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How to bring KPIs and objectives into your overall marketing plan

Sophie Thompson
31st December 2020

Trying to pin down ‘how you're doing on social media' is like trying to get an oil-covered octopus into a string bag – it’s impossible. The only way that you can begin to answer that question is to have a means of measuring how you’re doing against your social media strategy objectives. The way to do that is to use social media KPIs.

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What are social media KPIs?

When you set about doing anything on social media, you should have clear objectives for your social media campaign. You need to know what the purpose is. Then you can use social media analytics and KPIs to define whether you are meeting those objectives. Your key performance indicators, or your social media KPIs, measure your performance against your set objectives. It’s a way of seeing if you’ve hit the target.

Why is it important to measure social media KPIs?

As mentioned, without taking the right measurements through KPIs, you have no way of knowing if you’re meeting your social media strategy objectives, which can be the difference between making sales or acquiring leads.

KPIs are more relevant than straight forward social media analytics. For example, how do you know if ‘5k followers’ is fantastic or poor unless you are measuring it against something relevant to your individual business?

They can prove success, rather than just guess at it.

The KPIs you should be using:

There’s no universal list of relevant social media KPIs that apply to every organization and every campaign. At the end of the day, the KPIs you choose to use will depend on your social media strategy objectives and which best measure your success against these goals. So, before deciding whether to use a particular KPI from the list below, check that it is actually useful against the objectives for the social media campaign you are running.

Specifically, make sure that you set clear paid social KPIs. These are invaluable for measuring return on investment (ROI).

KPIs, where social media is concerned, can be broken into a number of groups:

· KPIs for reach

· KPIs for engagement

· KPIs for conversions

· KPIs for customer service

· KPIs for loyalty

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KPIs for reach:

Fundamentally, KPIs for reach look at how many people see your post.

You can track:

· Impressions: Look at your social media analytics and identify how many times your post was in someone's feed.

· Audience growth rate: Take your number of new followers in a period of time and divide it by your total followers, and multiply by 100 to get your growth rate. This indicates the speed at which your audience is growing.

· Post reach: This looks at the number of people who have actually seen your post. Take the post views and divide by the total followers then multiply by 100. This helps you understand which content is favored and liked.

· Social Share of Voice (SSoV): This is one of the more complex social media analytics KPIs, but is useful if understanding your business growth in relation to competitors is part of your social media strategy objectives. It can be tricky to accurately calculate. You'll need to take the number of times you are mentioned, and divide it by all other mentions, before multiplying by 100.

KPIs for engagement:

These social media KPIs tell you whether your audience is interacting with your campaign and individual posts.

You can measure:

· Applause rate: This involves using ‘likes’ or other engagement methods (depending on the platform), to work out whether your customers like what you’ve posted. You simply take the number of likes and divide it by your number of followers, and then multiple by 100. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually tell you why they liked a particular piece of content. That could be for you to guess and analyze any patterns.

· Average engagement rate: This looks at how well your audience is engaging compared to a previous historical point or campaign. You add up all of the interactions on social media (such as likes, shares and comments) then divide by the number of followers, before multiplying by 100. If one of your social media strategy objectives is to do better than a previous campaign, then this can be a good measure of whether you achieved it.

· Amplification rate: Amplification rate works out if your audience are sharing your social content. This gives an idea of the scope for growth. On Pinterest you’re looking for repins, on Twitter you’re looking for retweets, on Facebook you’re looking at shares, and so on.

· Virality rate: It can be controversial and difficult as to whether you should put going viral as one of your social media strategy objectives, but it can be worth considering if you are likely to be able to drive viral content. You take the number of shares, divide it by the number of impressions and then multiply by 100.

· Comment conversation rate: Take the number of comments on a post and divide it by the number of followers you have and then multiply by 100. This way you can see what proportion of your followers are engaging with your posts.

KPIs for conversions:

At the end of the day, you ultimately want your social media efforts to result in people buying from you. You can measure your success against the objectives for your social media campaign in terms of conversion KPIs:

· Conversion rate: Take the number of conversions from your social media analytics and divide by the number of clicks (doing what you want them to, e.g. clicking on your call to action), and then multiply by 100.

· Click-through rate (CTR): Similar, but this time you take the number of clicks and divide it by the number of impressions, before multiplying by 100.

· Bounce rate: This looks at if people quickly leave a page after they’ve clicked through, showing the content isn’t of relevance to them. You want a low bounce rate.

· Cost Per Click (CPC): Particularly valuable as one of the paid social KPIs, CPC takes your total ad spend and divides it by the clicks. In your social media strategy objectives, you should be clear about paid social KPIs in order to have a clear understanding of ROI (return on investment).

KPIs for customer support and loyalty:

There are additional social media KPIs that you can use for looking at customer support and loyalty. These include things like customer satisfaction score, net promoter score, cost per lead, issue resolution rate, and customer lifetime value. Digging deeper into these will again depend on your social media objectives.

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Meet your social media KPIs

Meeting both your organic and paid social KPIs requires you to clearly state and set KPIs against your social media strategy objectives for each and every social media campaign you run, on each and every social channel. Then, use your social media analytics to analyze and check how you’re doing, as you go along, with short-term reviews and targets. You can then shape further action to capitalize on what’s going well and steer away from what’s not working.

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