How do you measure success? What methodology or approach do you use to determine whether you’ve achieved something of merit? How do you know you’ve attained a goal that yields some form of ROI? Is it something that makes you look good (outwardly or superficially) or something that actually generates revenue? What are the metrics that matter to your business?

To begin with, that’s a whole lot of questions packed into one paragraph. However, hopefully, it’s got you thinking about how you approach and measure success as a business in your day-to-day operations. 

By and large, most businesses will set monthly, quarterly, and yearly KPIs/targets/goals. Some may even insist on weekly targets, depending on the nature of the business. Nevertheless, goal-setting is intrinsic to measuring and determining how successful your business is. By the same token, establishing the metrics that matter most will help you identify which goals are most meaningful and achievable.

Then again, it’s easy to be seduced by meaningless metrics that give you the semblance of success, without actually impacting your bottom line.

Let’s explore this in the context of social media marketing.

Sexy Metrics

Wallpaper can make a room look really pristine, stylish, even elegant. But it can also hide a whole load of horrors beneath its charming veneer. Cracks, crumbling plaster, holes, shoddy workmanship, for example, are easily concealed behind relatively inexpensive, decent-looking wallpaper. In other words, unless you peeled back the paper, you’d have no idea what was going on underneath it. And then, you might find yourself in the unenviable position of having to spend a lot of money to put things right again. All because, superficially, everything looked good.

The same can be said of social media metrics. Sexy metrics (more commonly referred to as vanity metrics) are the ones that look good from afar, but upon closer inspection are far from good. Certainly, on the surface, they give the appearance of success, but once you dig a little deeper, they yield nothing of interest or use to you or your business.

Many businesses believe that vanity metrics such as follower count and likes are the metrics that matter the most because they’re the ones that everyone sees. However, as satisfying as it may be to have thousands of followers, does it really impact your bottom line? Are you getting thousands of customers as a result?

Consequently, the metrics that matter are a lot less sexy. But they tend to play a much more effective role in your social media marketing.

Metrics That Don’t Matter, Do Matter (Slightly)

So, there’s a bit of a Catch-22 here. It’s important to realise, that although follower count and likes aren’t exactly going to yield usable data for you to analyse and base your social media marketing strategy upon, they are (slightly) important. 

In general, these particular metrics don’t really generate social media ROI. However, without an audience, you’re not going to get any ROI at all. You need to have followers in order to get your message/content/brand out there. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that follower count is not one of the metrics that matter. Because follower numbers don’t demonstrate how social media is helping your business achieve its goals. And if these metrics aren’t helping you meet your overall objectives, you need to identify the metrics that will.

What you really want are metrics that offer context for future marketing decisions, not just ones that make for positive reports.

The Metrics That Matter the Most

Generally speaking, the metrics that matter the most are the ones that either directly impact your bottom line (conversions) or give you a better idea of your performance on social media (engagement).

And the best way to set your social media objectives is to align them with your business goals. These could be, for instance, brand awareness, conversions, or customer satisfaction.

Knowing what your business is trying to achieve gives you a platform upon which to target those specific social media metrics that matter most in helping you attain those goals.

For example, Engagement Rate (comments and replies) gives you an idea of how well a post (or type of post) is performing. However, it also gives you customer insight. What are your followers saying in response to your post? How are they reacting? And, more importantly, how are you responding to their comments?

Social media marketing is about maintaining an ongoing conversation with your audience. That involves listening and responding. This is, therefore, a good way to track and measure customer satisfaction (for example, number of positive vs negative comments or engagements).

Likewise, you can measure brand awareness through the number of mentions your brand gets on social media. Or conversions by the number of link-clicks you get through to your website from a particular social media campaign, tracking their behaviour on your site and the number of leads/sales generated as a result.

Ultimately, the metrics that matter the most are the ones that give you something to work with (and improve), not just something to smile at.

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Gareth Alvarez
Gareth Alvarez

Gareth, Social INK’s Head of Content (sometimes playfully referred to as ‘spellcheck’), just adores words. He’s written copy for ads, websites, and blogged extensively. Content marketing is his bag. He loves getting creative with his writing.