Social Media KPIs Explained

Measuring your social success is as important as any other marketing initiative – you must know what works to determine how much to put towards this marketing initiative and investment; from people power to ad budget, you want to ensure you are striking where you need to with the proper amount of force.  And with over 3.6 billion users convening on social media, it’s not a place you can ignore or just show up haphazardly.  This is a marketing force to be reckoned with.

In order to get metrics data on your social media, you must have your accounts using business profiles – we all found out the hard way in 2006.  While fun to absorb how many people think about you – the real data was designed for businesses to identify success and opportunities.  And while the metrics provided map to traditional analytics in most cases, you will have some that are new and need interpretation for the value for your brand.  We will explain as we get to the “new” type of measurements.

Let’s start with defining your KPIs (key performance indicators) so we can measure what’s worth measuring.  Start by identifying what is important to your business success.

Let’s start with some foundational definitions for measurement that will help us navigate this guide.  You will have metrics that reference totals and uniques.  Total means the number of times your brand was seen or consumed by anyone; this includes duplicate consumptions.  The same person may consume the same account, page, post, or story multiple times and be counted each time.  This is often associated with impressions.  To see the number of actual people capable of buying your product or service, you will want to look at unique numbers which de-duplicates the number of times each person has been exposed to your brand over the measurement period.  A fantastic example of this is that while you go to Starbucks five times a week, you are still the only one customer that visited or was exposed five times.

Now let’s jump into the KPIs that will help you leverage data to reproduce miracles and diminish the doozies.


A very popular metric we find at the top of the funnel is reach – how many people is our message reaching?  How many people have seen our brand or in the traditional media sense, how many individuals were exposed to our brand?  Exposure aids in many marketing metrics that lead towards conversion.  This is our largest number in our metrics as it’s the top of the funnel where awareness starts.  How many people do we reach on our social media accounts?   You may find that you reach more people on certain platforms; you may also find that even when you find more people on certain platforms that these are not the people you want and you will start to look at qualified reach… we will cover later.

There are also different types of reach – you have account reach, post reach, and story reach.  You also have reach on each platform but you cannot simply add these together as there are more likely a lot of duplication across platforms for reach.  For this reason, you want to present your data or interpret it on a platform-by-platform basis.  Total reach on your account shows your full audience that has seen your brand.  You may calculate your unique or distinct reach by dividing the impressions by accounts. This will show you on average how many people are consuming your post more frequently.  These same numbers are available for both organic and paid reach.

Post reach is a different animal in itself as it provides context to your audience.  This specific post has specific content and reached a specific group.  While parts of the algorithm will always remain a mystery, you can set your own tests to try and identify why certain posts get more reach. It’s widely accepted that the more engagement a post gets will get more reach by the popular vote alone; this is also proven true by the fact that if you engage with a post, your network will see that engagement, furthering the exposure of that specific post.  And when a network user sees your post, they are more likely to also engage as there is the implied word-of-mouth marketing that someone I know trusts this post.  Thus, the magic of social media.

Website Metrics via Google Analytics

Hurrying down the funnel, the next important metric would be how many social accounts did you actually activate to go one step further to seek more information from your website.  Each industry has different averages of visitors from social media, so you can use this handy reference to check your averages and see if you sit where you should.  Business and marketing have the highest dependency on social media with over 18% of all traffic coming from one platform or another.  This same report shows that Facebook dominates every single industry as a traffic leader in social media platforms as measured by Google Analytics.

To find out which platforms are sending you traffic from which social media sites, you will want to go into your Google Analytics account and select “Acquisition” on the left navigation.  This will expand the left-hand navigation to show you: Overview, All Traffic, Channels, TreeMaps, Source/Medium, and Referrals.  You will want to select “Channels” once the menu is expanded and this will show you each platform sending you traffic with a series of additional metrics you will want to review so you can leverage the better ones.  You may be surprised by channels and find opportunities that you did not know.


web trafic from social media in GA

The next step in your data mining process is to drill down into the different social ins to your account; you can select paid or organic and identify how each of these are working for your brand.  Within this drill down, we will be looking at “Users” which is the same as unique reach.  This is the number of people that clicked from social media to your website to get more information.  The next column is your, “New Users”.  This means newly exposed to your brand as in, never visited before (The default value for new means 30 days in GA; if the user has not visited in 30 days, then they will be considered a new user).  You will want to consider this as a new opportunity and new to your funnel.  Sessions are the number of times your user has visited and is a reverb of the Starbucks visitor – this is the number of times the person has visited your site and is now coined, “Sessions” in Google Analytics.  Your next metric is “Bounce Rate”, which is simply single-accessed page and leave.  Just as the term says, they bounced out of your site with only a single page view.  This is often associated with website speed and folks get frustrated with page loading speeds and leave.  The industry average bounce rate is 50%; this is because often you go find what you need and leave.  Not all web expeditions are to wind down rabbit holes.  Of course, if we are selling something, we do want lots of engagement with easily retrievable information.  Therefore, you will pay credence to pages that have high bounce rates to determine how to optimize.

Social media metrics

With all of these different measurements, you will want to look at each platform and see who is delivering the best – now go back and build your story as to why this makes sense so you can leverage and repeat the behavior.  You can see that Google Analytics does a fantastic job breaking out mobile sites from desktop, also giving you more insight to your shopper, how they shop and how you perform to their liking.

Google Analytics will also show you how your content is working on each platform – you will need to create segments in order to do this – now you are getting advanced as a lot of avid and sophisticated users don’t know this trick.  Above the chart you will find a filter that says all traffic and next to it, it says, “Add Segment”.  Next you will name your segment and create the requirements.  You will need to create a segment for each platform you would like to measure.  Now you can go to your page views report and see what these users are looking at.  To do this, you will use the left navigation menu to go to, “Behavior” and then “Site Content” and finally, “All Pages”.

segment social metrics to leverage

Now that you have your segments created, you can compare between platforms or compare your total traffic to how each social platform visitor performs.  You may find some above average and some below which give you a starting point to prioritize your marketing efforts; you may choose your low-hanging fruit for a quick win and diminish your efforts on those doozies.  You can see below that whether you are any user or a Facebook source user that, “Search” is the number one function.  However you will note this is not always the case and that in fact that Facebook users go to the cart page on average more than your average user across all sources – this is valuable data and points you towards a great source to leverage – how fun was that discovery?!

social media KPIs



While we know we started at the top of the funnel, we know where we need to go!  It has been well researched and commonly agreed among marketers that engagement in fact leads to conversion and is a key performance indicator of such.  This means you want everything you do to be engaging – dare to dream, that would be like being, “On” all the time.  Each audience will show engagement to different stimuli and that is your challenge to solve.  Using your Social Media KPIs will help you solve this mystery.

Engagement is considered several different metrics and the impact they have are different based on the commitment it takes to engage with your brand.  One type of engagement will have much more value than another.  Let’s discover all engagement metrics and then seek to optimize the ones that really matter, the lesser ones will follow suit without additional effort.

Social Clicks:

Not all social clicks are created equal is the first thing we must know.  If you expand to click more to read the entire caption has less value than clicking the link to go to the article. Clicking on the image is also less value than leaving.  Consider the click out to your site one of the more valuable KPIs you will be evaluating.  However the other clicks are not without merit as these tell the algorithm that this person was interested enough to click something, and therefore is moved into your, “engaged” audience group. This is extremely important for your retargeting initiatives where you will re-engage your audience that has already shown a minor level of interest.

Social Post Likes:

Social post likes are fairly low level indicators of interest or engagement.  It’s a simple click to show your support.  Your network can see your support, which also expands the reach based on your likes so this does have a vibration that adds value.  This is a form of engagement and should not be ignored regardless of the value of the engagement. Again, you are building this audience engagement segment to help you speak to folks who are already aware and need a little nudge to be pushed down the funnel.

Social Page Likes:

A social page like is a larger commitment to engagement than just a post like.  This is someone that wants to see your content is willing to tell you and their network that they are a fan of yours.  Facebook has upped this ante by having both page likes and page followers; as you can imagine a follower is more valuable than a fan.  In both situations, you are seeing commitment of a different level to want content from you as well as want it as priority content.

Post Share:

Here comes the BIG engagement.  When you share someone’s message, you are no longer passively showing your network what you engage with – now you are telling your network what you like and suggesting they too may be interested in the subject.  This extends your reach significantly further than the original page fan reach organically.  The average Facebook profile has 338 connections, meaning for each share, your reach goes up 338 units to someone that has something in common with your user that shared as they are in the same circle.  You can see how word-of-mouth marketing is not only implied but literally shared on social media. WOM has been determined the hottest method of marketing available.  This is your pay dirt – learn what your audience likes sharing and live there.  Tip: Infographics

Post Comment:

Post comment is another high level of engagement.  Leaving a comment shows that you have thought about this more than just passing by – it has in fact interrupted your scroll (every marketer’s dream).  You have now really captured the attention of your audience. Do not let this fall on def ears – always respond, you may very well get another engagement which further pushes your prospect down your funnel.  And you may be surprised how awe-struck folks are when brands respond to them – this really amps up their affinity for you.  Be clever and on-brand.


A mention in a post is another very high engagement metric.  This means a user is actually tagging you and calling out your brand in their post.  This is very exciting – however remember that social networks are as popular for complaints as they are praised.  Rather than absorbing your numbers in isolation, you will want to have a context tool to show you whether this mention is a positive or negative.

Profile Visits:

A profile visit is when a user leaves their news feed and goes to your brand page.  This takes you far beyond the scroll and shows increased engagement right before the largest value engagement, the click to your website.  This means they click your name in a post they saw and went to your page to learn more about you. They are looking for more content to learn and see what others are saying. This is where the consideration stage of the funnel takes place and where community comments matter.  You may want to segment these users and use testimonial ads to help them get to the next stage of the funnel.

These social media KPIs will get you well on your way of understanding what your social audience means to your brand. The tips enclosed should also help you start with some simple quick hits to find success within your social media channels.  Embrace your fans and help them become evangelists by providing content, responses, and value.  After all, we all want to feel appreciated and find value in the brands that we support.


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