The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.


social media metrics

Both Twitter and Pinterest have recently launched analytics platforms to help businesses get the most out of their social marketing efforts.

Meanwhile, Facebook Insights have been available for three years (they’ve come on a long way in that time). And social media apps such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Klout all allow users to measure different aspects of their social media engagement.

As copywriters and marketers have known for over a century, stats are the best way of finding out what works, and what doesn’t.

But how can you make sure you’re making the most of your social metrics?

1. Know Where You’re Headed

For any journey, you need a map, a destination and a route.

Metrics are not the map. They don’t show you where to go. And they’re not the destination or the end goal. Rather, they help you see whether you’re taking the right path.

Before you set any goals for your social media engagement, you need to know where your business is headed. The goals you set for social media should then serve your business goals.

For example, let’s say you have a business goal of increasing revenue by 10%. To do this, you need to make more sales. And to make more sales, you need to increase traffic to your website. Boosting traffic is a goal social media can help with.

2. Get Familiar With What You Can Track on Social Media

What you can measure is usually dictated by the analytics tools you use. Some of the things you can track include:

  • Engagement. This is measured by tracking how many people reply to a post. On Facebook, these are comments and on Twitter they’re replies.
  • Volume. How much are your posts being spread? The more your updates are shared, the louder your volume. On Twitter, volume is created by retweets. On Facebook, the volume is amped up by “shares”.
  • Reach. This is the number of people who are seeing a particular post. Reach helps you put other stats into context. Getting 10 comments isn’t too impressive if you’ve got a reach of 1 million. However, 10 comments on a reach of 100 people is something to smile about.
  • Sales. How many sales are you making as a result of your social media posts? If you run an online store, Google Analytics can keep track of this for you.
  • Lead gen. If you run a service business, how many new leads are you generating each month as a result of social media? This is easy to track if you generate leads directly on social media though you’ll have to keep track of the stats for yourself.

This is just some of what it’s possible to track on social media. It’s worth getting familiar with several social analytics tools so you can see for yourself what it’s possible to measure.

3. Set Goals Based on What You Can Track and Where You’re Headed

Once you know what it’s possible to track, then you can set appropriate goals for your social media accounts.

Compare what you can track to your business goals. Which metrics are the best indicators of whether you’re achieving your business goals?

For example, if one of your business goals is to provide excellent customer service, then you might want to keep track of how long it takes you to reply to customer queries on social media.

If your aim is to boost the visibility of your brand, then you’ll need to track volume.

4. Make Your Goals SMART

SMART goals, as invented by Peter Drucker, one of the greatest business thinkers of the 20th century, are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

When it comes to tracking your social metrics, it’s particularly important to make your goals measurable. You’ve already done this by setting goals based on what you can track.

It’s also important that your goals are actionable. This means you know the specific actions you need to take to achieve those goals.

This is easier for some goals than for others. Taking the customer service example we outlined in the previous step, you might have set a goal of responding to customer queries on social media within two hours. Acting on that goal is simple. You’ve got to find a way of keeping track of customer queries, and you’ve got to make sure you reply to them.

However, if your goal is to increase the number of times your posts are shared, then the actions you should take are less obvious, so it’s not a SMART goal. You could adjust this goal to be “create three pieces of content with viral potential every week.”

5. Have a “Dashboard” Where You Can View Your Stats

Measuring your stats is only useful if you remember to check-in and see how things are going. You’re much more likely to do this if you keep all your stats in one location.

All good analytics software provides a “dashboard” with a stats overview. However, this is only useful if the dashboard tracks the stats that are relevant to your goals. You may find it more helpful to create your own “dashboard” by noting down metrics in a spreadsheet.

6. Tweak as Necessary

Social media is a rapidly changing landscape. A decade ago, Twitter and Pinterest didn’t even exist. Facebook was in its early infancy.

No matter what goals you set for your social marketing, you will have to adjust them. This could be because technology changes. Or it could be because you discover that your goals are close to impossible, or that your goals aren’t as aligned with your business objectives as they could be.

Adjusting your goals – and the actions you take to achieve those goals – isn’t a sign of weakness. It doesn’t mean you’re turning back. It means you’re responsive to feedback, and you’re moving forwards.

7. Keep Experimenting!

Social media is an experiment. No one has the monopoly on the right way to do it.

It’s a good idea to see your efforts in tracking metrics as experiments. That way, you can’t go wrong, because whatever you learn is feedback for your experiment.

And the great thing about experiments is that you never know when you’ll discover something no one has ever found before.

Facebook Mistakes

Anyone with an Internet connection can have a Facebook account.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone can use Facebook well.

In fact, we see brands and other organisations making big mistakes on Facebook all the time. These mistakes are cringeworthy, and make us want to facepalm.

If you plan to succeed on social media, then please, please, don’t do any of the following.

1. Forgetting About Line-Breaks

The Internet has transformed the way we read. We skim content instead of taking time to absorb it.

That means we prefer content that’s written using short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. This is true for blogging, and it’s even more relevant for social media.

Facebook posts should never be made of long paragraphs, without a single line break. In fact, if possible, Facebook posts shouldn’t be long at all. Shorter is almost always better for engagement.

If you do have a longer message to share, break it up. For a Facebook post, one or two sentences per paragraph is plenty. And those should be short, snack-size sentences too.

2. Yawn-worthy Writing

Every brand has a personality. Some are bursting with life and energy (Red Bull). Some are creative types (Apple). Others are safe and reliable (Volvo). Your brand’s personality should shine through on your Facebook page with every update you post.

Yes, you can write Facebook posts in the same way you were taught to write papers at high school. But seriously, do you really want to come across as a grey-suited accountant? Probably not, unless you are an accountant…

Here are some questions you can use to help uncover your brand’s personality.

If you were a…

  • dog… which breed would you be?
  • car… what type of car would be?
  • celebrity… who would you be?
  • city… which city would you be?

Once you’ve figured out your brand’s personality, write your Facebook posts in that voice. You’ll have more sparkle, and you’ll engage better with your followers.

3. Posting Your Business News on Your Brand Page

Great things happen in business. You hire a new staff member to handle your finances (yay for no more bookkeeping!). You have your most profitable year ever. You score the client you’ve always dreamed of working with.

Understandably, when good things happen, you want to celebrate. Likewise, when things don’t go as planned, it can be helpful to have a listening ear to talk things through with.

Facebook, however, is not the place to share your business news. Your customers don’t need to know the ins-and-outs of your business. And frankly, they’re not interested.

Make sure everything you post to your Facebook page is useful, inspiring or entertaining to your customers. And share your business news with those who really care about it – your investors, partners, mentors and employees.

4. Link Stuffing

You’ve got a ton of cool stuff you want to share, right? Maybe it’s useful articles you want to link to. Or products on your website (see number 5. before you do that…).

So why not put as many links as you can in each Facebook post? The more the merrier, as they say.

When it comes to putting links in your Facebook posts, it’s a case of too many cooks spoil the broth. You should never put more than one link in a Facebook post. Why? Because otherwise you’ll give your fans analysis paralysis. With too much choice, they won’t do anything.

It’s also worth remembering that links are one of the worst types of Facebook post for engagement. When people click links, they navigate away from your Facebook post, so they’re unlikely to go back and click “like”. For engagement, share videos, photos, and short text updates.

5. Putting On Your Sales Hat

Business is all about sales. If you’re not shifting product, you’re not making money. No money, no business. Simple.

Does that mean you should take every opportunity you can to sell? Damn right it does.

But Facebook is not a sales opportunity.

This isn’t idealistic woo-woo. It’s about how people use Facebook. Facebook is a place for relationships. Nobody goes to Facebook to buy stuff. They go there to hang out with people (and sometimes brands) that they like.

Making your Facebook page into a sales floor is a surefire way of alienating your fans.

That’s not to say you can’t share offers and promotions on your Facebook page. It’s just that the primary purpose of your Facebook page is about having a good time with people who like your brand, and helping them in the best way you can. So if you do share a promotion, make sure it’s fun and relevant to your fans.

6. Ignoring the Pleas of Frustrated Customers

Did you know that 71% of people who got a quick and effective customer service response from a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to others?

What’s quick and timely? Well, 42% of people who have complained on social media expect a response within one hour. And 67% expect a response later the same day.

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to voice their frustrations. And if brands fail to respond, then they’ll lose customers.

So get out there and start listening to your customers today. You’ll be glad you did.

7. Treating it as a Broadcast Platform

Before social media took the world by storm, media was a one way thing. Media producers created cool stuff, such as TV shows, newspapers and advertisements. Everyone else consumed the media.

These days, we’re all producers.

In other words, social media isn’t a broadcast platform. It’s not all about you. It’s a dialogue platform, where you get to talk to your customers. That’s a big responsibility, but it’s also a privilege. By talking to your customers, you can find out more about what they want, and better serve their needs.

Ignore Bad Social Media Advice

There’s plenty of advice out there about social media.

Some of it is brilliant.

Some of it’s meh… okay.

And some of it is downright awful.

If you ever come across any of these tips, run away as fast as your legs will carry you…

1. Facebook’s the Only Place to Be

Facebook is the world’s most popular network. It’s on course to hit 1.5 billion active users anytime soon.

Does that mean your business needs to be on Facebook? Perhaps.

If you sell to consumers, then Facebook is a great place to be. But if your customers are other businesses? Then other networks will be far better for promoting your products or services.

The key here is to choose the social networks that are right for you and your brand.

2. Email is “Old Hat”

Yes, email was around before many of Generation Y were even born (that’s why we call them digital natives). But that’s no reason to dismiss email.

Rather, email’s long life – and the fact that everyone uses it – is a big reason to embrace email.

Did you know that for every dollar invested in email marketing, the average return is over $40?

Email’s here to stay – so make sure it’s integral to your social strategy.

3. Ignore (and Delete) Negative Comments

You think that ignoring the mud-flinging makes you look professional and detached?

Then you’re wrong.

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media with complaints. And they expect a response.

So make sure you know how to use social media as an effective customer service tool.

4. Never Let Your Employees Anywhere Near Twitter

This is a “helpful tip” you’ll probably hear from a lawyer. Their heart is in the right place. They want you to avoid a lawsuit.

The problem is, lawyers think like lawyers. They don’t make great marketers.

Nowadays, people want to engage with businesses. They want to see that you’re human and vulnerable – and (horror of horrors!) you sometimes make mistakes.

Yes, letting your team loose on social media is risky. And you should always train them first. But it will help you engage with your customers and ultimately be good for your marketing.

5. You Should Never Automate Updates

Some people argue that your social media accounts are only authentic if you’re sitting at your computer (or on your smartphone) when you post updates.

We call baloney.

Scheduled updates are vital to any sensible social strategy. They give you a social presence around the clock without the need to constantly sit at your computer. If you did that, you’d never get anything else done!

Of course, you should make sure you have time to go live on social media from time to time. We recommend logging in for 15 minutes a day. That gives you time to engage with your followers without sacrificing your calendar.

6. The More Social Networks You Use, the Better

Here’s the spirit behind this advice: spread your net wide, and you’ll catch a ton of fish.

The truth? Spread yourself thin, and you’ll struggle to have any impact. Plus, you will burn out.

Social media is constantly changing. New networks are coming on the scene all the time. It’s good to keep track of trends, so you can stay ahead of the crowd.

But jump on every bandwagon, and you’ll be taken on so many rides you’ll have no time for your core audience.

What’s the right way of doing things? Find the networks where your customers are most likely to hang out, and use those.

7. You Need Thousands of Followers to Succeed on Social Media

Having thousands (or millions) of social media followers is a huge asset for your business. We’d never deny that.

But far more important than a big audience is the right audience. Quality trumps quantity any day.

Your ideal followers:

  • Are in love with your brand
  • Have similar values to your brand
  • Are engaged – they read and respond to your updates

In other words, they’re your true fans.

With just a handful of followers like this, you’ll go way further than with thousands of zombie followers.

8. Only Post at Optimal Times

We’re somewhat guilty of proliferating this advice. One of our most popular posts is The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Networks.

You might guess that you should only post at the best times, when your audience is most likely to be online.

It’s certainly true that you should be posting at your best times. But you should also be posting at other times too.

Sometimes you’ll get the best engagement during downtimes, when only a few people are online.

9. Social Media is Great Because it’s FREE

Social media is brilliant because you can reach a huge audience without sinking a ton of money into it.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s free. To get your voice heard on social media, you’ll need to devote a significant amount of time to updating your feeds and engaging with your followers.

You will also need to make the most of your creativity. To be a success on social media, you need to draw on your smarts.

On top of that, using social media effectively can cost money. Investing in ads, scheduling tools and analytics tools can be money well spent.

10. Always Keep it Professional

Yes, you should have a professional approach to social media. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reveal who you really are.

In fact, it’s really important to share your brand’s story, to let your personality shine, and to let people see beneath the hood of your business.