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The 4 Key Social Media Marketing Metrics and What They Mean

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The Key Social Media Marketing Metrics That Really Matter – and What They Mean 

Whether you’re just starting with social media marketing, or looking to broaden your understanding of the field, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of what really matters.

There are hundreds of buzzwords and abbreviations out there.

To make matters worse, shady marketers may try to confuse you by throwing out these terms to draw your attention away from what really matters. 

So here, in order, are what we think are the key social media marketing metrics you need to monitor for every campaign. 

A Note on “Vanity Metrics” 

Here at Syte we often decry the use of so-called “vanity metrics” such as likes, impressions or comments.

While these do have their place in measuring things like brand awareness or engagement with your target audience, we find they’re often used to try and distract away from the truth.

At the end of the day, everything in a successful business is a mechanism towards driving sales, and the biggest advantage of digital marketing is the ability to more precisely track sales and where they come from.

So, while we do report on some of these metrics at our client’s request, our focus (and the thing we think every marketer should focus on) is always on driving up the bottom line.

1. Conversions

The most important of the social media marketing metrics should always be the number of extra conversions you can directly correlate to each campaign.

What this means, and how we track it, obviously differs by industry.

For e-commerce stores, it’s usually relatively simple, because we can track backend sales and where they originated from to work out conversions.

For service-based, B2B (business to business) or luxury companies, it can be more complicated, and we may have to look at tracking leads instead which we’ll cover below.

Key Sub Metrics:

  • Cost Per Conversion (CPCon)

The average amount you need to spend on a particular campaign to earn a conversion. 

You want to always make sure that each conversion brings in more money than it costs to acquire, and this will obviously vary depending on the margins in your particular industry. 

This metric is useful mostly in guiding your ROI, but in low volume high margin industries, it may be worth tracking the cost per conversion on its own. 

  • ROI (Return on Investment) 

In this context, we usually take ROI as a ratio rather than an absolute number. 

I.e. on average, how much do you earn for every rand you put into a campaign? 

This is an incredibly valuable “snapshot” metric for your campaign’s overall performance, and it can be useful to maintain a goal ratio based on your margins and volume of sales.

E.g. a goal of 1:4 ROI (R4 earned for every R1 spent on social media campaigns).

2. Leads

In the event where you can’t, or don’t want to, track sales leads are the “next best thing”.

These are the three most common scenarios where you might want to consider going for leads instead of direct conversions: 

  • Your business isn’t set up for direct e-commerce purchases yet.
  • You run a service-based business or B2B focused business where you need to finalise the sale on a case by case basis. 
  • Your product is a high value or luxury product people don’t feel comfortable purchasing online. 

Key Sub Metrics:

  • CPL (Cost Per Lead) 

Similarly to Cost Per Conversion, the first metric you want to consider is how much each lead costs you from a given campaign.

You want to make sure each lead gives you more than you’re spending to acquire it, on average, and this is where it can get somewhat complicated.

Unlike sales, where every sale is going to have a value attached, some leads end up going nowhere. It’s just part of doing business.

That’s why you also want to consider the average lead quality. 

  • Lead Quality 

Lead quality is a bit harder to define, but in essence, it’s how likely any given lead from a campaign is to convert. 

This is obviously a somewhat subjective metric because it depends now only on how your social media campaign is targeted but also on the closing ability of your salespeople.

Two teams with different levels of sales ability could find the same list of leads to be wildly different quality.  

In general, if your sales team has a good closing record they should close better than cold leads because they’ve already shown some interest in your business. 

It can be challenging trying to determine where the error lies, so we suggest always tackling both ends to try and improve your lead quality and closing rates. 

  • ROI (Return On Investment) 

Lastly, also important to consider is your overall ROI from social media marketing leads. 

This can be harder to attribute because, unlike sales, the transaction isn’t instant.
Leads need to be contacted and closed before you can determine their real value.

The best way to work this out, therefore, is to pick a reasonable timeframe that it takes your sales team to close a set of leads and measure over that. 

E.g. 3 months; taking the average spend over those three months and subtracting it from the value of the leads you got from social platforms. 

3. Reach 

Reach is, simply put, the overall number of people your social media marketing can get in front of. 

It’s with distinguishing between organic reach and paid reach.
Organic reach is something you build up over time, by posting content and engaging with the community using organic posts. 

Paid reach is much more flexible and usually configured on a per campaign basis and according to the objective. 

If your objective is brand awareness, you obviously want the most reach possible. If the objective is direct sales, you may want to lower reach to make sure you’re targeting the right people. 

Key Sub Metrics:

  • Overall Reach 

It’s important to consider the overall number of people you’re able to reach in a campaign. In general, the more people you want to reach the more it’s going to cost (in the case of paid ads). 

You want to make sure your potential reach matches the size of your potential target market, through market research,

That’s not to say it’s not worth trying to grow your own market, but generally speaking, if your reach is twice as big as your potential customer base, you’re just wasting money. 

  • Audience Quality 

You can reach a billion people and not make a single sale if you’re not reaching the right people.
At the same time as growing your reach, you always want t make sure your marketing content (paid or organic) is tailored towards attracting your ideal customer.

One of the best ways of generating a custom paid audience is using lookalikes of current organic audiences, so it’s always worth investing in cultivating an audience of your ideal consumers.

4. Engagement

As we’ve said, you want to make sure you’re not just reaching enough people but enough of the right people

So how do you know if your content is engaging with your audience? 

Simple, they’ll tell you.
Engagement is a measure of actions taken by users on social media platforms like likes, comments or shares on your organic or paid communications.
They can be interpreted as an endorsement of the message (assuming it’s a positive engagement of course). 

Key Sub Metrics:

  • Comments

Not necessarily the types of comments, but their contents can be a very valuable metric to track. They let you see the overall sentiment of your customers in a way that’s hard to find elsewhere.
If you’re looking for ways to improve service, often the easiest way is to simply listen to them and what they want from your business. 

  • Engagement Percentage

The overall percentage of the people you reach who engaged with your social media marketing in some way (whether it be by comment, likes or shares, etc.). 

This is a good metric to track both your audience quality and if the messages you’re putting out are connecting with people.
Just be aware 100% engagement is practically impossible. In fact, on Instagram some sources claim above 6% is an amazing engagement rate.  


We hoped this help you understand the best ways to track the success of your social media marketing campaigns.
Remember, don’t rely on “vanity” social media marketing metrics.

Find your business’ bottom line and track all of your campaigns against that, or else you can never be sure if your marketing is actually adding value or not.

Before the internet age, marketers were content with that sort of “shotgun” approach, but in the digital age, everything needs to be trackable and provide provable value. 


If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, check out more e-commerce marketing content on the inSyte blog or listen to the inSyte Podcast.

This article was brought to you by Syte.

We’re a specialist e-commerce digital marketing agency dedicated to driving up your bottom line.

If you need any help running your business’ search ads effectively, feel free to reach out with the form below or check out our case studies page to see what we’ve been able to do for our clients. 

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