The Best Social Media Metrics to Focus On

February 2, 2022

Metrics are not all created equal.

Having a ton of likes on your social media posts looks impressive, but does it matter much if no one clicks through? Similarly, someone who watches a two-minute video to completion is more interested than someone who hits that like button. 

If a user likes your video, then keeps scrolling without responding to your call to action, have you really moved the needle? 

In this post, we’re going to talk about the best social media metrics to focus on. You might be surprised to find out that the metrics you’ve been paying attention to might not be the ones that matter the most. 

With 3.78 billion users actively using social media around the world, your potential audience is vast. It’s time to learn which insights to focus on so you can draw more people to your brand.

Want to know more? Read on. 

Where to Access Social Media Data 

Before we talk about the most important social media metrics to focus on, you need to know where to access them in the first place.

Most social media platforms have native analytics for business and creator accounts. For example, all Facebook Pages, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube business accounts have detailed insights that are free to access. If you run a company page on LinkedIn, those have free, built-in analytics tools, too. 

Facebook Business Suite Insights

In addition to social media platforms’ native insights tools, you can also use third-party tools to get access to all your analytics in one place. Sometimes, you can also get access to more advanced data. 

Platforms such as Agorapulse, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Later are all excellent tools you can use to consolidate your social media platforms, schedule posts, and analyse how those posts are performing across all your social accounts. 

The Social Media Metrics That Matter Most 

Wondering which social media metrics you should be paying the most attention to? There are some insights you’ll need to keep close tabs on, so let’s go over what those are. 

Reach 

Your reach is the unique number of users who are seeing your posts at any given time. This is a different metric from total impressions, since impressions can include multiple views from some of the same users who might be seeing your posts over and over. 

Reach is much more specific. In essence, your number of impressions is inflated. If you removed all repeat viewers from your impressions, your total number would be much lower. 

Facebook & Instagram reach graph

Because reach only encompasses unique views, you can get a clearer idea of how many individuals are really connecting with your content. 

You want to maximise reach to make your campaigns as effective as possible. That means you’ll need to track that metric more closely than your total impressions, paying attention to what kinds of posts and content increase your reach. 

Comments 

When a user leaves a comment on your social media post, that’s a more high-intent action than simply liking it. The number and frequency of comments on your posts allow you to gauge how your audience is feeling about your brand, the content you share, and the kind of experience they have when they encounter it. 

Instagram comment section

According to statistics from Sprout Social, 55% of modern consumers find out about new brands through social media. An eye-opening 68% of users say they interact and engage with those brands on social platforms.  

Being able to comment directly with a favourite brand is one way to lower a lead’s barrier to entry. You can also build social proof for your business in the process. 

Assess the sentiment behind comments on your posts. This will give you clear insights on how your followers feel about your brand and what you’re posting. Even better, you’ll also have the chance to engage directly with your followers. 

Saves 

Are you monitoring whether your followers are saving your posts? 

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube all allow followers to save specific content they like for easy access later. 

When your users save your content, that shows the value of what you’re posting. It means people want to access the content again because they found some level of value in it. 

Not every type of content you post will be saved, though, even if it’s great. For example, user-generated content (UGC) can be impactful, but it’s unlikely to be saved. 

To boost the chances of users saving more of your posts, assess your value-focused content, such as infographic-style posts and other informative pieces. Look for saves, too, so you can see what’s resonating with your followers. 

If you’re using a third-party tool such as Later, for example, you can access your Analytics dashboard, then view Post Performance to see which posts your users are saving. While you’re at it, you can analyse post engagement, reach, and comments, too. 

Later analytics dashboard

Once you know what kinds of content your users are saving, you can start to replicate similar posts. Continue to monitor your analytics to see if the new material is performing as well as some of your past content. 

Video View Metrics  

Video view metrics can give you a powerful insight into how relevant your videos are and how well they’re engaging your audience. Like the idea of impressions versus reach, your video metrics aren’t just about how many video views you got, but about view completion and retention data.

On some platforms, a three-second video view (or less) can get logged as a full view, even though the user didn’t watch it all the way through. Because of that, you can’t assume that every view on your videos was a full-length one.

According to survey data from Lemonlight, 99% of respondents said that they enjoy watching videos made and posted by brands online. That’s an excellent reason to try tweaking your video content to keep users watching. 

When you’re analysing your video view metrics, look at whether your users are finishing your videos. That’s called your audience retention metric. Here’s what it looks like in Instagram: 

Video insights Instagram

You’ll be able to see how long your followers are watching your videos. Instagram will also show you the percentage of followers against the amount of time spent watching.

How much of the videos are they watching on average? How many completed the videos? 

This important metric shows how relevant and engaging your videos are to your audience. Both Facebook and YouTube offer in-depth analysis for the videos users upload there. 

Clicks to Open 

Are people clicking on your links? If so, that’s a good sign, since you aren’t dropping links for no reason. 

You take pains to make sure links are present in your social media posts, specifically so users will click on them. Whether you’re selling a product, offering a free lead magnet, or encouraging them to sign up for your email list, you want them to follow your prompts to the next step. 

Later analytics, website clicks

Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow you to display your links in the post text. Oftentimes, there’s an accompanying preview link your users can click. 

YouTubers can put links in their video’s description, or even on the end screen once users have completed a video. 

On Instagram, your clicks to open metric can be how many links are being opened in your Stories, or how many times the link in your profile is being clicked. Are users following your Reels or feed posts to your bio like you want them to, for example? 

Shares 

If your followers love your content, they’ll share it. So, an important metric to pay attention to is whether your content is getting shares, and if so, how many it’s getting. 

Shares mean your content is relevant to your target audience. The more shares, the better. Additionally, shares indicate that you’re getting a chance to expand your reach to new potential audience members. 

You can access analytics related to social media shares in your insights dashboard. For example, Facebook Business Suite has an at-a-glance dashboard that displays your post shares in an easy-to-view format.

Later insights, key metrics

Within Instagram, you can view insights for an individual post. Scroll down the page, and you’ll see your Shares. 

social media metrics, instagram

Follower & Subscriber Count Growth 

Your follower and subscriber counts can tell you a lot about your current growth strategies on social media. If you’re consistently adding followers and subscribers, you can bet that your strategy is working and your content resonates with them.

The growth projection counts more than just the number of subscribers. You want to make sure that you’re adding followers, and not declining. 

You can look into what your follower count looks like on some social media platforms, such as Instagram. Take a look at these insights from a small profile that’s still in its early stages. 

social media key metrics on instagram, followers

At the top, you can see that the profile has an overall follower count of 1,392, with a +0.09% growth rate compared to the previous month. Now, look a little further down the page. 

You can see that, over the past 30 days featured on the page, the profile has only actually gained 13 followers. Although they got 45 new followers, they lost 32. 

If you’re losing almost as many followers as you’re gaining, then something needs to change with your content. As you experiment with new strategies, focus on building engagement. The other metrics can follow over time. 

What You Can Learn From Other Vanity Metrics 

While we’ve spent time highlighting the best social media metrics to focus on, you can still learn plenty from other vanity metrics. After all, if your audience is consistently interacting with your brand, you’re getting their attention–and they’re spending time with you.

For example, even though likes don’t carry the same weight as comments, they still signify your audience’s engagement with your brand. They can help out with algorithms. 

Likes aren’t irrelevant; they just aren’t as impactful as other metrics. Still, it could be beneficial to keep an eye on them.

Later instagram metrics

You also want to keep up with impressions, even though your reach is a more critical measure of growth and engagement. Impressions can still show you how often you’re showing up in users’ news feeds. 

Compare your reach to your impressions to see how many people are seeing duplicate content. Then, you’ll want to work on growing your reach further. 

How to Choose Your Campaign’s KPIs 

Wondering what key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to focus on most? 

While the above metrics are the most important to watch when you want to track the efficiency of your overall social media strategies, know that sometimes, some metrics will carry more weight than others. You’ll need to take your own content and business needs into account before you focus on a particular insight. 

When deciding on which insights to monitor closely, consider the nature of your content. 

For example, if you’re launching video campaigns to build brand awareness, you’ll need to look at insights such as shares, reach, and video view metrics. These will be the most critical metrics to keep up with. 

However, if you’re trying to drive users to book appointments through your site, you’ll need to get clicks on links. Having lots of comments is also good because engagement can offer a chance to answer user questions and leverage social proof to drive actions. 

The bottom line is, you’ll need to choose your KPIs based on what your brand’s goals are. Consider what action you want your followers to take, then focus on the corresponding metrics. 

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to choosing the best social media metrics to focus on, you really need a basic understanding of user behaviors and what your insights reveal. Your metrics will be a direct reflection of how well your content is performing and what adjustments you need to make going forward. 

Focusing on your reach, comments, saves, video view metrics, clicks to open, and follower and subscriber count growth can help you narrow your focus to some of the more insightful and actionable insights. However, other vanity metrics–such as impressions and likes–can help you gain a fresh perspective on how your audience is interacting with your content. 

By knowing which metrics to focus on, you can free up time and put your effort into the right places. And when your effort is directed towards making the right changes for your unique content, you should begin to see positive results. 

Want to learn more about building a strong foundation as a social media marketer? Check out our Social Media Essentials course today!

Free video training: How To Grow Any Business By $1M p.a In 12 Months Or Less Using Social Media Marketing.

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About the author 

Jonathon Tanner

Jonathon Tanner is the Co-CEO of Social Media College, Australia's leading educator and trainer for social media.

He co-authored the Diploma of Social Media Marketing, the world's first and only Australian Government recognised course in social media marketing, delivered by 25 leading colleges and TAFEs across Australia, and articulating into several Bachelor programs at Australian Universities.

His deep expertise in social media spans content marketing, social media strategy, 15 different social media networks, paid social advertising, personal branding, email marketing, and social media conversion.

Jonathon has also co-founded several other businesses, as well as spending 12 years as a management consultant specialising in mergers & acquisitions for private equity firms, growth strategy, and operational improvement.

Jonathon holds a combined Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney.

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