The Social Media Metrics That Truly Matter

by | Nov 30, 2017 | Guests Podcast

What is a Facebook Like worth? How about a Twitter follower? Industry researchers and even lawyers are happy to give us numbers like $3.60 or $2.50 respectively. My answer? I believe it depends on your objective, audience, and offers. Unfortunately, too many marketers are focusing on the wrong metrics and making poor strategic decisions as a result. In this article, I will outline a few key metrics to consider incorporating into your key performance indicators (KPIs) if you’re interested in getting that bonus or just keeping your job. Before we dive in, let me take a moment to explain the concept of ratios at KPIs. For starters, the standard model for social media measurement is to track one or more of the following:

  • Awareness: total number (or percentage growth) of Likes, Fans, Followers, Subscribers, or Views
  • Engagement: total quantity or quality of Shares, Comments, Retweets, Replies, Ratings, or Conversations

While these metrics can certainly help set a baseline and provide trending for general reach and frequency, they can be misleading or misinterpreted as absolute values. One way to minimize the limitations of these metrics is to track them as ratios instead. The benefit of a ratio is that it focuses on relationships and relativity. For example, marketers shouldn’t care as much about the total number of Likes on Facebook; rather, they should care about the level of quality and engagement with those individuals. One way to do that is by looking at relationships like the average number of comments or shares-per-post. In that scenario, the focus is on the relative quality of engagement over time. The absolute numbers in this scenario may look to be increasing, but when compared relative to each other, total engagement may be decreasing. Here’s a specific example:

Month 1 #s Month 2 #s Metrics Chng
Likes 2,000 Likes 4,000 Like Growth 100%
Posts 100 Posts 125 Post Growth 25%
Comments 200 Comments 300 Comment Growth 50%
Comments-per-Post 2 Comments-per-Post 2.4 CPP Growth 20%
Comments-per-Like 0.1 Comments-per-Like 0.075 CPL Growth -25%


In the above Facebook example, the “Old School” Social Media Marketing Manager would claim success, based on month-to-month Like, Post, and Comment Growth. However, if we dig deeper, you’ll notice the comment-per-like ratio is down as other areas grow. As CMO, I would call out the discrepancy, as it implies overall social media engagement is down, not up. Keep in mind, that this is an overly-simplified example meant to illustrate the power of ratios. The Matrix As you can see from the example above, I’m compelled to create a matrix at any opportunity. In the following case, I felt a matrix was the easiest way to communicate a sampling of ratio-based metrics for social media platforms, based on objectives. I also included sample goals and alternative metrics. These are not meant to be de facto metrics for all social media marketing efforts. Rather, they are meant to foster conversation and inspire you to create meaningful metrics. Let’s take a look:

Platform Objective Metric  Goal Alternate Metric
Facebook Customer Engagement Av. #Comments/Post 10 Av. # Shares/Week
Twitter General Awareness Av. New Followers/Post 5 Av. #RTs/Post
LinkedIn Thought Leadership # Best Answers 20 # InRecommendations
YouTube Sales/Lead Generation # Leads or Sales/View 1% Likes/Views
Google+ Customer Service # Hangouts/Week 3 NetPromoter Score
Pinterest General Awareness # Likes/Pin 10% # Repins
SlideShare Sales/Lead Generation # Leads or Sales/View 2% # Downloads
iTunes Thought Leadership # Downloads/Month 500 Ratings
Quora Thought Leadership # Best Answers 10 Referring Traffic
Blog General Awareness # Unique Visitors/Month 1000 Comments/Post


I encourage you to review and discuss this matrix with your executive and marketing team. Ask the following questions:

  • Which platforms are most relevant to our target audience? (Yes, you need to know enough about your customers, prospects, and social platforms to answer this question)
  • Which objective is a priority for each of those platforms? (See above. Map your objective to the strengths of each platform, based on user behavior and your communications or business goals)
  • Does the sample metric make sense for your business? (Run sample data through and see what insights it provides. I suggest 1-3 months for a test, depending on the volume of data)
  • What goal is most realistic based on your current objectives, audience, resources, and timelines? (Consider setting a baseline and a stretch goal – which may be 10-50% higher)
  • Are there any secondary metrics you should consider? (Consider testing before finalizing, or create an entirely separate KPI for the alternative metrics)

Once you’ve answered the questions above to your satisfaction and completed an initial test, you should discover entirely new insights in regards to how to best allocate your social media resources to maximize return-on-investment (ROI) on your overall marketing program. Feel free to drop me a line to let me know how it goes and know we’re always here to help you through the process if you get stuck.

Additional social media marketing resources:

Social Media (Marketing) Evangelist Job Description

How to be a Rock Star on 8 Social Media Platforms

Death by Discount: How Brands Fuel Unrealistic Consumer Expectations

9 ways to Lose Friends and Alienate People in Social Media

How to Become a Social Media Guru in 3 Easy Steps

5 Reasons for Brands not to Outsource Social Media Marketing

Kent Lewis is the Deksia CMO. Deksia is a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine, social media, and mobile marketing for clients worldwide. For more information, visit 

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