16 Social Media Metrics That Matter in 2021

Is your social media marketing strategy working? How do you know? If you're still just tracking vanity metrics like followers, likes, and pageviews, we've got some bad news for you. While those social media metrics are great to make you feel good, they aren't the best indicator of an effective social media strategy. To get the best results from your social media efforts, there are much better metrics you should be tracking. In this article, we'll share the 16 social media metrics you'll need to start tracking now along with key insights into the social media marketing funnel, and some real talk about why those vanity metrics aren't all they're cracked up to be. 

16 Social Media Metrics to Track for Best Results:

The Social Media Marketing Funnel

Before we get deep into the social media metrics we recommend that you start tracking, it's important to understand the social media marketing funnel. Why? Because these metrics fall neatly into the funnel. The metrics and funnel together can help you understand where your marketing funnel is performing well and where it's breaking down. Our funnel consists of four key stages in the buyer journey:

  • Awareness. You'll use awareness/reach metrics to figure out how your social media strategy is performing for your potential audience.
  • Engagement. Engagement metrics will let you know if (and how) your audience is interacting with your social media content.
  • Conversion. Using the conversion social media metrics we've included, you'll be able to understand if your content is converting the way you need it to so you can make adjustments as necessary.
  • Customer. We all know it's more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing customer, so knowing how your existing customers feel about your brand and the content you're sharing is vital to maximizing your marketing budget.

Why Social Media Metrics Matter

Social media metrics are KPIs (key performance indicators) that help you understand how effective your social media marketing strategy is. Tracking these important metrics can help you reach your marketing goals, connect with your audience, create better content, and generate more sales and leads. Here are some of the ways social media metrics can help you stay on top of your social media marketing efforts:

  • See the big picture. Social media can involve thousands of interactions, making it difficult to see the effect of your social media campaigns when you're in them. Having access to reporting and analytics can help you understand your performance better and give you the freedom and knowledge you need to make changes in the moment.
  • Find your baseline. While you can always check your social media numbers against industry standards, tracking your metrics gives you a much better understanding of how you're performing from one minute to the next, using your own performance history as a guide.
  • Set goals. Tracking social media metrics helps you set goals for your marketing campaigns because you have better knowledge about the time and resources that go into getting the results your metrics are showing.
  • Act fast. Social media changes quickly. If you're not on top of your metrics, you might respond too late to reduce the negative attention you're getting from an unhappy customer or miss out on a chance to leverage the virality of a post.

Why Vanity Metrics Don't Help

It's true: vanity metrics feel good. When you get more followers, likes, retweets, and pageviews, it can feel like you're really onto something with this social media marketing thing. But those metrics don't really tell you how effective your marketing campaigns are at doing what you really want them to do, which is to convert, right? Vanity metrics are fine to track and can sound impressive, but it's more important to dig deeper into what is behind those vanity metrics. Did your followers increase because your reach increased or did you just get an influx of bots? Did you get all of those new likes and faves from people who are interested in your brand and products or other people who are just trying to build up their own numbers?

You want to make important marketing decisions based on data and evidence, not something as fickle as a follow.

16 Social Media Metrics to Track

All of the top social media platforms have built-in analytics that are free for creators to use. However, we highly recommend investing in a social media analytics tool that will let you pull data from multiple networks so you're not stuck going into each platform to run reports that then need to be aggregated into a single report if you want to know how your social media marketing is doing across platforms. In this section, you'll find the different social media metrics that your analytics tool should be able to track for you.

Reach Metrics

1 . Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is the attention that your brand gets across social media platforms. This could be mentions, shares, links, impressions, and more. To track brand awareness, you'll need to decide on the metrics you want to be tied to your brand awareness and apply those metrics consistently across whatever time period you're looking at. Attention metrics are things like time spent, actions taken, and reactions.

2. Audience Growth Rate

As you can probably guess, audience growth rate is the rate at which your brand is gaining followers on social media. The trick here isn't to measure how many new followers but to instead measure how fast you accrued new followers and if you outpaced your competitors. To calculate audience growth rate, tally your net new followers over a specific period, and then divide those net new followers by your total audience. Then, multiply by 100 to get your audience growth rate percentage.

3. Post Reach

Social Media Schedulers can greatly enhance your ability to optimize post reach. Post reach lets you know how many people have seen your content since it was published. This tells you if you're posting your content at the right time and if your audience is finding that content useful. Calculate post reach by measuring post reach divided by your total number of followers and multiply by 100 to get the post reach percentage.

4. Social Share of Voice (SSoV)

Social Share of Voice tells you how many people are talking about your brand on social media as compared to your competitors. Mentions can be direct, with consumers using your social media handle to tag your brand, or indirect, where users just mention your name without tagging you. Social Share of Voice is important because it lets you know how visible your brand is. You can calculate it by tabulating the sum of your own mentions—direct and indirect—and the mentions of your competitors to get the total industry mentions. Then, divide your own brand mentions by the sum and multiply by 100.

Engagement Metrics

5. Amplification Rate

This social media metric, amplification rate, measures the ratio of shares per post to your number of overall followers. The term was coined by Avinash Kaushik from Google. The amplification rate represents how willing your followers are to associate themselves with your brand. You can calculate it by tallying up the number of times your post was shared during a specific time period and dividing that number by your total followers. Then, multiply by 100.

6. Applause Rate

Applause rate has to do with "approval" actions such as likes and faves. This helps you understand what percentage of your audience finds your content valuable. As you can imagine, this knowledge can go a long way towards helping you develop a content marketing plan. Calculate applause rate by adding up the number of approval actions your post got over a specific period of time and dividing that number by your total number of followers. Then, multiply by 100.

7. Virality Rate

Doesn't everyone on social media want to go viral? If you use social media for business, going viral can make an enormous difference in conversions. That's why tracking your virality rate is so helpful. This is the number of people who shared a specific post relative to the number of impressions that post had during a particular time period. You can calculate virality rate by dividing the number of post shares by the number of impressions and multiplying by 100.

8. Average Engagement Rate

Your engagement rate shows you if your content is reaching your audience and getting a reaction through likes, shares, and comments. A higher engagement rate means that your content is resonating with your audience and is a much better measure than simply looking at the number of likes, shares, and comments. To calculate your engagement rate, divide your post's total number of likes, shares, and comments by your total number of followers and multiply by 100.

Conversion Metrics

9. Click-Through Rate

If you're tracking the right email marketing benchmarks, you already know all about click-through rates. This is how often people are clicking on the call to action in your emails, and it's the same for your social media content. This doesn't include things having to do with engagement (likes, shares, and comments) but instead is connected to following links that you share that lead your audience to additional content (such as following a link in a social post to a blog post on your website). To calculate your CTR, divide the total clicks on a social post's link by the number of impressions from that post and multiply by 100.

10. Bounce Rate

Bounce rates are important because they let you know what people are doing next. This social media metric is a bit trickier and requires something like Google Analytics to get a full measure of what's happening compared to your other sources of traffic. If you know that your social media bounce rate is lower than the traffic you get from an organic (not paid) Google search, for example, you know that your social media campaigns are on the right track. To track bounce rate, set up Google Analytics and go to Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Channels. You can click on the Bounce Rate button to sort the field (click on the column name twice to sort from lowest to highest bounce rate).

11. Social Media Conversion Rate

Your social media conversion rate is the total number of conversions coming from social media. This social media metric lets you know how effective your social media posts are. A high conversion rate tells you that your audience finds your content valuable and compelling enough to take action by making a purchase, subscribing to your email newsletter, downloading a lead magnet, or any number of other actions you've requested they take. Tracking your social media conversion rate requires the use of cookies (tracking codes) to track user behavior. Once the cookie is in place, divide the total number of conversions for a specific post by the total number of clicks the post received. Then, multiply by 100.

12. Conversation Rate

Conversation rate is another social media metric named by Avinash Kaushik and lets you know the ratio of comments per post to the number of followers you have. This is helpful because it helps you understand how many of your audience are commenting. Getting 15 comments sounds great if you have a couple hundred followers but not as great if you have a hundred thousand followers. To calculate conversation rate, divide the number of comments you received during a specific period by the total number of followers and multiply by 100.

Customer Metrics

13. Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

If you've ever run an ad, you're probably familiar with cost-per-click. This is the amount you're paying for each click you get on your paid posts. While it's tempting to keep a close eye on your total ad spend, it's much more important to know your CPC if you want to know how effective your advertising efforts are. To track your CPC, check out your chosen platform's ad manager. Here's what it looks like in Facebook ads:

Source: 9clouds.com

14. Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

Cost per thousand impressions is how much you pay every time a thousand people see your sponsored social media post. It's a fast and cheap way to split test your content (if your content is working, people will do more than scroll past). This is another social media metric that you should track through the ad manager for the platform you're using. Here's what it looks like in TikTok ads:

Source: omr.com

15. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSat)

Customer satisfaction lets you know how happy customers are with your products or services. Pretty straightforward, right? Brands typically will create a survey on social media asking a single question: "What is your overall satisfaction with this product/service/brand?" Customers can then rate their satisfaction on a scale (numerical or sentiment-based). To calculate customer satisfaction, tally the scores, and divide by the number of respondents. Then, multiply by 100 to get your score.

16. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net promoter score is a social media metric that measures customer loyalty by asking customers how likely it is that they'd recommend your brand, products, or services to a friend. Customers are asked to respond on a scale of zero to 10. From there, they're grouped into one of three categories as detractors (0–6 range), passives (7–8 range), and promoters (9–10 range). To calculate net promoter score subtract the total promoters from the total detractors and divide by the total number of respondents. Then, multiply by 100.

Track the Social Media Metrics That Matter

The 16 social media metrics we've included here will help you understand how your social media marketing campaigns are performing so you can create even better, more refined campaigns in the future. While each social media platform will probably have ways to measure and track these metrics for that specific platform, it's important to have a social media analytics software that will let you track data across all of your social media platforms at once.

If this is your first foray into tracking social media metrics, don't think you have to track all of them right away. Choose the social media metrics that match your social media goals and start with those. Track those metrics over time, using your historical data as a baseline. With the information you collect, you'll be able to make data-driven decisions that will greatly improve the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. Over time, we recommend that you start tracking all of these social media metrics to give your brand the best chance to create brilliant social media marketing campaigns that excite your audience and help you increase engagement, leads, and sales.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.