I will be the first to admit that I’m tired of reading about social media trends. Perhaps I have social media guru fatigue, but every time I read about a new theory of social business or seven quick steps to employee social engagement, my eyes get the faintest glaze.  Even if I enjoy social media blunders as much as the next terrified social media manager, I need more substance in my “X things about social media” posts than those provided in your typical LinkedIn Publisher article.

Among all of this sometimes laughable social media advice, I often forget about the metrics that matter. And I know I’m not alone, since over 60% of marketers still have trouble measuring social ROI. Even if social is now the best way to engage with customers, as Gartner has shown, we’ve lost sight of some of the most important social media metrics in an overload of marketing data. So, to sort out this mess, here are a few metrics that may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

1. Brand Health/Brand Love

I will begin to describe this metric with a caveat: awareness metrics are often highly overvalued by social media managers, who can sometimes convince digital managers and CMOs that a generalized sense of awareness is more important than driving social conversions. However, brand health (sometimes called brand love) is a good measure of something marketers should be keenly attuned to–how your customers are talking about your brand.

Or, as the Altimeter Group puts it, “Brand health — a measure of how people feel about, talk about, and act toward your brand — is of primary concern for executives and the most common use case for social data.”

2. Social Media Engagements

Unfortunately, when talking about social media metrics, I knew I’d eventually need to bring out the dreaded E word–engagement. Instead of just counting or evaluating engagements on a channel, social media data nerds need to begin to tie social engagements to other actions–conversions, cost, downloads, or any other business goal.

With every ad campaign that launches on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, the cost per click goes up. That’s why smart marketers need to start paying for equally-valuable engagement actions. CMSWire had it right when they said, “Social media offers brands an opportunity to have valuable interactions with consumers, without a direct link to a conversion. A focus on engagement is vital to your social media initiatives.” Just remember that, as valuable as some in-network engagements can be, you don’t want the cost per engagement to creep, or the number of engagements per conversion to fall. Keep an eye on both, and engagements like retweets or repins will become a valuable part of your social path to purchase.

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3. Social Content Half-Life

Much like a radioactive element, your social content has a half-life. In order to create the perfect blogs, content campaigns, and web experiences to share on social, you need to know how your content performs over time. Make sure that your measurement of content-specific subsets of your metrics (like shares and click-throughs) extend over at least a one-month period, so you can see when your content performance peaks, and when it…dies. That way you can figure out the perfect cadence of new content for your audience, without worrying that it will wither on the vine.

“You are spending time and money creating great content. But do you know how long that piece continues to reap rewards?”

-Search Engine Journal

4. Parts of a Conversion

This theory of conversion may be almost four years old, but it holds true to today’s social conversions. In 2011, Avinash Kaushik defined the “four parts” of a conversion, which are conversion, amplification, applause, and economic value. Each of these have rates that are defined below:

  • Conversation Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) per Post
  • Amplification = # of Shares/Retweets/Reblogs per Post
  • Applause Rate = # of Likes/Favorites/+1s/Upvotes per Post
  • Economic Value = Short-Term Value + Long Term Revenue + Ad Cost Savings

Depending on your ability to perform social attribution, “economic value” may be a guiding principle, rather than an actionable metric. Nonetheless, looking at each of these per channel will also help you to determine which social networks are your strongest, and which need some love.

5. Social Shares from Your Website

Too often, marketers focus on the website referral traffic from their social media accounts, without appreciating the number of shares from their websitee content to variouchannels. If you have share buttons on your site, you need to remember to pull the metrics from these outlets for content distribution. Then you can determine KPIs for outbound social sharing, and optimize both your content and the sharing options themselves.

6. Social Media Customer Service Metrics

Social response time has long been one of the most important metrics to customer service and social care teams. But does your team ever look beyond the volume of social responses to discover the content of these inquiries? Zendesk proposes the following questions to start the social care metrics discussion:

  • How many comments appear to be written in moments of frustration, perhaps after having a poor customer experience in person or online?
  • How many are technical or account-specific questions?
  • How many comments provide feedback, positive or negative?
  • How many questions can be answered using links to existing help content?
  • How many brand mentions require, or would benefit from, a response?

It is important to assess the types of inquiries your brand is receiving and to place the answers to these questions readily available on your website or social account. As you begin to create a better UX for your customers, you should expect these inquiries to decrease. In the long run, creating a Social Media Customer Service plan is more cost-effective than having a bloated customer service team.

7. Targeting Across Channels

We all know the importance of targeting paid campaigns. Without targeting paid click-through rates can be abysmal, and your target audience may never even see your ad. But sometimes organizations forget the targeting options for their owned (free) social media. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and more allow you to target your post to a certain segment, either by geography, seniority, or gender. This can be a very useful tool when trying to cut through the noise, or post different messages to different customer types.

Remember: only 59% of ad impressions reach their intended audience. Choose your audience wisely.

Although these are all very useful metrics, it’s important to know what channels you’re using and what business goals you’re trying to accomplish before you begin the social media KPI discussion. Don’t know how to get started? Take our social analytics quiz to get advice tailored to your needs.

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