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  • Writer's picturePeter DiSilvio

What Metrics Can You Count on?

Many of the big social media giants give their users access to a wide variety of tools to assess their own audiences. However, which metrics are useful and which are a waste of time? Read on for a list of the 12 metrics to consider when monitoring your digital footprint.

Useful! Reach

Reach is a measure of the number of people who see content you post on social media. This is a number you should track and monitor very closely. If you see certain kinds of messaging or content leads to a spike in views than you may want to repeat or reuse whatever you did to elicit the reaction. Conversely, if you notice less people seeing your content when you post certain pictures or text than you know it is time to change course.

Useful! Audience Growth Rate

William Seward Burroughs II, an American writer and visual artist, was credited as saying "When you stop growing you start dyin". Your Audience Growth Rate shows, as the name implies, how your audience is growing or contracting. While this metric may not tell you how to continue growth or prevent contraction it will tell you what is happening. You cannot fix a problem if you are not aware of its existences.

Useful! Engagement Rate

"Engagement rates are metrics that track how actively involved with your content your audience is. Engaged consumers interact with brands through “likes” comments and social sharing. The engagement rate is a metric often used in analyzing the efficacy of brand campaigns" [1]. In order to create the kind of relationship you want with your followers you need to be something always on the end of their conscious mind like a neighbor or coworker they see every day. By fostering this relationship you will earn the users loyalty with little effort.

Useful! Cost-Per-Click

If you have ever run a Google Adwords campaign you know just how important the cost-per-click ratio is. This metric tracks the impact of every advertising dollar you spend on social media. Hemorrhaging money is no way to run a business or a campaign. If you see the cost-per-click increasing you need to determine the cause and take action to further your goals.

Useful! Response Time

The Response Time is the average time it takes to reply to a message [2] as opposed to the response rate which is the percentage indicating how many messages you answer out of the total amount you receive. This number is important firstly because you always want to be seen as responsive online in order to foster the kind of relationship with the user that can be beneficial later. Secondly, if you are working with a team or assistants it is important to track whether their response time is in line with your standards.

Useful! Number of Followers and Likes

The more followers you have, the larger your audience. The more likes you have, the most your audience is enjoying and interacting with your content. This is the most basic of social media metrics and should not be taken for granted. More than any other metric, ratio, or percentage, this one tells you about the health and impact of your digital footprint.

Useful! Referrals

Referrals are how a user lands on your website. In web analytics, you’ll see them broken down into sources [3]. Knowing your audience and what is driving it is incredibly important. If an ad or partnership with a certain site is yielding large dividends you may want to strengthen that relationship. Conversely, if you are paying money for an influencer to promote your brand and it isn't driving traffic it may be time to 'cut bait'. The only way to know how to behave is to know as much as possible.

Skip it! Impressions

Impressions are the number of times something you put online is viewed. The reason I list this as a skip it is because, firstly, I don't trust the tech giants on this one. It is the easiest number to effect, perhaps they set the amount of time someone needs to view something to less than a second to count, and doesn't relate to any active thought on behalf of your users. Since you only have so many hours in the day and so much mental bandwidth to put toward social media, why waste it on a metric that is not particularly useful?

Skip it! Click Through Rates

"CTR is the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown: clicks ÷ impressions = CTR. For example, if you had 5 clicks and 100 impressions, then your CTR would be 5%" [4]. Much like impressions, click through rate falls to the side as a metric when thinking about your time economically. Other metrics will let you know what your online advertisements are doing be it driving web traffic or attractive new followers. Only if you notice an issue with these other, more important, metrics should you concern yourself with Click Through Rates.

Skip it! Average Time Spent on The Page

While it can be useful to see how much time on average users spend on your page, I don't find the metric particularly important. We want to use our time to see what is driving conversation and generating traffic, not the effects of those factors. Average time spent on the page is a lagging indicator behind other metrics and should therefore be set aside.

Skip it! Response Rate

As discussed above, response rate is is the percentage indicating how many messages you answer out of the total amount you receive. This is going to sound silly but you know this information instinctively or, at least, you should. You know whether you respond to your followers or not. You know whether you actually engage. If you don't know how often you do it means you are not going it enough!

Skip it! Top Contributor - Who Engages the Most

I'm sure a well informed marketer can come up with a use for the top contributor statistic but I just can't see it. A single person does not necessarily reflect demographics or shifts in a user base. If anything this individual tends to be a digital Yes-Man who is such a superfan of whomever or whatever they are following that they will blindly support everything you put out. In my experience this tends to be family members or loved ones of the politician or business owner of the page I am managing which, while sweet, is not necessarily helpful.


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