Social Media Metrics 101: Understanding Success Online

When you first get started marketing your business, it can be difficult to know where you stand. What makes a social media post good or bad? How do you know how many people are seeing your business online? What’s the difference between reach and impressions, and which is better? With this guide, you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of how your business is performing online.

Before we get started, it’s important to recognize why you should be paying attention to your online content at all. Kevan Lee of Buffer says it best: “It all comes down to one thing: does the metric help you make decisions?” If by measuring your performance, you find a channel that helps you make more sales, the obvious next step is to invest in that channel. When you learn to read your metrics, you’re really learning which levers to pull for your business.

Why Followers Matter
The age-old question: Does it even matter how many followers I have? At the end of the day, every social channel is an opportunity to engage with potential customers. Growing your audience means that you’re building your total customer base, plus increasing your chances to nurture referrals and retention.

In this day and age, another benefit of having a healthy following online is social proof. When new business navigates to your page, they take your audience size as a testimonial that you’re worth paying attention to.

Reach Versus Impressions

Two of the most important metrics for your business are reach and impressions, which you can calculate per platform or for your collective online presence. Reach is the number of unique individuals online that interacted with your brand’s page or content. Impressions, however, are the number of times your content was shown to individual users.

You might have an audience of 100 people, for example, with 3,000 impressions. That would mean that the majority of users were exposed to your brand more than once. Impressions aren’t allocated equally; in this example of 100 users, some may have seen a post 5 times, while others may have seen a post only once.

Neil Patel explains how these metrics can be useful:

“Reach becomes very powerful when compared to other engagement metrics. Use reach as the denominator in your social media measurement equations.

Pick important action or engagement numbers like clicks, retweets, or replies […] and divide them by reach to calculate an engagement percentage. Of the possible audience for your campaign, how many people participated? Reach helps contextualize other engagement metrics.”

Engagement Rate

Your engagement rate is a measure of how much of your audience is interacting with your content. This can include all sorts of metrics, like clicks, Likes, comments, shares, etc. If 10 people Liked a post on your Facebook page, and your total audience size is 250 people, your engagement rate would be 4% for that post.

As you learn what kind of content performs the best for your audience, you’ll want to see your engagement rate increase even as your audience size grows, as well.

What Metrics Can Tell You

  • Which channels can increase revenue for your business
  • If you’re reaching your ideal audience online
  • What kinds of content (like deals/specials) your customers are interested in

Learn the Lingo

Social Proof – When new customers trust your follower count as “proof” that your business is worthy of their attention.
Reach – The number of unique individuals online that interacted with your brand’s page or content.
Impressions – The number of times your content was shown to individual users.
Engagement rate – The measure of how much of your audience is interacting with your content.

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