Mind Your Metrics
Updated: Nov 12, 2021
Metrics and KPIs explained
If you’ve been in business for a while or even if you’re new to it, you have probably noticed that one of the best ways to track success is to analyze data. No matter what industry you are in or what efforts you are trying to track, data will always be one of your best friends.
When it comes to social media, you have to pay close attention to the metrics that really matter to your business. Those will change depending on the goals you have and sometimes even depending on the duration you are tracking the information, either because of seasonality, a change in the objectives, or a change in the business itself.
How to know which metrics to track.
First things first, not every metric will be relevant to your current business objective. Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms have detailed insights about your engagement, followers, interactions, and many other things. It's good to understand which insights are important to analyze in different circumstances.
Let's look at a more specific example. Say your goal is to increase engagement on your posts. The metrics you should be looking at are your engagement rate, interactions per post, and the time your followers are most active (so you can make sure to be active at the same time). These are some pretty standard metrics to use when you have this type of goal, but in some cases, you will need to adjust your approach.
This is where things can get interesting.
Let’s clarify something, metrics are ANY trackable number or data from your business. It is important to pay attention to specific metrics that impact your current business objective. This will avoid metric overwhelm and help you stay clear and focused on your task at hand.
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are the pertinent metrics your business should measure for a defined goal. A good plan for tracking progress for a certain goal will outline 5-7 KPI's. KPIs are outcome-based statements that define your business objectives making them measurable. Each KPI should include a measure, a target, a data source, and a reporting frequency. They help you stay focused on achieving the goal.
The watered-down version is, every KPI is a metric but not all metrics are KPIs. Keep that difference in mind because we will be referencing both throughout this article. A metric is a measurement and a KPI is an outlined objective that is tracked by analyzing multiple applicable metrics.
What metrics are most used and what do they mean?
For social media in general, the most used metrics are reach, engagement, and follower growth. This may change a little depending on the platform. For example, LinkedIn and Facebook also track page visits (something that Instagram does not do).
This is more complex when it comes to your business website because you usually have way more metrics to analyze and you can have a list of those metrics for every single page. What was already a lot of data to analyze becomes ten times more intense.
Post Reach vs Post Engagement
Post reach is exactly what it sounds like, it means how many profiles were reached by one post. This can be less than the number of followers you have or more. For example, it can be less because not everyone who follows you has seen that specific post or it can be more because the post went viral and people who do not follow you ended up seeing it.
Post engagement refers to how many profiles are actually engaged with your post. That metric considers likes, comments, shares, saves, etc. Anything that people can do to interact with your post is counted inside the engagement.
Engagement Rates: What they are and how to calculate them
Finally, engagement rates are the total engagement for any given time period. While post engagement looks to one specific post, engagement rates are broader. If you want to be really specific about it, the rate is calculated as the total number of interactions (engagement) your overall content receives divided by your total number of followers, multiplied by 100%.
The engagement rate is one of the only metrics that you cannot track on most social media themselves, but there are websites that have engagement rate calculators and can do the work for you. We like Phlanx (Phlanx is a marketing platform to contact influencers, work with brands, create contracts and measure engagement) as they have a free (but limited) calculator tool.
Just to give you an idea, according to Social Media College, most research indicates that the average branded engagement rate on Instagram hovers around 1.22%, though this varies heavily by industry. For Evoke we tend to have between 2% and 4% of engagement at any given time. Keep in mind that the higher your engagement rate is, the more engaged/interested your followers are.
Because this KPI has more than one metric inside of it, another thing to keep in mind is that (usually) the more followers you have, the lower your engagement will be. This is not always the case but it is something we see very often. If you are interested in knowing more about engagement rates from your competitors or other brands, you can easily calculate them online (and then compare them to yours if needed).
Keep in Mind
One important thing is that a KPI cannot be analyzed by itself for two different reasons. The first being that you cannot track a metric once and be done with it. That will have no impact whatsoever on what you are trying to analyze. For it to be relevant, you need something to compare it to.
Call it a baseline, meaning that you need a primary number to start the analysis and interpretation. Then, collect a secondary one to compare it with and start extracting meaningful insights.
Another reason why you cannot track a KPI by itself is that you need context. You need a scenario where you put one metric against another and extract insights. There is no way you can draw any conclusions if you look at a number by itself.
Think of it this way, you cheer for a specific soccer player and you know that he scored 20 goals throughout the season. Is that a good thing? It is impossible to know at this point. For it to be relevant, you would have to know how many games he played (or even how many minutes) and how many goals other players in the same position scored, among other information. Otherwise, you cannot know if that is a good statistic or not.
The last thing to consider is that the reason why we track those metrics is to draw some type of conclusion. By comparing one metric to another or grouping them, you can start interpreting what they mean. It takes critical thinking. By looking at the numbers, you can start speculating about what they mean in terms of customer satisfaction, behavior, and other aspects of your business.
If you can remember anything from this post, let this be it: KPIs change throughout time. As your business evolves and your goals change, your KPIs will also shift. The goals and objectives for your business are directly linked to KPIs. You cannot define your KPIs without first knowing your objective. Without putting the data into context you will not be able to effectively measure or analyze anything.
It is imperative to set specific goals to ensure you aren't measuring every possible metric rather only the ones that provide valuable insight and support your initiative.
Do you need help setting specific goals and tracking your progress? With the start of a new year ahead, now is the perfect time to begin outlining and focusing on actionable ways to achieve your overall business strategies and goals for growth in 2022.
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