How to tell whether your social media strategies are working

In the last few years, social media has evolved to be one of the most powerful marketing platforms in the world. With 1 billion users (and growing) on only Instagram itself, there is no doubt that you are unable to find your targeted audience on the platform. However, the question lies in whether they found you. You’ve done your research, identified your goals and implemented your social media strategy. Now what? How do you know if your hard work has paid off? 

There are two types of metrics to help you answer this question: vanity metrics and actionable metrics. 

Vanity metrics

Vanity metrics are metrics that look great on paper, as the name implies, but it doesn’t really mean much when it comes down to decision making. These metrics identify the current state of the product but do not offer insight for future plans. Examples of vanity metrics are the number of likes, followers or web visitors. An increase in these metrics may seem like a marketer’s dream, but they do not indicate the entire effectiveness of your strategies.

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If you take a look at Disney’s Facebook page, it has over 52 million followers. However, if you look closely at the interactions per post, it gets around hundreds of likes and a few comments and shares. There is a huge disparity between these two components. However, we shouldn’t entirely ignore these kinds of metrics.

Vanity metrics can show how marketable your product is and the health of your business. For example, an increase in followers shows that your strategy has increased the exposure of your brand. This means more people are inclined to have you show up on their feed. Another example is the surge of likes for one particular post. This can indicate that whatever you are doing on that post, you’re doing it right.

Actionable metrics

Actionable metrics are metrics that allow you to identify actions you can use to improve repeatable tasks. These metrics help you understand your long term goals as these are the numbers you want to see grow in the next cycles. A great example is an increase in active followers. These are followers that actively engage in your content, read your posts and click your links.

Taking a look at 9GAG’s Facebook page, it has up to 42 million followers and each post has thousands of comments and shares. The ratio of followers to comments and shares indicate that 9GAG has a high number of active followers.

This is a great metric to rely on as it indicates that your social media strategy has motivated those followers to come back and interact with your brand often. This is the kind of metric you want to see grow to pool a number of devoted and loyal followers. 

A combined approach

Collectively, these two metrics work hand in hand to not only help you measure the success of your social media strategy but as well as plan for future strategies. For example, you’ve partnered with a famous social media influencer to sell your product as your strategy. The post she/he published had gained massive traction through likes, thus converting his/her followers to your page.

That’s a great way to use vanity metrics to measure the effectiveness of the strategy and how big of reach it got. However, a follower increase doesn’t translate to success. If the new followers do not actively engage with the content you put out there, then this could signal that they are not active followers. Concluding that your strategy possibly increased your exposure to people, but did not build a loyal following. 

These two metrics can explain two different circumstances. They should be used in conjunction to successfully measure whether your strategies are working. 

We look at the role of social media influencers in PR

Want to learn more about the role of social media in your brand’s PR journey? Read more about it in our FREE Social Media for PR Guide now. Download the eBook here.

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