Before 2020, social media use had been trending toward a slow decline, with concerns over screen time, false information and threats to quality in-person interaction. But the pandemic renewed its relevance in one swift stroke when we quite literally couldn’t interact in person. In 2020, Americans social media use jumped to 82 minutes per day — up a massive by 7 minutes per day from the 2019 average.
To keep pace with changing user demands and offer the best experience possible, social media platforms are in a state of constant evolution with new algorithms that determine who sees what content and when. For marketers, it’s important to be aware of these changes to adapt accordingly and leverage each platform’s strengths to make campaigns as successful as possible.
But that begs an obvious question: How do you know if your social media presence is successful? It all comes down to metrics. Metrics reveal if your posts are effective, what you should be doing more or less of, how your audience is growing (or not), and how your marketing budget should be spent on these platforms.
Let’s dive into the new and trending metrics that marketers should be using to measure PR and social media success.
Reach & Impressions: Who is viewing your social media content?
Two of the most important social media marketing metrics to keep in mind are post reach and post impressions. These metrics provide you with the rough number of people who have viewed a given post.
Post reach is the number of unique viewers that were exposed to a piece of content after its posting. Reach is a measure of your potential audience size. One way to increase your post reach is to be aware of the timing of your posts. Posting content when your followers are active on social media will significantly increase your post reach, and it’s important that your posts get engagement within a few hours of posting so that the algorithms will put your posts in front of even more of your target audience.
There are countless studies out there about “the best times to post,” but many rely on aggregate data from a wide array of users and industries, while your audience and its habits are unique to you. If your target is interior designers, for example, it might make sense to post during typical business hours. If it’s contractors, they’re usually active on jobsites during business hours, so the lunch hour or late afternoon might make more sense for you.
Post impressions are the number of times your post shows up in a user’s feed, regardless of whether the user has interacted with the post or not. Impressions are typically larger than the number of followers you have; your content shows up in your feed when you publish it and appear again when a one of your followers shares it. If users see both in their feed, it counts as two impressions for one post.
Monitoring post reach and post impressions will help you determine if you are posting at the right time of the day and if you are using the right hashtags and keywords in your posts.
Engagement: Are users interacting?
Every social media platform has ways for users to interact—likes, tweets, comments, mentions, favorites, reposts, and more. Determining if users are simply scrolling past your content or interacting with your content is a key marker of its relevance, and a way to ensure more users see it.
If your content is being engaged by users it will be boosted in the platform’s algorithm.
An average engagement rate measures more than just the likes, retweets, etc, and you can compare them to the number of followers you have to get a better understanding of what percentage of your followers also actively engages with your brand. Engagement can also be a good measurement against how you are performing versus your competitors.
Amplification and virality rates are two other important user metrics. Amplification rate tells you the number of followers who are sharing your content. A high amplification rate indicates that users are so interested in your content that they are sharing it with other users. Virality rate is the number of people who shared your post compared to the number of people that viewed your post.
Response: Are you keeping the conversation going?
An easy way to build or maintain positive brand awareness is by interacting with your consumers. Responding to comments, questions, direct messaging, and mentions, both negative and positive, shows customers you care about their opinions.
It is important to get the customer information in a timely fashion and do so with care. This can increase followers, engagements, interactions, your credibility, and help you learn more about your own social media. Positive customer interaction can lead to your audience promoting your brand for you.
From Metrics to Marketing
Knowing what to look for when tracking your social metrics will help refine your social media tactics and show you which efforts are paying off and which efforts need to be improved or dropped altogether. And learning how to apply these metrics can result in broad-scale audience success.