Anyone who’s got some skin in the marketing game these days knows that video is the single most effective medium for spreading your message. But let’s say you’ve already started sharing videos alongside a healthy mix of static images, articles, and stories.

This is where things get tricky. How do you determine what’s working? Despite your best creative instincts and unfailing design eye, what performs best on social isn’t always what looks the best. Sometimes it’s the low-quality, behind-the-scenes shots that do well and the beautiful graphic quotes that flop. The only way to really know what’s working on social media is to rely on the numbers. That’s right, data.

However, from insights within each platform to social listening tools, there’s more data readily available than you could possibly know what to do with. To help you sift through it all, today we’re highlighting a few of the most important social media metrics to keep tabs on and analyze.

One thing to keep in mind: These aren’t necessarily the only metrics you should be tracking, but rather the metrics that will give you the clearest and most accurate sense of what’s working. Let’s get started.

1. Reach

Reach is one of the most fundamental, trackable social metrics of them all. Every social media platform’s built-in insights should display your page’s reach, so you don’t need a fancy social listening tool to keep tabs on this one. On the most basic level, reach is the number of unique users who see your content in their feed. 

Though it may seem like a given that all of your followers will see all of your content, the nature of social media algorithms is such that every one of your followers does not see every piece of content you post. To complicate matters even more, many people who don’t follow you are likely seeing your content — whether it was shared with them or surfaced in a hashtag search or on an Explore page. That’s why tracking your reach is so important. 

The higher the reach on a certain post, the more people saw it. More eyes on your content is always a good thing, so keeping tabs on which posts have the highest reach will help you determine what content types perform best on your channels.

2. Shares

You might not be as familiar with shares because they’re often lumped together with likes and comments under the umbrella of ‘total engagement.’ However, looking closely at shares is crucial because it’s the most significant engagement metric. The reason is simple: shares require the most effort on behalf of the user. Unlike a comment or a like, a share requires the user to either repost the content on their own profile or send it to a friend. This speaks volumes about the content’s strength. It means the content was so impactful that the user who saw it wanted their friends and followers to see it, too. 

For your own feeds, take a look at which content has the most shares. What commonalities do those posts have? Usually, posts with a high number of shares are widely-applicable. They’re either inspirational or humorous, and often they’re unique enough that users feel their friends or followers haven’t already seen something similar.

Apps like Facebook and Instagram allow you to track shares directly through their in-app insights, so you don’t need a social listening tool to keep track. Twitter doesn’t allow you to get granular enough to track shares, but number of retweets is a similar metric.

3. Engagement Rate

Looking at overall engagement is a great way to see how well your content is performing, But the engagement number by itself isn’t always the most useful. As we discussed, the same number of users don’t see all of your content (hence your reach number is always changing). So if you have different numbers of people seeing each piece of content, you can’t accurately compare the engagement of one post against another.

That’s where engagement rate comes in. This metric calculates the rate at which users engaged with your content. Most social media platforms won’t give you this number, so you can either rely on a social listening tool or calculate it yourself. The formula is as follows:

Engagement rate = (post engagement / post reach) x 100

Since you’re dividing engagement by the total post reach, you can use engagement rate to compare engagement across posts that have reached different-sized audiences. This is a way more relevant statistic for tracking content, and will show you which posts are most successful at engaging your audience. One thing to note: Don’t be surprised if your engagement rate is extremely low. According to 2019 social media benchmarks, the average engagement rate across all industries and social platforms was below 2 percent.

Now, take what you’ve learned and get tracking.

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