Social Media KPIs – The Ultimate Guide

Social media managers must report on a variety of KPIs regularly. However, there are dozens of different KPIs that can be tracked, and social media managers must decide which ones are most important for their business. Because there are so many possible KPIs to track, there are inevitably plenty of questions about what the best social media KPIs are and why. More on that topic in just a bit. But the very question related to what KPIs for social media marketing are and how they are calculated are important and should be clearly understood. 

Social media marketing KPIs are essential in determining how your media. Without knowing what relevant KPIs are, and what they are actually measuring, social media managers will not be able to accurately describe how their work is helping a company or brand. To help you understand the ins and outs of social media KPIs, this article will provide some context about how to determine what KPIs to track and how to explain them to stakeholders who might not be well-versed in social media marketing.

Most of all, we want to provide some insights into social media goals and KPIs not so much to tell you that they are important, but to help you find what KPIs are important for you and why. We will begin by highlighting how to identity KPIs that are important for you and then providing a detailed list of social media KPI. This will, of course, include an explanation of how to measure KPIs in social media. Lastly, we will tell you how social media tools can be indispensable for tracking, analyzing, and reporting your KPIs. 

Determining the Best KPIs for Social Media

Before looking into the KPIs themselves, some social media managers may be wondering what KPIs they should track in the first place. Let’s get one thing straight to start, there is, in reality, no “best” social media KPI. Rather, KPIs should provide insight into how you are performing relative to your goals. 

For example, if you simply want for people to be familiar with your company’s or brand’s name, then your KPI tracking should focus on metrics such as reach and impressions. If you want to generate debate or engagement around your social media account(s), then you should prioritize KPIs such as post interaction rate and mentions. If your goal is to drive sales for your brand, then overall conversions or the click-through rates to your product pages would be of interest to you.

Of course, understanding how KPIs are measured is needed so that you can accurately explain what they mean. While this may seem straightforward to some, in reality there are some misunderstandings about what some KPIs are, and how they are measured. Understanding KPIs, for many social media managers, may seem self-explanatory, but it is necessary to realize that you probably will need to clearly articulate their importance to stakeholders or clients. 

Social Media KPIs Explained

Without further ado, we have created a list of the most important social media KPIs. In the sections below, we will be explaining generally what social media KPIs are and how to measure them. For the social media KPI examples found below, you should be aware that there may be some slight differences in how they may calculated depending on the social media channel.

1. Reach

Reach refers to the total number of unique users who view your content. Put simply, the higher your reach, the greater the number of people who have seen your content. Before we will tell you how to measure social media reach, we should add that reach doesn’t always tell you much how your audience is consuming your content and whether they find it persuasive. It simply tells you how many people your content reaches.

How to Measure: We see a number of questions about how to calculate reach on social media. In reality, reach is a metric that is provided by social media platforms or, if you are using a social media tool, it can be recorded there. 

2. Impressions

Impressions refer to the total number of times your content is displayed in, for example, someone’s feed, whether they “see” it or not. It indicates how often your content could have been seen, which may not equate to how many people actually saw it.

How to Measure: Some may feel a bit lost on how to measure social media impressions, since these are generally not as immediately visible as is the case of number of likes or comments. Similar to reach, impressions are found within the platform’s analytics section. Please note that impressions do not represent unique users, since one user can count multiple times in the impression total.

3. Engagement

Engagement KPIs for social media managers are generally among the most tracked, since it relates not to how often a post appears in someone’s feed, but rather your audience’s engagement with a post. In social media marketing, the engagement rate measures the interaction between users and your social media content, which includes actions such as likes, comments, and shares. This can be a valuable number in understanding how often followers are interacting with your company or brand’s posts, which be a good reflection on the quality of your content.

A woman on her phone liking a post and with social media metrics on the phone behind her.

We should also point out here that the average engagement rate for all your social media channels can be helpful to see how your social media activities are doing as a whole. In this case, using a social media tool can help you to compile your average engagement rates across all accounts. 

How to Measure: To accurately measure social media engagement, you need to define what actions you count as interactions, such as likes, comments, or share. Then you should decide if the number of interactions should be measured in relation to your total number of followers, or the total number of impressions your posts generate.

Some social media platforms may calculate the engagement rate by dividing the daily number of likes, comments, and shares by the number of followers. Others calculate it engagement by the number of likes, comments, and shares by the total number of impressions. It is always important to know how this number is calculated, so make sure you understand where the data is coming from.

The formula to calculate the Engagement Rate based on interactions such as likes, shares, comments in relation to total followers is as follows:

Engagement Rate = (Total Engagement / Total Followers) *100%

However, you can also define engagement in relation to the reach or total Impressions if that is more to your liking. This calculation looks like this:

Engagement Rate = (Total Engagement / Total Impressions) *100%

To help you understand how to calculate social media engagement rate for yourself, below is an example of engagement rate based on your number of followers: 

Let’s say your data for a specific post includes the following:

  • Monday: 20 Interactions and 3500 Total Followers
  • Tuesday: 0 Interactions and 3590 Total Followers
  • Wednesday: 37 Interactions and 3700 Total Followers
  • Thursday: 100 Interactions and 3750 Total Followers
  • Friday: 0 Interactions and 3755 Total Followers
  • Saturday: 0 Interactions and 3780 Total Followers
  • Sunday: 2 Interactions and 3783 Total Followers

This results in the following daily engagement rates:

  • Monday: 0.0057 (20/3500)*100 or 0.57%
  • Tuesday: 0 (0/3590) *100 or 0.0%
  • Wednesday: 0.01 (37/3700)*100 or 1%
  • Thursday: 0.027 (100/3750)*100 or 2.7%
  • Friday: 0 (0/3755) *100 or 0.0% 
  • Saturday: 0 (0/3780) *100 or 0.0% 
  • Sunday: 0.00053 (2/3783) *100 or 0.053%

Once you have compiled this data, you can also calculate the average engagement rate for the entire week:

(0.0057+0+0.01+0.027+0+0+0.00053)/7 = 0.0062 = 0.62%

This means that for this given week, users engaged with your posts 0.62% of the time.         

Note: If you are wondering how to measure engagement on all social media channels for analytical or benchmarking purposes, make sure that the social media profiles you are benchmarking are comparable in size, industry, etc.

4. Follower Growth Rate

Follower growth rate denotes how quickly your follower total is growing over a designated timeframe. This KPI can give you a good idea if your content and posts are attracting followers. Follower growth is calculated in relation to a specific time period either on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

How to Measure: You can calculate your follower growth rate by subtracting the number of followers at the start of a period from the number at the end, then dividing by the initial number, and finally multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

The formula you can use is as follows:

[(Number of current followers – number of followers at start of specified start period) / number of followers at start of specified period] * 100

Here is how you would calculate the follower growth rate for a two-week period. We could say that the number of followers at the start of a specific period is 1000 and after two weeks you have 1500 followers. You would calculate your growth rate for this period as follows:

[(1500-1000) 1000] * 100 = 50% growth rate in your number of followers for this two-week period.

5. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is the percentage of users who click on a link in your post out of the total users who viewed the post. This is an important KPI if you are looking for social media metrics that show how your activities may be generating leads.

How to Measure: CTR can be calculated by dividing the number of clicks a post or ad receives by the number of impressions, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

You can calculate the CTR with this formula:

(Number of Post Clicks / Number of Post Impressions) * 100%

For an example, let’s say a post of yours results in 1000 impressions and 20 clicks. You could calculate your click-through rate for this post as follows:

(20/1000)*100 = 2% click-through rate

6. Post Interaction Rate

Many may equivocate post interaction rate with engagement rate, but these two metrics are differen, although closely relatedt. In this case, post interaction rate calculates user interaction on individual posts and is geared to telling you how well your content resonates with your audience.

How to Measure: Divide the total interactions a post receives by the total reach or impressions of that post, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage. The post interaction shows how active the fans engage with a post on a page. It shows the average amount of all interactions (likes, shares, comments) for each fan per post. As opposed to the Engagement Rate, the post interaction ignores days without any posts.

Our example page has the following metrics that we compile first:

  • Monday: 20 Interactions and 3500 Fans and 2 Posts
  • Tuesday: 0 Interactions and 3590 Fans and 0 Posts
  • Wednesday: 37 Interactions and 3700 Fans and 1 Post
  • Thursday: 100 Interactions and 3750 Fans and 3 Posts
  • Friday: 0 Interactions and 3755 Fans and 1 Post
  • Saturday: 0 Interactions and 3780 Fans and 0 Posts
  • Sunday: 2 Interactions and 3783 Fans and 4 Posts

Now we sum up all interactions by fans for every post and divide it by the amount of posts.

[(20/3500) +  (37/3700) + (100/3750) +  (2/3783)] / (2+1+3+1+4)

= 4.29% Total Interaction Rate/ 10 Posts

= 0.429% average per post

That means, in this timeframe, someone interacted 0.429% of the time with each post on the page.

7. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is a relatively broad term that calculates how often a conversion occurs. However, a conversion can mean a number of different things depending on your goals that ranges from a sale, the filling out of a contact form, a download or sign-up, or some other goal. What makes this KPI so important is that it is needed to calculate the overall return on investment (ROI) that we will discuss soon. 

How to Measure: To calculate your conversion rate for a specific campaign, you simply divide the total number of campaign conversions by the total number of campaign clicks and then multiply by 100.

To measure, you can use this formula: 

(Total Number of Campaign Conversions / Total Number of Campaign Clicks) * 100%

For example, let’s say a campaign leads to 10 conversions out of 80 clicks. Here is how you would calculate your conversion rate:

(10/80) *100 = 12.5% conversion rate.

8. Social Media Referral Traffic

Website referrals from social media activities are an essential metric to track for many social media managers. For the majority of companies and brands, websites are generally where conversions take place, and social media is one way to bring more people to their websites. Social media referral traffic simply reflects the number of users who visit your site by clicking a link included on your social media posts.

How to Measure: The vast majority of social media managers use Google Analytics to collect information on referral traffic from social media. The reason for this lies in the simplicity of tracking this metric for specific time periods across all different channels, as found in Google Analytics.

9. Brand Awareness

Brand awareness basically denotes how widely known your company or brand is and the extent that people are aware of it. However, how does one actually measure this metric? One way is to record the number of mentions of your company or brand across social media channels. This helps gives you an idea of how many people are aware of your company or brand. 

How to Measure: In reality, how to measure brand awareness on social media is relatively straightforward. You can simply add the number of times your brand is mentioned across social media channels in a given day, week, or month. As is the case with many social media channels, you get notified when your company or brand profile is mentioned. 

10. Customer Support Response Time

This KPI measures how quickly your social media or community management teams respond to customer comments, questions, or complaints on your social media channels. It should go without saying that you want to have faster response times, since those generally result in a happier customer base. 

How to Measure: To begin, we first calculate the response time for each user post, and then take the median of all posts for the selected period of time. The median is the value that is exactly in the middle of all values when you sort them. Track the time from when a user comment or message is received to when a response is sent. Many social media platforms provide this data in their analytics.

Here is an example:

Page A from our previous example reacts within the following timeframes:

  • User post 1: response after 10 minutes (0.17h)
  • User post 2: response after 45 minutes (0.75h)
  • User post 3: response after 2 hours (2h)
  • User post 4: response after 20 hours (20h)
  • User post 5: response after 53 minutes (0.88h)

However, you can also determine the medium response time as follows:

  • 0.17h
  • 0.75h
  • 0.88h
  • 2.00h
  • 20.00h

The value in the middle is 0.88h, so the Response Time is 0.88 hours.

If you want to calculate the average response time, simply add all the response times together and divide by the number of responses.

(0.17+0.75+2+20+0.88)/5 = 4.76 hours average response time

Different graphs and a chart about social media performance.

So why might you consider relying more on the medium than the average? In reality, there is a problem in relying solely on the average response time in your KPIs. First, the average is prone to overly represent outliers in the data set. In our example, one post was responded to only after 20 hours, which could have just because that post was made on the weekend when your team wasn’t working. In this case, ff you calculated the average of the values, you would get to 4.76 hours. This is much higher than you would think fair if you looked at the other posts. 

 Note: There are social media tools available that can help you track this easily and provide you with a host of other metrics that can help you make your community management more responsive and efficient.

11. Social Media Ad Metrics

Social media ad metrics refers to a range of events that look at different aspects of your ads’ performance. KPIs include metrics such as cost-per-click, cost per impression, and cost per conversation. Tracking these metrics closely can help you better understand what campaigns are working and providing you with value for your ad spend, and what ones are not. 

How to Measure: The easiest way to track your performance on individual social media platforms is through their ad dashboards. You can also make the calculations yourself as shown below.

Cost per click is measured as follows: (Cost of your Campaign / Total Number of Clicks for that Campaign)

Cost per impression is measured as follows: (Cost of your Campaign / Total Number of Impressions for that Campaign) 

You should note that most of the time this is calculated as cost per 1000 impressions, so you can multiply the cost per impression by 1000. 

Cost per conversion is measured as follows: (Cost of your Campaign / Total Number of Conversions for that Campaign)

On a simple campaign basis, it is relatively easy to measure your ad metrics with the formulas above. However, we should also add that if you are looking to analyze multiple ad campaigns across several different social media channels, then a social media management tool or other type of analytic software programs can be helpful in accurately measuring your ad campaigns.

12. Social Media ROI

Social Media ROI denotes how much revenue you generate from your social media activities. This KPI is essential for understanding the overall effect your efforts have in driving revenue. This metric is different from the social media ad metrics listed above, since it is focused on how your ad spend relates directly to your revenue. 

How to Measure: There may be a lot of questions about how to measure ROI in social media marketing since marketing managers often need to show how their activities are driving revenue. The calculation of your social media ROI is relatively simple if you know what your total spend was and the resulting revenue you generated from those activities. 

Below is the formula you can use to calculate ROI:

[(Revenue Generated from your Social Media Activities – Total Cost of Social Media Campaigns) / Total Cost of Social Media Campaigns] * 100%

For example, let’s say we have run a campaign that generates $2000 with an overall campaign spend of $1500. You would calculate your social media ROI as follows:

[(2000 – 1500) / 1500] * 100% = 33.3% return on investment

Social Media Tools for Social Media KPIs

Above, we gave a detailed overview of a number of important social media KPI metrics and also explained how to calculate them. However, as a social media manager, it is highly probable that you are tracking several different KPIs simultaneously. Simply calculating them manually or checking the dashboards of each one of your social media profiles is inefficient and will not allow you to gain wider insights about how your social media activities are performing. While it is important that you know how various social media KPIs are calculated and what the data is telling you, social media tools have been indispensable in tracking and analyze all your social media profiles. 

With the use of social media tools, calculating, tracking, and analyzing KPIs can be done much more efficiently. Not only does this make analysis and benchmarking more efficient, but you can also acquire important cross channel insights that can help you with your overall social media strategy.

For example, let’s say that you are interested in tracking and analyzing your KPIs for social media engagement. As we showed above, you can relatively easily calculate your engagement rate with a simple formula. However, do your social media engagement rates compare across all your channels and profiles? What type of content that results in the most engagement? And what is the best time to post across channels that result in the highest engagement rates? All these questions can be answered with the use of the analytic features of social media tools.

However, social media tools are not only about tracking and analyzing, but also can be integral for presenting your successes to clients or other stakeholders in your company. Many social media managers need to show reports and data about their efforts. The benefit of using social media tools is that they usually provide various social media KPIs templates for charts and graphs that can help you present your data in clear and persuasive ways.

Of course, social media tools won’t tell you what the most important social media KPIs for your purposes are. After all, we already discussed that the  best KPIs for social media activities depend on what you are trying to accomplish. However, they can provide you with critical insights about how your social media efforts are performing, as well as help you analyze your competitor’s activities. 

A Final Thought: Always Revisit the KPIs you are Tracking

Understanding how your main KPIs for social media are calculated and what they are telling you about your performance is essential for continued monitoring and knowing what and where improvements are required. You track your KPIs so you can make data-driven decisions and to better understand what is working and what is not.

However, you should always look closely at your data and make sure it is helping you achieve your goals. Relatedly, your goals may also evolve based on the overall development of the business. Different business goals may call for different social media approaches and a new set of KPIs. 

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