How to Measure Social Media Success

+ How to Measure Social Media Success
black background with figures

With the increased demand and complexity of social media, measuring success can be a challenge. How do you know if your efforts are paying off? Easy, hire Pastilla to do it for you or read this article.

I will start with the concepts behind the measurements. Then show how they apply across various businesses, content types, users, and priorities. Lastly, I will outline how you should select the actual metrics to focus on.

Main Takeaways

  1. There are two main objectives a business needs to balance for it to sustain and grow; quality & quantity.
  2. Quality should be as good as your competitors or slightly better.
  3. Separate metrics need to be set for various content types.
  4. Not all visitors are the same, so create audiences.
  5. Lower your focus on metrics that provide signals along the conversion path but do not support the primary goals.

Both Quantity and Quality Matter

Social media is always evolving and changing. As soon as you figure one platform out, it changes, or a new one pops-up. However, when you step back and look at the entire social space (or any marketing for that matter), you will realize that they all have a few things in common. They value quality content, and they value a lot of it. Whether small or large, your business will have a much better chance of success if you align your social media metrics to the platform you are using. Provide a lot of relevant/high-quality content.

Often businesses focus purely on volumes (quantity). This is usually because that metric is easy to attain and straightforward to assign direct returns. Ex: 1000 views generate 20 clicks, which generate one sale. This may be cheaper but is short-minded! In a mild case, the marketing efforts will result in marginal KPIs. In more extreme cases, the social channel publishing them (or the business that owns the channel) will be forced to close. A perfect sh**storm happened when Instagram started to measure the quality of post engagement in the summer of 2019. Influencers that didn’t care much about authenticity had their engagement plummet only to recover when they started to focus and deliver actual quality.

Unfortunately, like love and other emotions, quality can’t be purchased. You can’t ask for it, it’s not perceived the same by all people, and those that claimed your brand or message was ‘great’ one day may not feel the same about it the next day. Still, the benefits of attaining these fickle metrics are clear. They are a multiplier of your base quantity metric. Going back to our original funnel example where 1000 views generate one sale. If you improve quality 2x across your funnel, you will get four sales from the same amount of views. Here is the math: 1000 views generate 2×20 clicks, and 40 clicks generate 2×2 sales. There you go four sales. Yes, easy to calculate, hard to do. That is why great marketing and creative shops are so highly prized. They understand how to create it and how to scale it. Please read our guide on how to select the agency that is right for you.

Produce slightly better quality than your competitors

It is a no brainer, if all is equal, a brand with higher quality will outperform the rest. The problem is that on social networks, you are not competing only with your close competitors. You are competing with user’s friends and even the platform itself (

What to create (piece-of-mind vs piece-of-wallet)

A piece of content may do really well on a given social platform yet generate no value to your business. That does not classify as a winning or sustainable social media success. Does that mean that the content or social platform it’s on is not the right fit for your business? Not exactly; it only means that your business goals are different from the goals of the social platform, and that is completely fine. Assuming that you will not rework your business strategy, which is an option but I will not get into that here, you have to find the right balance between those two, a right ‘social content mix’. That is what will allow you to succeed.

Here is what aaaaall social networks want. They want to keep the users on their platform. A perfect example is Instagram, which has only one place with an external link (the profile). All other links are not clickable or require you to pay Instagram.

In opposition to that, your business most likely needs to bring users to the site so that you can drive views, drive leads, or drive sales. Whatever the action is, you are taking the user away from the social platform and they do not like that.

This means that you need to find a good balance between the two. On one side of the mix, you have the content that keeps users engaged on the network so that the platform likes it and shows it to a wide audience. This is what I call a piece of a user’s mind. The users are exposed to the amazing content your brand offers and remember you when they consume it.

On the other side of the mix you have content that drives the user to take action(s) needed for your business to flourish. Think of these as a piece of a user’s wallet. This is pretty self-explanatory.

I will note that each side of the mix can be further sliced into three content types: cheap content like comments from the brand as well as users, fairly priced content like articles or images, and expensive content like edited videos. However, the cost vs impact metrics usually balance out over time, so I will skip going into these.

Surfacing up, to find the balance of piece-of-mind and piece-of-wallet, look again at your competition and what other businesses do on the platform. Watch how your engagement metrics impact conversions. If engagement is dropping, increase the amount of content that drives it. If it’s improving, work in content that drives your conversions. Or take the quick route and pay the platform to show your content. If you are on Facebook, take a look at that lets you completely automate your post boosting.

Shiny happy people

If this is not enough, here is another dimension to deem your social media success; audiences. Google uses this simple rule to maximize its success in ads. I found it interesting and think you may find it relevant and beneficial as well.

Essentially, google breaks down it’s audience into the following four groups:

  • Past happy users – a user that has experienced your brand and was happy with the result
  • New happy users – a user that may have experienced a similar brand and is happy to try yours
  • Past unhappy users – a user that has experienced your brand and was unhappy with the results.
  • New unhappy users – a user that does not want to experience your brand

They will advertise to the first three groups and save their money and time by excluding the last one. Why? They know that they would spend too much money trying to convert the 4th group and in the end they would not try the brand or try it only for a short period of time.

What is the lesson here? To maximize the opportunity social media presents, you need to create content not only for the happy clients but also help the unhappy clients. Open up, listen, answer their needs. You can do that directly on your social profile or create a segment of the audience where you share content that details the various issues and shows how to solve them.

You don’t have to use the google breakdown. Go back to the sales funnel concept and separate your content to new users (those that may have experienced but have never visited your brand) and past users (those that may not have converted but have experienced your brand and are interested in more details).

Whatever breakdown you use, your metrics need to reflect it because the content for past users will have significantly less reach but a much bigger impact on your success. Ignoring it or trying to serve the same content to various audiences will make your brand feel superficial or out of touch, and you don’t want that.

What NOT to Focus On

We covered quality vs quantity, piece-of-mind vs piece-of-wallet, happy vs unhappy, what’s left? Always focus on the final goal. Every action you take and every effort you make needs to strive to have a positive impact on the final goal.

That is not to say you should include secondary metrics. I highly recommend that you track and report metrics that provide signals along the conversion path even if they don’t measure the end goal itself. They provide extra details and help you render a better overall picture of the chances you have reaching your final goal.

The problem comes when these secondary metrics over-power or become the only items on the report. If you start to focus primarily on the secondary metrics, you may get really good at reaching them but most likely at the expense of the final goal. In other words, focusing on the secondary metrics will lead to incorrect decisions that will hurt your business.

Read $100k in a lost business – inside story to get more details about this. If you found this article helpful, comment, like or share it.