The Social Media Metrics That Matter To Business Growth

The Social Media Metrics That Matter To Business Growth

Social media. It’s all about the number of followers you have, right? Wrong.

There are many brands that simply focus on vanity metrics (i.e. the number of followers they have), however, when it comes to social media, it doesn’t matter about the size of your audience; it’s rather what you do with it.

I’ve seen so many accounts frantically trying to grow the number of their Twitter followers, or Facebook likes, and using this as a measure of success to stand out against their competitors. I’ve even heard of some companies buying followers to get ahead of the game, which really doesn’t equate to engaged brand advocates.

Of course having two followers is better than one, and two thousand is better than two, but the problem with the number of followers you might have is that they’re not actually a real indicator of progress or success. They merely give the illusion that your social media efforts are successful.

Since social media analytics first took its baby steps into the analytical world, it’s been constantly debated. If you have a quick search on Google you’ll find a whole range of blog posts dedicated to which social media metrics you should be focusing your attention on. While you may be searching for a guide that claims to give you all the answers, the truth is that what you should measure depends on what your overall goals are.

Step away from the vanity metrics

Some of the most popular vanity metrics include the number of Twitter followers a business has, or it’s Facebook likes, etc., and the metrics are collected to make us social media types feel good. If real metrics show you whether or not your campaigns are making an impact, vanity metrics are there to make you feel that you’re doing a good job. Vanity metrics can easily be manipulated and don’t necessarily correlate to the numbers that matter; the amount of active users you have, the engagement and, ultimately, your revenue and profits.


Of course it’s nice to see that you’ve increased your Twitter following, or that you’ve gained a Facebook like or two, but remember what feels good isn’t always what’s best for you and sometimes these vanity metrics can actually do you more harm. Usually these followers aren’t real people with real money to spend and thus are of no use to your brand. Unfortunately, many brands get distracted by these shiny metrics as they don’t know the reason behind their social media goals..

Instead of taking a look at the number of followers you have each month, dedicate your social media efforts to actionable metrics. These are the stats that tie to specific and repeatable tasks which you can improve and which can add to the achievement of the goals of the business. Actionable metrics ultimately depend on what your goals are, but these could include number of sales, your conversion rate, an increase in referral traffic, etc. These are the actionable metrics that will help you to understand the return on investment of your social media campaigns.

Focus on the quality, not quantity

Engagement metrics can help give you an understanding of how much effect your website and social media presence are having on your ability to attract, retain and convert potential customers. You can develop a far better understanding of whether your marketing efforts are working compared to vanity metrics, if you measure how your potential customers engage with your website and social media presence.


Whilst your brand might have thousands of Twitter followers that doesn’t mean much if they’re not engaged with you. Instead, take a look at:

  • The comments per post you receive
  • Likes or +1s
  • How many times your posts are shared
  • Engagement rate per follower

These will show you if your audience is engaged with what your brand has to say. If you find you’re not receiving much engagement, analyse the type of content you publish that brings in visitors to your site. If you find you’re not receiving many conversions, take a look at your social media strategy and make adjustments to bring in more valuable visitors, not just visits.

Look at your leads

Do you find that some of your social media networks are more popular than others? Perhaps you’re receiving more referrals from your LinkedIn account than from your Twitter account? If your business needs to generate leads before they can convert them into customers, it’s important to understand the source of your best leads. Your paying customers are only a small percentage of your overall traffic – which is why only focusing on   the total number of visits is purely a vanity metric.

Knowing that your highest converting leads are coming from your social media, a paid campaign, or something else entirely, can help you focus your marketing spend, and energy, on the channels that provide you with the most return on investment.

What’s converting your customers?


Taking a look at your site-wide conversion rate is a good place to start, but there’s so much more data to be seen when you track each step of the user journey. Track the conversion rates of all of your traffic sources and their respective landing pages in order to gain real insights into how each demographic interacts with your site.

One of your top priorities should be to track and improve the conversion rate of visitors to leads and then leads to customers.  Ideally, each step of this journey tracked, understood and optimised. Your goal should be to establish an internal benchmark and then to constantly try to beat it.  Create a social conversion funnel to track your conversions from social media to learn which of your social content is driving the most revenue. This will help you to track the activities of your targeted customers as they interact with you on your social media accounts, visit your website and, ultimately, convert into a customer. To set this up, and monitor your process, you need to set up your Google Analytics to track conversions from social media.

Testing, Testing

When sharing blog posts or articles on your social media accounts why just settle for one title? If you’re sharing your content multiple times then you should be testing out a variation of headlines. A/B testing is an experimental process where you can test to find what will make your audience react the way you want them to, after all, what works well for one might not for the other.

A/B testing isn’t just limited to websites, emails, or AdWords, but also works really well for social media. Testing is vital to your social media marketing strategy, understanding what works and what doesn’t work for your audience, is critical to be able to optimise your strategy. Social media is possibly the closest point of contact between you and your potential leads and, by analysing this data, you can get an easy insight into which types of content is more favourable in the eyes of your target market.


Image source:

When sharing content on your Twitter account you should always test headlines. As you can see from the images above a headline variation on a shared article clearly shows which tweet has received the greatest engagement.  After both headlines were tested, you can see that the ‘The origin of the 8 hour work day and why we should rethink it’ received the most clicks through to the blog post.

Take note on your findings

It’s important that you report on your social media marketing otherwise how can you measure your success? However, there is a difference between having the data and doing something constructive with the data.

Not only do you need the data to help meet your social media goals, but I’m sure your team or clients would love to know the ROI of what you do each day. So how can you take these metrics and report them to the team in an easily digestible format?

Personally I like to report on referral traffic, as that’s one of the main goals behind Receptional’s social media strategy: but, at the end of the day, it totally depends on what your goals are for your strategy.

So, what’s next?

Once you’ve gained an understanding of which metrics you should be focusing on in your social media campaigns, it’s time to put your hard work into action! Capturing the data behind your social media campaign is the easy part, the tough part is knowing what to do with it.

Take a look at your stats to gain an insight into what’s working, and what’s not, and then decide where to make changes. The beauty of social media is that it can work differently for everyone, so play around with it and find out how it can benefit you.

Do you need help with your social media strategy? Get in touch with the Receptional social team and see how we can help you.

Lisa Bollins

Lisa joined the link building team in October 2014, bringing skills in content writing and blogger outreach. When she’s not at work she can be found writing away on her beauty blog, drinking tea, on Twitter, or with deaf Jeff the cat. Lisa is Google Analytics Qualified.

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