outspend. There are other, perhaps better, ways to set targets but we won’t go into that now.
With these steps, we hope that you will be able to set the proper key performance indicators for your social media report. Let us know in the comments below if we missed anything out.