The Most Important Metric in Social Media

The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you track for your social media are typically the standard set; shares, likes, engagement, favorites, Analytics traffic, mentions, etc. Let’s talk about why you should be capturing this data and how you should be using it to make positive changes for your business.


You should always start with your desired end result. What are your goals for social media? Is it branding, thought leadership, expanding your reach, sales, traffic to your website, lead generation or other? It’s likely you have more than one goal for social media, I know we have all of the above, with the primary goal to drive sales.


Having a successful brand means constantly replaying your message in mediums where your customers prefer to get their information or entertainment. Social media is a great opportunity to brand your company but is also incredibly dangerous if not done correctly.

Your brand is your business. Social media is not like traditional marketing which is more of a broadcast message of 1 to many. Social media is more 1 to 1 relationship with interaction happening both ways. Many big companies have gotten into trouble with missteps in social media and it’s critical to understand this is an important communication tool for your company. Make certain the people responsible are people you want to represent your company. In other words, don’t just throw it to the intern because they likely understand Facebook.

KPIs for branding would include tracking shares, likes, and favorites. How resonant is your content that others are noticing and engaging with it? It’s been discussed that many folks read a title that hit the mark, and they immediately share or like without even reading the article.

Thought Leadership

At the end of the day, you want your company to be top of mind when a potential customer is ready to move forward with a purchase of a product or service. That is in part done with branding, but perhaps a more important second step is thought leadership. Your company may be the first to mind because of consistent branding, but if you aren’t seen as the leader, you may be the second choice when it comes to a purchase.

Thought leadership means you have provided information to potential customers that sets you apart from your competition. Have you provided thought provoking insight, advice, data or statistics? Do you have more happy customers than anyone else?

How do you measure thought leadership? Surveys work. Engagement data also is a sign of thought leadership. In theory, the more time a customer gives you, the more they may be interested in what you have to say.


Clearly one of the best KPIs to track is an increase in sales. However making an increase in sales attributable to social media can be difficult. There are ways you can easily correlate a direct increase of sales to social media, and you see them all the time. Contests encouraging sharing are a good example. Discounts that are unique and trackable to social customers.

Google Analytics

For our company, one of the best metrics to measure our success is direct traffic from Social Media to our website. We track social links regularly. We compare social traffic to organic search, paid search, and direct. We want to market smarter with less expense, and leverage our audience via social. If we see an increase in traffic from social, we are likely to increase sales.

It’s important to remember then that your social media needs a call to action to get people to click through to your site. We use content as the driver. Tips and tricks, or how-to articles are great calls to action. By focusing more on information-based posts we have increased our analytics data from social significantly. At the same time, we are achieving our thought leadership and branding goals.


Content continues to be king.  While I may not have defined “The Most Important Metric in Social Media,” by now you have likely deduced that it depends on your goals.  Without measurement, you will never be able to tell if you’ve succeeded.  I recently took a lead marketing position at a new company.  I have been here for 4 months and today I reviewed my high level goals in terms of social.  The goal was to increase social analytics to our site by 100% by the end of the first half of the year, and 200% by the end of 2015.  Happy to say that as of the end of February 2015 we have already increase Facebook 445% and Twitter inbound links by 120%.  Time for new goals!  However, this is only possible due to content, and measurement.