Three Ways to Measure Social Engagement that Aren’t Likes or Retweets

On the surface, social media metrics are pretty straightforward. Click the thumbs-up icon if you “like” something, hit “retweet” if you want your followers to see something particularly interesting, tap the heart icon if you see an Instagram photo that’s particularly gorgeous.

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While companies should keep track of these measurements, you have the ability to go much deeper with your social media metrics. Instead of constantly refreshing your social media profiles in hopes of a red, blue, or orange notification in your toolbar, consider devoting more time to analyzing social media engagement using these measurements:

1. Reach

Think likes on your Facebook page, followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, views/subscribers on your YouTube channel, and visitors to your blog. As a measure of potential audience size, reach helps you understand how far your content is actually going once you hit “post.”

While it’s nice to know how many eyes are scrolling through your Facebook updates, reach becomes a more valuable metric when you do some simple math to use reach to measure engagement. Choose an action or engagement number that’s important to your company’s social media goals (such as retweets), and divide that number by reach to calculate your engagement percentage.

For example: if you have 4,973 followers on Twitter, and one of your tweets gets 168 retweets, your engagement percentage is 168/4,973, or 3.4%. Now, you know that out of the entire possible audience for your campaign, 3.4% of people participated, giving you a better context for your engagement metrics.

You can also use this reach/engagement measurement to set goals for your social media campaigns. For example, maybe you want each tweet to have a 3% engagement rate or raise Facebook engagement to 5% per post.

 2. Influence

I like to think of this as the “Would Regina George talk about this at her cafeteria table?” metric of social media measurement. That is, you may be putting your message out there, but are people with influence picking up on your message and talking about it themselves- and if so, what kind of impact do these people have on their audience?

One important thing to recognize is that audience size isn’t necessarily positively correlated with influence. Someone with a lot of followers may not be able to compel their followers to complete an action. For example, think about a Twitter account that may tweet out inspirational quotes a few times a day to 12,000 followers. Would you want this account to tweet about your brand? Probably not, because the followers of this Twitter account wouldn’t recognize this account as an authority on your industry and are probably accustomed to skimming a quote and scrolling right past it, rather than using the quote as a catalyst for action. Unless, of course, your company produces inspirational-quote-of-the-day desk calendars!

You can measure your own social influence by using tools like Klout and PeerIndex, and you can also use BuzzSumo to find influencers in your industry and your area- this is also a great tool for conducting outreach.

3. Conversions

You can tweet about your latest promotions or post a quick video to Facebook showing off your latest product, but unless you can measure how many conversions these social media promotions lead to, you’re throwing darts with a blindfold on.

To fix this, institute campaign tracking in your social media efforts. First, build trackable links to use in each of your social media posts using Google’s URL builder (you may need to use a URL shortening service to make your links shorter, like Bitly). Then, use Google Analytics and set up goal tracking to keep track of your online conversions like downloads, registrations, and more. Now, you’ll be able to monitor your conversions and link them back to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can determine your ROI.

Likes and retweets are fun to get, but make sure not to focus solely on those measurements. By including reach, influence, and conversions in your social media metrics, you’ll be able to get a more complete picture of your how your audience is reacting to and engaging with the content you put on your social media channels.