Skip to main content

Which Social Media Metrics Should My Small Business Track?


Which Social Media Metrics Should My Small Business Track?

by | Sep 23, 2020 | Social Media

Over the years, the measure for successful marketing has changed dramatically. In general, companies in today’s age are more interested in conversions, click-through-rate, and engagement tracking versus historic marketing programs that relied more on the number of people who saw an advertisement to track success.

This is with good reason. The overall purpose of marketing is to bring in more leads into a sales funnel resulting in an increase in revenue. Pre-internet, you could make educated guesses about how successful your marketing was by knowing how many people potentially saw your ad and comparing that to how many people bought your product or service. Now in the digital age, we can more closely track analytics and optimize against specific human behavior.

This influx of available information, however, can be overwhelming. There are dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of metrics businesses can care about, but which ones should your small business care about?

What are your social media goals?

Before diving into which social media metrics small businesses should track, we need to examine what your social media goals are:

  • Are you looking to improve customer service?
  • Do you want to increase brand awareness?
  • Is the goal to generate leads for your sales pipeline?
  • Or do you simply want to learn more about your customers?

Determining your goals, as well as your content and audiences, will dramatically affect your social media strategy, including which social media are best for your small business and which metrics to track across those social media.

For example, if you own a local bakery, and you have a lot of great photos of beautiful confections, and you’re targeting families in your small town, your social media goals might be to increase brand awareness and generate leads. Then you will probably should choose Facebook and Instagram to achieve your digital marketing goals. Once you’ve set up your Facebook page and learned how to post to Instagram via Creator Studio, you’ll want to establish the metrics — or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — that will help you track your progress in regards to the goals you’ve set for your small business.

Which social media metrics should my small business track?

We’re going to focus on three high-level metric categories which should encompass most of the metrics small businesses need to prioritize: engagement, awareness, and conversion.

Social Media Engagement

Simply put, engagement on social media shows you how your audiences are interacting with your content. Things such as likes, comments, mentions, retweets, and shares fall into the engagement bucket.

Engagement metrics are important to measure for almost all social media goals, because they indicate how responsive your followers are to the content you’re posting. If the audience you have isn’t responding to the content you’re posting, more than likely, you need to start creating new content.

Two metrics to measure under the engagement category are applause rate and engagement rate.

Applause Rate

Applause rate looks at the number of likes you got on a specific post versus the number of followers you have. A lot of marketing agencies will tell you likes and followers are a vanity metric, which without the proper understanding can be true. Having a lot of followers or getting a lot of likes on their own are not really telling of the success of your social media content. That’s where applause rate comes in because it measures your approval actions against the number of followers you have. 

(likes / followers) x 100 = applause rate

÷ followers
applause rate

Engagement Rate

There are two ways to measure engagement rate. The first takes the number of engagements (likes, comments, shares, etc.) on a specific post and compares that to the total number of unique people who saw that specific post — we’ll call that engagement rate per reach. The second — which we’ll focus on — takes the number of engagements on a specific post and compares that to the total number of followers on a page. It’s basically applause rate but including all forms of engagement and not just likes.

likes, comments, mentions, shares, retweets, etc. /followers x 100 = engagement rate

 (engagements / followers) x 100 = engagement rate 

÷ followers
engagement rate

Let’s say someone with 1,000,000 followers gets 30 likes and 10 comments on a post and their competitor with 1,000 followers gets 15 likes and 5 comments. Who’s social media content performed better?

The first business got 30 likes and 10 comments which is double the amount of likes and comments as the competitor. However, their applause rate was just .003% and their engagement rate was .004%. On the other hand, the second business only got 15 likes and 5 comments, but had an applause rate of 1.5% and an engagement rate of 2%. In our books, the second business wins.

It’s great to have a lot of followers, if the followers are engaged, but non-engaged followers don’t really help you achieve your business goals.

Social Media Awareness

We mentioned earlier that historic marketing campaigns tended to focus more on brand awareness than current marketing plans, however, there is still a lot of merit in having a recognizable brand, because it allows you to stand out in congested markets. Additionally, awareness metrics give you a good idea of your current and potential audience.

There are three metrics worth measuring here: reach, impressions, and follower count.

Reach vs Impressions

Reach and impressions are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably when discussing social media analytics. There is a key difference that makes each of them worth measuring.

Reach measures the number of times a unique person saw your post. Impressions measure the total number of times your post was viewed regardless of who saw it. For example, say Patrick saw your post three times, Tim saw it twice, and Ryan, Kyle, and Dylan each only saw your post once; your reach would be 5 as 5 unique people saw your post, but your impressions would be 8 because your post was seen 8 times.

So you might ask, is there value in someone seeing your post more than once? There certainly can be, especially if your social media goals include raising brand awareness. Additionally, current research suggests it takes 8 touches to convert a lead into a sale, so, in general, the more a potential customer sees your social media content, the better.


As we mentioned earlier, follower count can be very misleading (and vain) if used incorrectly. Although, in theory, the more followers you have, the higher reach you’ll have, and with good content, the higher overall engagement you’ll have. For us, follower count is one to keep track of and to organically grow, but we encourage you to stay away from growing your follower count simply to bolster your ego.

Social Media Conversion

Conversions are often the pièce de résistance in social media marketing, because they allow you to track tangible actions that lead to revenue.

A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website completes a desired goal, such as signing up for your monthly newsletter, filling out a contact form, or actually buying a product. When you can tie specific social media content to conversions, you’re able to funnel your social media audience more quickly through your sales pipeline.

The two conversion metrics we like to look at are click-through rate and conversion rate.

Click-Through Rate

Your click-through rate (or CTR) measures the number of times someone clicked through to your website from a social media post against the impressions for that post.

 (clicks / impressions) x 100 = click-through rate 

÷ impressions
click-through rate

While getting someone onto your website via a social media click-through should be considered a win, you can and should refine what actions you want them to take on your website to get an even more accurate representation of your digital marketing efforts.

Conversion Rate

A social media conversion rate looks at all the conversions on your website, attributes them to their respective sources, then compares the conversions created by your social media marketing to the number of website visitors your social media content generated.

 (conversions / click-throughs) x 100 = conversion rate 

÷ click-throughs
conversion rate

Let’s look at a quick example. Say you’re a real estate agent and you post on Facebook about a sneak peak into an upcoming listing. Of the 1000 people who saw your post 50 people click through to your website to learn more. Your click-through rate would be 5%. Now, of the 50 people who clicked through to your website, 20 of them actually signed up for an email list that will give them early access to more information about the listing when it becomes available. Your conversion rate would be 40% because 40% of the people who came to your website via that social media post also completed your conversion action.

That’s a lot, OG. Where should I start?

When you decide to start setting social media goals and tracking progress, start small. I recommend picking two or three metrics to measure. Really work on understanding what your goals are and how specific metrics will help you track progress against those goals. Once you have a baseline, work to adjust and optimize your social media content to reach those goals.

Remember, your social media goal shouldn’t be to improve your metrics. It should be to improve your social media strategy which in turn leads to an improvement in your business goals. Metrics are simply there to track progress and provide insight. If your social media metrics continue to improve, but your business goals aren’t being met, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

If you’re looking for a hand getting started measuring your social media metrics, schedule a FREE 30-minute call with us so we can chat with you about your business goals, how social media can help, and which metrics make most sense for your small business.