If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that social media was (and still remains) the place to connect with clients – and especially prospects. Faced with the reality of essentially becoming invisible in the aftermath of stay-at-home orders and subsequent work-from-home policies, there was no better way to get in front of and remain top of mind for your target audience. So, you either dove in headfirst, or you dipped your toes into the social media pool. However you entered the waters of Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you had to quickly learn to swim or you would sink.

You perfected (or quite possibly just set up) your profile, produced virtual programs, crafted posts, and recorded videos — all great social media marketing content to keep you in front of your audience. But how do you know if any of your efforts actually made an impact? All of this is meaningless unless you measure performance.

Measuring your social media efforts allows you to track the effectiveness of your activities, improve your brand awareness and return on investment (ROI), and learn what was successful and what needs improvement.

So how do you measure the data, you ask. Let me tell you the ways!

Define your goals.

Think about what you are trying to achieve by using social media as a means to engage with your audience. Are you looking to:

  • build brand awareness?
  • increase engagement?
  • boost conversion rates?
  • obtain new clients/followers?

This is a critical first step because what you are trying to achieve may impact what data you gather and analyze. For example, if you want to increase brand awareness, you will measure your content’s reach. You will see below that this is a useful measure, but the data is not always clear-cut.

Identify your metrics.

Are you trying to get your audience to read, like, share, comment, or click? Pair your goals to the metric you want to measure. For instance:

Measure reach to see how many people view your content and how far it spreads.

Pro tip: To achieve this goal, you’ll want to track metrics such as views, likes, shares, mentions, or followers gained over a designated period of time such as weeks or months. Make sure to be consistent when pulling the data to ensure your benchmark is accurate.

There is not a single number here that you should be striving for, rather a gradual and steady increase over time. The number of reactions or interactions your content receives is a direct result of the number of followers or connections you have and how relevant your content is.

On LinkedIn for example, only about 20% of your connections are likely to see your content due to the platform’s algorithm. So, if you have 1,000 followers, expect ~200 of your connections to see your content in their feed. If your content is well developed — uses the right hashtags, construction, etc., it will gain more traction online and therefore have a broader reach.

Long story short, figure out how your content is performing today, and as you focus on posting relevant, well-optimized content moving forward, measure how your reach is increasing.

Measure engagement to see how many people interact with your content.

Pro tip: To reach this goal, you’ll want to track metrics such as comments, reactions, impressions, reshares, or retweets. Tracking this metric will help you identify content your audience finds of value.

Again, there is not one number we can all focus on for engagement. It is, instead, a gradual increase over time. Increased engagement with your content should be proportional to increased reach.

If your content performs poorly (low volume of views/reactions + low engagement), consider the post’s format or substance. It might not be the right content for your audience, or maybe “off-brand” for your online presence.
Check out Robyn Addis’s recent video about creating content pillars to govern your social media content creation strategy.

Measure conversion rate to see the effectiveness of your social media engagement.

Pro tip: To reach this goal, you’ll want to track your click-through rate (CTR) to see how many visitors took action and clicked on a link within your post. Did they open a blog post, subscribe to a newsletter, or download gated content? Tracking this metric will identify if your calls-to-action were compelling enough for your visitors to act upon.

Measure your metrics.

After you have determined your goals and metrics best for judging effectiveness, you need to actually measure them. Let’s go back to some of the possible goals we identified in the beginning, and talk about how to measure them.

  • If you want to build brand awareness, you will track views/impressions. (Remember, you are aiming to measure a gradual increase over time.)
  • Looking to increase engagement? Track the number of reactions, comments, and reshares of your content. (Tracking a gradual increase over time is ideal.) Low engagement means your content didn’t hit the mark, and we’ll talk in a minute about how to analyze and refine your strategy with this data.
  • A goal of boosting conversion rates can be measured by tracking how many people complete a desired action such as filling out a form to subscribe to communications or download content. This is captured via your website’s forms tool, or better yet via your CRM/email marketing tool. (At LISI, we use HubSpot for this!)
  • And the best goal of all is obtaining new clients. Especially in professional services marketing, it’s hard to tie a single social media activity to a prospect’s conversion. Every touch leaves an impression on your prospective client and we’ll never promise you that one post can get you new business. But capturing lead data and engaging with the contact over time can all help influence this conversion.

Every social media channel has its own form of analytics you can use to see how your activity is performing. It’s a great low-budget way to start your analytics reporting, but can be time-consuming to aggregate and analyze. In order to dig deeper into the data efficiently, you may need to use third-party social media analytics tools – which is a great time-saver option, but comes at a cost.

Report your findings.

Now that you have this data, what are you going to do with it? Use your initial data as a benchmark for future measurements to see how it compares over time and report your findings to stakeholders. Did your measurements meet your goals? Did they exceed your expectations or did they fall short?

Refine your approach.

Last but certainly not least, use this data to make adjustments to your social media strategies as needed.

  • Poor reach and/or engagement? Increase followers, use different hashtags, and format your content in a new and fresh way.
  • Great reach and/or engagement? What was it about that post/topic that resonated with your audience? Once you find the content that resonates, focus on those topics consistently.
  • Poor conversions? Think about whether or not your calls-to-action are clear and deliberate; retool as necessary.
  • Great conversions/CTR? Use the methods that are working consistently.

You get the point — figure out what the data tells you and do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.

Measuring your social media performance is not a one-and-done approach. This is a constant exercise to see how effective your social media campaigns truly are. At the end of the day it’s not about how many people viewed your post or how many likes or comments you got (even though it is nice to see), it’s about being consistent in your messaging and delivering value-added content to your audience, who one day may turn into a client.