Social Media is a recurring topic of discussion with a major focus on Social Analytics. Marketers have delved into the subject numerous times and often become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of content shared on Social channels. A major cause for concern is being able to discern valuable and relevant insights from all the “noise”. In this previous post, I talked about identifying metrics that can be acted upon and could translate into business, but how do you identify these metrics?

By now most marketers are aware of the various vanity metrics and are beginning to focus on metrics that would increase customer engagement. Gone are the days wherein Social Media campaigns are only measured by the quantity of likes, or retweets. Although these metrics are still important, and can offer a summary about your campaign, they tend to lack visibility when it comes to brand listening, and customer interactions. So how do you move past the metrics that seem to lack depth and tackle metrics that provide actionable insights? What metrics other than fans/followers or number of posts/tweets are relevant for a brand, which measures true impact to a business?

We asked this question to various experts and received a great response. The common theme that seemed to originate from the various responses pointed towards Engagement. Below is a list of metrics that are relevant and important to a brand in the Social landscape:

Social Media: What metrics are relevant for a brand?

Image Source: MDG Advertising

1. Suzy Gray, Director of Social Media at Internet Marketing Ninjas – @IMNinjaSuzy

Many companies are fixated on the number of likes/followers that their social networks have, but those numbers aren’t always an accurate measure of social authority. Businesses should be looking at things like engagement to really gauge their social influence. Are people leaving intelligent comments on your Facebook posts? Are influential people or customers retweeting you on Twitter? If all your posts fall on deaf ears, you need to seriously evaluate your social media strategy. Services like Klout and Facebook Insights provide helpful metrics to determine whether your engagement strategy is effective.

2. David Bakke, Writer for Money Crashers – @MoneyCrashers

In addition to the number of fans and followers (and posts and tweets), the most important other social media metric to track is which websites your traffic comes from. If you have 20,000 followers but you don’t know whether they’re coming to your site from Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it will be very difficult to adjust your social strategy going forward. It’s important to track this metric on a monthly basis so you can focus your social media efforts on where you’re getting the most traffic.

3. Chris Lierman, Senior Director of Consumer Insights at GMR Marketing – @GMRMarketing

Ultimately, it’s consumer opinion of a brand that’s going to most influence purchasing decisions. Are your products and services well liked, or just your Facebook page? You’ve got to read the data and do your research. Find out what people really think of your brand, programs, offerings and products and then make changes and grow accordingly. Witty posts, compelling photos and lots of social engagement are great, but they’ll only get you so far.

4. Lindsey Madison, CPO and Co-founder at HipLogiq – @HipLogiq

Creating awareness for your brand is easier than ever before with the help of social media websites. But it’s equally important to engage with your followers rather than just posting a status update and hoping for the best. Consider the following metrics when measuring a brand’s true impact on its followers. To ensure you’re met your mark, look for retweets, favorites and @replies as great indicators of effectiveness. Additionally, tracking lead generation from a landing page (link shared within the tweet, eBook or blog) is a good representation of success.

5. Kristin Muhlner, CEO at newBrandAnalytics – @kmuhlner

Cost of Inactivity (COI). Imagine that within one year, 492 of your hotel’s online reviews stated the reviewer will not return to your establishment, and 123 reviews showed the reviewer would not recommend your hotel. In that one year, you stand to lose $392,063. (We calculated it for costs of $125, but you can plug in your own number here.)

According to Nielsen, 70% of potential customers trust consumer opinions posted online – the only reviews they trust more are from friends. On average, an online review influences five new customer decisions, making the potential cost of losing new business due to inactivity $1,960,315.

6. Anees Merchant, SVP of Digital Analytics and Social Media at BlueOcean Market Intelligence – @blueoceanmi

Social media channels have matured in the last two years, as well as their usage and integration in broader organization strategies. Moving away from basic metrics to more action and result-oriented metrics and KPIs is key. These action and result-oriented metrics are based on the organization strategies around how social channels are integrated in the broader strategic goals. For example, Net Sentiments, Sales/Lead Generated, Customer Acquired, Customer Attrition Prevention, Campaign Buzz Index, etc. are some of the key metrics.

7. Grace Northem, Senior Manager of Public Relations at Sparxoo – @Sparxoo

At Sparxoo, a digital marketing and branding agency, our other measure that is relevant to our brand, and our clients’ brands, is social media monitoring. Monitoring is important because we can learn more about what content is particularly interesting or enticing to the target audience. With Google Analytics, we can setup advanced segments to learn how visitors from social media interact with the website– which then contributes to our content marketing strategy. Aligned with this metric is engagement, which impacts loyal, social referrals, and SEO.

8. Morgan Brown, Co-founder of Full Stack Marketing – @morganb

Aside from the total number of fans/followers or posts/tweets, the two most important metrics I track for social engagement are traffic back to the site and key conversions from social traffic. You can measure these using Google Analytics—look at First Touch Interactions in Multi-Channel Funnel Attribution, as well as the Assisted Conversions report. These metrics help you to understand how users interact with your site—especially where they’re coming from and which sources (including social) are most valuable—which is the real the key to getting to bottom line ROI.

9. Erin Cushing, Social Media Manager at inSegment Inc. – @inSegment

Quality can be more important than quantity on social media, especially for brands looking to increase sales or conversions online. Having a small, highly active audience that shares and engages with your content is better than a huge amount of indifferent followers; that small audience is more likely to be interested in your business and more likely to become customers.

10. Reed Daw, SEO Associate at – @Reed_Daw

Tracking your brands share of voice (SOV) is extremely important and impactful. SOV means seeing who’s talking about your brand, when they are talking about it and where. Discover online sentiment for your brand so you can embrace positive mentions and avoid negative mentions. Tracking SOV is also very helpful when discovering the percent of mentions your competitors are receiving. See specific buzz topics surrounding your competitors to ensure your brand surpasses your competitor’s efforts. There are many free tools available to track SOV like SocialMention and RivalIQ.

A very important brand metric for social media is referral traffic. This is the amount of followers that travel from your social to business website. Google Analytics is a free tool to do just that. Click on the Traffic Sources menu in GA and look for referrals. GA provides lots of important data like which exact pages your social followers are landing on and the average time people spent on these pages. Develop strategies around these metrics to tailor your social pages for maximum referral traffic.

11. Lisa McTigue, Co-Founder of Social Calendar – @bylisamctigue

Engagement is an actionable measurement that businesses need to analyze. Engagement tells a business what their audience likes to read and is willing to share. More importantly it gives the business a deeper understanding of their target audience, while also being an awareness campaign to non-fans. Additionally, the business will be able to track the types of content that are triggers for conversion. Any measurement that allows a business to evolve and refine their social media with an action plan improves the businesses’ social media campaign.

12. Chris Grant, Director of Analytics at Enlighten – @cgrantski

Social media managers working on behalf of a company tend to measure success three ways:
– Exposure (posts, views of them i.e. “eyeballs”) (two versions of exposure: direct (saw your post or tweet) and indirect (saw it on somebody else’s page because the other person saw it and spread it by reposting, retweeting)

– Engagement: (do people seeing the post actually take action, by retweeting, liking, thumbs up, answering, clicking on a link)

– Important actions: (do people go from social media to your actual website and then click around or, better yet, sign up for something)

13. Ross Hudgens, Founder of Siege Media – @rosshudgens

– Conversation rate, which is the number of comments or replies that you receive per post

– Amplification rate, which is the number of Retweets or Shares that you receive per post

– Applause rate, which is the number of Favorites, Likes or +1s that you receive per post

– Economic value, which is the sum of the short & long term revenue and cost savings generated by each visitor from social channels.

14. Lisa Parkin, President at Social Climber – @lisamparkin

Businesses should examine the quality of their engagement. One easy way to measure this is to look at an average post. How many people have liked it, shared it or commented on it? You can look at one of those numbers or add all three. Then divide that number by the total number of fans and multiply by 100. So, if 500 people liked your Facebook post, and you have 50,000 fans then your engagement score for that post is 1 percent. The average engagement for posts is between .01 to 1 percent. This score is one indicator to see on average how successful social media posts are with followers.

15. Dr. Susanna Gebauer, CEO of exploreB2B – @dreckbaerfrau

The numbers to monitor depend on the goals you pursue with the social activities. Often it is not possible to gain reliable data for all important factors and have to make do with alternatives giving the best indication for what you seek.

What counts first are the goals of your business – your social media strategy goals should be defined through these. The KPIs vary by these goals: If you want more traffic on your site, monitor the traffic. If you want brand awareness, measure mentions, interactions, etc. If you want leads, sales and registrations, than these are your KPIs.

16. Laurie Morse-Dell, Personal Branding and Social Media Coach – @lmdell

The best way to measure the true impact of social media is to determine the actual conversion to sales versus customers coming from non-social media leads. This can be done much easier than most businesses are aware of simply by using Google Analytics goal funnels. First you want to measure how many leads are visiting your web site (where the potential to convert to sales is) and their source (social or non). Then you want to keep track of how much more/less do visitors coming from social media spend over time on your site. A long lasting customer is obviously much more valuable than a one time customer. This will tell you the true value or impact to your business.

17. Jason Lyvers, Chief Dreaming Officer at Louisville Innovative – @502innovative

For us, one of the most important metrics is how many people actually engage with us via commenting. When people are open to a conversation, they’re open to eventually trusting you, which is a prime component for someone becoming a client. Commenting takes more effort and thought on someone’s part than any other engagement activity, and so monitoring what content we share actually elicits this response is extremely important to us, especially when the comments come from someone other than an industry peer.

18. Danielle M. Miller, Brand Strategist for Women Entrepreneurs – @daniellemmiller

Responding to your query about social engagement for brands. One of the most important metrics to measure is brand engagement. That is the degree in which your audience is engaging in conversation and passing your content through social media channels. In conjunction with engagement is measuring and tracking what type of content is being shared. Looking closely at your messages and the way they are being consumed (through video, surveys, google + hangouts, etc.) is another important branding metric.

19. Brandon Evans, CEO and Founder of crowdtap – @crowdtap

Marketers should be looking beyond vanity metrics like fans/followers and to the level of advocacy consumers have for their brand. Net Promoter Score (how likely is someone to recommend my brand) is a great measure of this as it shows the brands the level to which consumers are promoting vs. detracting from their brand. This can be obtained both via pre/post polling as well as via services that measure it through social conversations

20. Andrew Contreras, CMO at – @Drew_Contre

Past marketing campaigns have shown us that Engagement is a far more revealing metric than quantity of followers/fans. Engagement can be measured in the form of shares and comments that your followers post on your blog, fan page, or website. You should be constantly asking yourself “do our followers fit the profile of people interested in our brand?” If your brand identity and follower demographic are aligned, increasing engagement is easier, and engaged users are more primed to be buyers of your brand. This also means you should know your ideal customer profile like you know your mom.

21. Debbie Miller, Founder of Social Hospitality – @TheBigDebowski

Beyond the number of fans/followers or number of posts/tweets, other important social metrics would include reach/impressions, sentiment (i.e. if what people are saying about your brand is positive or negative), as well as website traffic from social networks. If you send out 20 tweets/week but a small number of people actually see them, it’d be time to re-think the strategy and determine how to better achieve ROI. On the contrary, if there are a lot of people talking about your brand but it’s because they’re complaining, then that wouldn’t be good either, despite how high your reach may be.

22. Tasha Mayberry, President of Social Media 22, LLC – @SMMSEO22

– Reach: The number of unique people who saw your content.

– PTAT – The number of “people talking about this” calculated by certain actions (likes, comments, etc.):

*PTAT number is only for last 7 days.

– Virality: number of people who created a story from your post divided by the number of people who have seen it.

– Referral Traffic: Use Google Analytics to see how much traffic is generated by different social media sites.

– Conversion Rate: It’s important to get traffic to your site but it’s more important to transform leads into sales. Using Google Analytics, measure the number of conversions generated on your site by visitors from different social media websites.

23. Douglas Karr, CEO of DK New Media – @douglaskarr

– “Share of voice” compared to our like-sized competitors to ensure we continue to maintain the spotlight.

– Number of qualified leads. These are businesses with budget and an open opportunity to do business with us.

– Revenue per conversion. This is an indicator of how relevant our leads are.

– Conversions and Total Revenue.

24. Valerie Reddemann, Director of Marketing at Synmedia – @grndiva

I always go back to the goal of the client. If it’s to help increase engagement and brand loyalty, posts would likely include blog entries, video, etc. to encourage people to talk and interact. Metrics may include visits to a blog (Google analytics), downloads or other “call to action”. It may be redemptions of Facebook offers or entries to online contesting. All are ways in which clients can measure impact of their messaging.

If they’re looking to guide social interactions to an end goal of sales, posts may include downloads for white papers, a webinar or other valuable information providing the company permission to reach out to the customers via email or phone. For retailers it may be a link to redeem a coupon or become a member for future offers. This type of content, peppered with other more fun lifestyle content can be used to help take social from one platform and move it to another more lucrative platform measuring the audiences response along the way.

25. Cynthia Coffield, Director of Web Optimization at PLS Inc. – @PLS_Web

The most important metric for a brand, the one that the CEO really wants to hear about, is Social ROI (Return on Investment). This refers to the number of people who go to the website through social media posts and complete the checkout process. I attribute value to social media from 2 metrics: 1) last interaction – shopping cart completions where the visitor came directly from a social site and 2) assisted conversions – shopping cart completions where the visitor came to the website through social media and returned through other sources like google before finally checking out.

We are also interested in the quality of the social media traffic. I find that visitors referred by LinkedIn spend much more time on our website and visit far more pages than the average visitor. Twitter visitors have a similar pattern.

26. Kara Drinkard, Social Media and Marketing Manager at Bill4Time – @karadrink

Engagement is an often overlooked but important metric for brands to pay attention to. Having a large number of followers looks good to some execs, but what good are followers if they’re not engaging with your content? You could have 100k fans, but if none of them are paying attention to your content, your message is not fully being heard. Engagement is important because it drives up your rank in the Facebook News Feed algorithm and also affects your ranking on search engines – especially on Google+. Interactions are what generate stories in the newsfeeds of the friends of your fans.

27. Blake Jamieson, Director of Social Media at 30MilesNorth – @blakejamieson

These days, fans and followers are vanity metrics. Not only can they be purchased very cheaply, they also have no correlation to what really matters for business – ROI. The most important metric to measure is sales generated. A ‘sale’ might mean different things for different businesses. E-commerce is pretty straightforward (and easy to measure), but sometimes a ‘sale’ might be an app download (even if it’s free), a membership signup, or capturing an email address.

Beyond tracking ROI, which I prefer to measure with unique coupon codes or referral tracking in URL link, I like to keep an eye on negative engagements. Every week, I will export Facebook insights to check if there was a particular post that caused multiple people to ‘unlike’ or ‘unfollow’ my client’s page. If I see that a particular type of post causes negative engagement, I will adjust the content strategy accordingly.

28. Brad Hines, Founder of YumDomains and HungryKids – @BradHines

Matt Cutts and the Google crew have announced as part of their many updates to Google’s search algorithm, that something important now in addition to previously isn’t just the number of followers, or ratio of views to shares; but as well, now Google is putting more precedence on shares from people with higher following counts. Google is measuring the weight of the share your article gets.

So in other words, if your article gets shared on Google plus by someone in 50 circles, and someone in 5000, Google considers it more substantial that your article was shared by someone with 5000 followers as it suggests someone who is an authority found you to be an authority as well.

29. Anna Villarreal, President and Founder of Anna Shoe Agency – @VillarrealAnna

My marketing company, Anna Shoe Agency, uses hits to a specific page on a website to measure impact of a marketing campaign. For example, one of my client’s, EYESPOT, we had their charitable giving initiative stamped on coffee sleeves with the website to track how many people showed an interest.

30. Matthew Zajechowski, Outreach Manager at Digital Third Coast – @savard1120

I think brands need to track and measure if their social media efforts are leading to business leads and sales. You want to be sure to measure click-through rates and conversions to each activity in Google analytics. This way you can see which efforts are actually providing results. I think it’s also important to monitor if people are interacting with your social media efforts. You can share great content, but if nobody is interacting with it, was the investment really worth it? After all social media is all about user interaction and sharing.

Please share any metrics you think are important for a brand in the comment section below.