It is systematic for every Digital Strategist, the customer asks how the communication strategy of the company or brand is performing and a simple summary will not be enough. To effectively measure the success of a brand on social media networks, only the data speak for themselves and this is where the KPIs come into play.
The KPIs, in full Key Performance Indicators, are the indicators at the basis of the Data Analysis that enable you to measure in detail the performance of certain digital activities, thus allowing them to be defined or modulated according to needs.
They are fundamental concepts, yet very often they are treated in a superficial and abstract way. There are rules in the definition of KPIs.
To be credible, thus allowing the definition of valid objectives, KPIs must first of all follow the well-known SMART rule (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound). To verify that you are really following this rule, just ask yourself some simple questions.
- Do I have a specific goal?
- Is its progress measurable?
- Is this an achievable and therefore realistic goal?
- In what time frame can I reach it?
What does it mean? It means that the objectives must be concrete, any abstract idea must be left aside. If the expected results are not specific or realistic then they are not measurable and consequently neither will the KPIs.
The "price to pay" to see your campaign give the desired effects is the analysis of the main metrics. Therefore it is essential to know the answer to the previous questions.
Another important rule to follow is that, once a timeline for achieving the objectives has been defined, the update frequency needs to be agreed and maintained. It should not be forgotten that the set of metrics is extensive and that the cost to monitor them is high, therefore it is necessary to set up the update process in a valid way. An efficient case is to have indicators updated once a month or every three.
The number of KPIs is very large and only a few are indispensable to analyze. The key thing when defining them is to divide them into categories.
The Brand Awareness KPIs aim to increase the number of people who know the brand, to get recognizable, to stand out.
Reach: the reach shows the number of unique users reached by a given post.
Impressions: impressions indicate the number of times users have been exposed to a content.
Followers: the number of followers shows how many people think your business is worth following.
Audience growth rate: followers go hand in hand with the audience growth rate, which verify how constantly new potential customers are attracted.
Social media KPIs measure the quality of interactions with their followers.
Like: likes indicate the number of followers who interact with a post by clicking the like button.
Clicks: clicks indicate how many times the URLs have been clicked.
Comments: comments indicate the number of times followers comment on a post.
Amplification rate: represents the number of times a post has been shared.
Engagement rate: takes into account all interactions (like, comments, add to favorites, shares) with respect to the number of followers or with respect to reach.
Social media KPIs are part of that category of indicators also called "vanity metrics". The common opinion on vanity metrics is that they are useless, but we must remember that this depends solely on how they are interpreted. A large number of followers, monitored alone, is really useless. In fact, it does not mean that these are quality followers: they could be silent or worthless either in terms of engagement or sales. The number of followers must be compared with other KPIs, within a strategy with precise objectives. This can only be done with a specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound purpose.
This type of KPIs reflect the effectiveness of the strategy since they give us the opportunity to know how many interactions have actually turned into the desired CTA (Call to Action), such as visits to the site or landing page, newsletter subscriptions, purchases.
CTR (Click-through rate): indicates the percentage of people who viewed the post and clicked on the CTA. It gives us insight into whether the content grabs the audience's attention and inspires them to take action or not.
Conversion rate: measures how many, among the various clicks received, have generated a conversion.
Bounce rate: represents the percentage of visitors who clicked on the link and then quickly left the page, without taking any action. Indicates whether the user experience provided was sufficiently effective or not.
CPC: Cost per Click is the amount paid for each single click on the post. CPC measures whether the amount you are spending for your campaign represents a worthwhile investment.
CPM: Cost per Mille indicates the amount paid each time 1,000 people view the post. Since the quantity, and not the quality of contacts, plays a fundamental role then the latter will be more useful in brand awareness-oriented campaigns, while CPC in conversion-oriented ones.
Once you know the KPIs to monitor, you need to measure their success. To be able to do this, you need suitable tools. The existing tools are numerous so we will divide them into the native ones, which are provided to us directly by the social platforms, and the external ones.
All major platforms offer basic solutions to monitor performance. They are integrated, free, easy-to-use solutions that can be the right option for social media managers who keep track of KPIs only for a few accounts and do not require in-depth analysis. Some of the solutions offered by these platforms are very often incomplete. We are talking about: Instagram Insights, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, LinkedIn Analytics, YouTube Analytics, and so on.
In addition to the integrated ones, there are various tools (free or paid) which, using the social API codes, allow us to monitor the various KPIs. Among these, the most effective are paid.
A tool like Hootsuite makes reporting simple, intuitive and efficient. This well-known tool analyzes all the performance of all social channels in a single dashboard and then organizes them into complete, customizable and easy-to-understand reports, ready to be downloaded in CSV, PowerPoint, PDF or Excel format and presented.
Another great tool for cross-channel social media analysis is definitely Sprout Social. Like Hootsuite, also Sprout offers all-in-one solutions, allowing you to analyze the performance of a single social network or compare the results of multiple networks, while offering extras, such as CRM.
One of the most famous paid Social Media Analytics tools, with a lower cost than previous competitors, is definitely Iconosquare. Iconosquare allows you to simultaneously monitor multiple platforms (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tik Tok and Twitter) offering a very interesting analysis of Instagram Stories too, a feature that certainly makes the difference.
Another excellent tool, one of the most used and long-lived, is Socialbakers. Through a single customizable dashboard, this tool offers a complete analysis of content performance, providing accurate information related to individual posts, as well as interesting news on audience characteristics and forecasts on successful posts.
UTMs are not a real tool, but they are essential for setting up Google Analytics. They are short bits of texts added to links and disseminated on social media networks. By monitoring them we will be able to track the number of people who interact with the contents, being directed to the website. Therefore you can see where your traffic is coming from.