Beyond Vanity Metrics: Creating Strategic, Measurable Impact Using Social Media

Beyond Vanity Metrics: Creating Strategic, Measurable Impact Using Social Media

Beyond Vanity Metrics: Creating Strategic, Measurable Impact Using Social Media

Years ago marketers and business owners grew tired and frustrated from hours spent creating social media content for what felt like little return. Then organic reach decreased and noise on platforms increased. We all learned rather quickly that we could spend a lot of time on social media with little return on our investment. In order to maintain our social media budgets, we needed to justify the time and money spent whether to ourselves, our clients, or our bosses.

Social media plays an important role in your marketing strategy. Like all other aspects of marketing, we need to set clear, measurable goals in order to make the most of our investments. Not sure what this looks like? Your specific goals and what key elements you measure to determine if you reached those goals depends on your business. Research shows this varies from one industry to another and it even varies from business to business within the same industry. 

Let’s look at some of the most common social media goals, why they are important, and how you can measure them effectively.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness sounds like a fluffy, hard to measure goal. How many times have you had a customer or client say, “I didn’t know you were here.”? That’s the importance of brand awareness. You’ll not reach every potential customer and you’ll reach some folks who won’t ever buy from you, but brand awareness allows you to ensure people at least know your company exists and what it does. In surveys by both Sprout Social and Hootsuite, the top goal identified by marketers is brand awareness, which means you’re not the only one interested in getting your name out there.

Which metrics do you use to measure brand awareness?

  • Engagement rates
  • Impressions
  • Brand mentions
  • Shares
  • Post Reach
  • Website traffic
  • Share of voice

Website Traffic

While website traffic can be a measurement itself, for many businesses increasing website traffic is a huge goal. Unlike social media, you own your website and choose what your visitors see once they arrive. From your website, you can move customers through the buyer’s journey, collect e-mail addresses, or retarget using search or social ads.

Which metrics do you use to measure website traffic?

  • Clicks
  • Site traffic on Google analytics
  • Bounce rate
  • Acquisition channels
  • Email sign ups

Community Engagement

This might also be titled “community conversations.” The best marketing has been and will always be word-of-mouth. How do you prod along this elusive WOM marketing? Community engagement or conversations is one way to do it. You’ll learn more about your customers’ needs and challenges along with how your product or service solves those problems for them. Simple engagement metrics such as likes or shares helps you to identify which messages hit home with your customers and which ones miss the mark.

Which metrics do you use to measure community engagement?

  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Clicks
  • Comments
  • Mentions
  • Replies
  • Private/Direct Messages

Increase in Sales

We all want to see our bottom line grow. Our expectation is that as our community of followers grows, as they become more engaged, as more people learn about our company, our sales numbers will follow. At some point, we have to look at these specific sales metrics and determine if our social media strategy is working toward the ultimate goal. It may not be overall growth in all areas of your company. If you have a specific product or service line you’ve promoted on social media measure sales of that one area against where you were six, twelve, or twenty-four months ago.

Which metrics do you use to measure increased sales?

  • Sales numbers
  • Pageviews of specific products/services on your website
  • Add-to-cart clicks
  • Completed transactions

Customer Support

Particularly for enterprise-level companies, social media offers an easy way to provide customer support. Many companies have Twitter and Facebook accounts dedicated to customer support questions. Facebook Messenger and Direct Messages on Twitter make connecting privately with a customer easier than ever. Companies who field hundreds of customer support contacts through social media use bots and other automated options to provide immediate feedback to those customers. Fast, reliable support is key to keeping customer happy. Strive to be able to resolve their problems in one contact on one social media channel.

Which metrics do you use to measure customer support?

  • Number of support contacts
  • Response time
  • Number of problems/questions resolved in one contact on social media without changing platforms


Winning a new customer involves increasing that person’s confidence in your ability to provide the product or service you’ve promoted. For B2B companies, healthcare clinics, and charities, that involves educating your prospects on why they should choose your company or why your product/service best solves their problem. Eventually, education leads to a change in mindsets and purchasing habits.

Which metrics do you use to measure education?

  • Website traffic
  • Brand or issue mentions
  • Hashtags
  • Engagements
  • Impressions
  • Post reach

While some of the metrics we’ve mentioned may be viewed as “vanity metrics,” they can all support specific goals. Setting your company’s goals also involves an analysis of your current social media strategy, a link back to your overall company goals, and specific, measurable metrics. When you’re ready to use social media more effectively, email Hilary for a free consultation.