What are social media KPIs? (and how should I use them?

I was on the phone with a potential client recently when the topic of KPIs came up. One of my favorite questions to ask when I’m on a call is what KPIs are being tracked. It usually gives me a good idea of what’s being watched, and what is perhaps a little misunderstood.

So we were chatting and they mentioned they felt impressions was a stupid thing to track. They were genuinely frustrated that Facebook would charge them for an ad that simply had “impressions” as the goal.

And I totally get it. When you’re shooting in the dark with a Facebook ad, you grasp for any indication that you’re doing the right thing. Any number that looks like it’s going up gives a slight sense of relief. But when you don’t know what those numbers actually mean… Well, it’s hard.

Because advertising is scary.

The more I work with clients (and even for myself) I learn that marketing is scary only if you don’t understand what things mean. It feels a bit like trying to play ping pong outside with a parka and ski gloves at midnight…. impossible and confusing and frustrating. Why would you even waste your time?

When you DO understand what’s happening, though, marketing becomes a game. A fun one. In the summertime with sunshine. The kind of game where you find a flow and feel amazing about what’s happening.

That’s the goal, right? Flow.

So let’s talk about some of the building blocks of KPIs so you can discover that flow with your social media.

What are KPIs?

KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. They’re a way of measuring growth. KPIs include things like impressions, reach, and engagement. Even followers can be a KPI.

KPIs are little snippets of information, captured at various times, to give you – as a business owner – a good indication of your growth. KPIs give business owners a better understanding of conversations happening around their business.

Why do KPIs matter?

KPIs are the little numbers you track, helping you identify growth when there doesn’t seem to be a direct revenue correlation. And proper analysis of these KPIs can help you refine the way you do business.

For example, maybe one of your company goals is to connect with a younger audience. A KPI you could track might be your audience demographic over time. If you start seeing more engagement with a younger audience, you’ll know your message shift is working. If you see the same level of engagement (or even less) with that younger audience, it’s a great indication that something isn’t right, and you may need to revisit your messaging.

Are you tracking the right KPIs?

One big mistake I see companies make all the time is tracking the WRONG KPIs. It’s so easy to get caught up in how many Instagram followers you have, or how many impressions a particular Facebook ad got.

But if that’s not your goal, those numbers don’t matter.

If you’re running a big campaign to increase brand awareness, impressions would be a great KPI to track.
But if you’re more interested in getting someone to come in for a consultation, engagement would be a better KPI to track. Why? Because engaged customers are more likely to visit a brick and mortar location.

Here’s the thing: social media ISN’T sales. It’s a doorway to establishing trust. Social media is a place to listen and have conversations. It’s a place to educate and entertain. It’s a place to grow relationships. I have a relationship with ESPN because I follow them on Instagram. They keep me up-to-date with my sports news. And that engagement matters, because I’m more likely to invest in their line of products. A certain level of trust has been established. I trust them to give me accurate, fast information. And because of that, I’ve grown rather fond of the brand. It’s one I trust.

Your brand can be the same way. You have a great opportunity to establish trust. And social media is a phenomenal place to do that. If this is your goal, track the right type of KPIs (like engagement and audience growth).

KPIs don’t have to be scary. Just take a few minutes and think about your goals and what would help measure those goals.

Want to learn more about KPIs? Sign up for IntAct Social – the free course that teaches you how to do social media on purpose.

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