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Beyond the Buzz: 41 Social Media Metrics Defined

Keeping up with new social media and analytics buzzwords, learning what they all mean, and understanding their importance can easily become overwhelming. To make your life easier, we’ve identified and defined 41 of the most important ones and explained why they matter.

By the way, with our cross-channel social media reporting you can track and analyze all of these plus more, as there are 750 different metrics available.

Audience Metrics:

The people who chose to join the social media community for a particular brand. Each social channel has it’s own terminology: Facebook – Fans or Likes; Twitter – Followers; Google+ – Circlers; YouTube – Subscribers; and Pinterest – Followers.

1. Audience Growth: The rate at which a brand adds (or loses) audience members.

2. Engagement as % of Audience: Adding up total engagement actions across all social networks and then dividing that by total audience.

3. Engagement per Fan/Follower: Adding up total engagement actions for one network and dividing by the number of fans (or followers) for that particular network.

Social Listening & Monitoring:

Social listening (aka monitoring) is the practice of identifying engagement opportunities and monitoring brand perceptions across all social channels, not just the ones a brand owns. Active listening and monitoring helps brands better understand what is going in the marketplace. Related metrics include:

4. Sentiment Analysis: Detecting and understanding how the audience is reacting to a brand, either positively or negatively.

5. Presence: The complete collection of a brand’s presence across all the social networks.

6. Reach: The total combined amount of a brand’s audience, compounded by the friends of the audience and anyone in the greater community who is talking about or engaging with the brand.

7. Resonance: How a particular message triggers a reaction across the entire social graph, all the while creating valuable touchpoints that drive back to the original content location.

Engagement Metrics:

Also known as the currency of social media. By more deeply understanding the different types of engagement, a brand can better understand how effective their interactions are at impacting downstream activities. Related metrics include:

8. Facebook Engagement: Combination of all the activity on a brand’s Fan Page: shares, PTAT, comments, clicks and likes. For more Facebook definitions, visit our 60+ Insights Definitions post.

9. Twitter Engagement: Combination of all the activity on a brand’s Twitter account: ReTweets, mentions, replies and clicks. Curious to learn more about your Twitter presence? Try our Free Twitter Follower Report!

10. Google+ Engagement: Combination of all the activity on a brand’s G+ page: Reshares, comments, and +1s.

11. YouTube Engagement: Combination of all the activity on a brand’s YouTube channel: comments, ratings, and shares.

12. Pinterest Engagement: Combination of all the activity on a brand’s Pinterest page: repins, comments, and likes.

13. Click Through Rate: The number of clicks on a post divided by the number of impressions for the post.

14. Engagement Rate: Engagement activities on a particular social channel divided by the associated audience. This can be looked at holistically for an entire presence, for a specific channel, or for a specific post or activity type.

15. Engagement Decay: The progressive decrease over time in engagement rate for a piece of content or collection of content.

16. People Talking About This (PTAT): The number of unique users who “create a story about you” on Facebook.

17. Keyword Frequency: The number of times that a particular keyword or phrase is found within your social graph.

18. Distribution of Comments: How comments relate to one another, across a variety of social channels.

Content Performance:

Tracking and analyzing the success (or failure) of a piece of content. Understanding what causes certain content to succeed and others to fail gives brands better insight into where they should devote time and resources to reach their goals. Related metrics include:

19. Post Mix: The makeup of your outbound content types. Each channel has it’s own terminology: Facebook – Posts; Twitter –  Tweets; Google+ – Posts; YouTube – Uploads; and Pinterest – Pins.

20. Interactions: The way in which a brand responds to and builds relationships with their social audience.

21. Day Parting: Measuring the effectiveness of an outbound message at different times of the day to understand what the optimum posting time and frequency is. An example of this is available with our Day Parting report example for major cereal brands.

Gain perspective on your brand’s content performance with our Free Facebook Content Analysis.

Total Exposure Metrics & Social Graph

Total exposure is the size of a brand’s primary audience combined with the greater community that a brand has the potential to reach and engage. The social graph is the interconnected relationship between a brand, their audience, and the greater community. Understanding both these elements, helps brands realize their social media potential and puts context around where they fit in the greater social community. Related metrics include:

22. Amplification: The way in which, through audience engagement, a piece of content reaches the secondary and tertiary (and on) levels of a brand’s social presence. This can vary by channel, RTs on Twitter, Shares on FB, Shares on G+, Repins on Pinterest, but the goal is the same.

23. Post Reach: The estimated number of individuals who see a piece of outbound content at least once, during a specific period of time.

24. True Reach: The actual number of individuals who see a piece of outbound content, during a specific period of time.

25. Potential Reach: The total potential number of individuals in a brand’s audience that could have the opportunity to see a piece content, during a specific period of time.

26. Potential Impressions: The number of times a piece of content could be displayed, regardless of whether or not it is interacted with, during a specific time period.

Customer Service

The worlds of customer service and marketing are becoming more interconnected as consumers expect responses to inquiries through “marketing” channels. To build a strong social community, brands must think about the customer service implications and incorporate CS goals into their  strategy.  Related metrics include:

27. Response Time: How quickly a brand responds to engagement activities and inquiries from their audience.

28. Response Rate: The percent of audience inquiries are responded to within a certain amount of time.

29. Activity by Hour: How a brand’s responsiveness (on average) changes over the course of a day.

30. Activity by Day: How a brand’s responsiveness (on average) changes over the course of a week.


Understanding the similarities and differences of an audience is a key component for crafting messages that resonate, and executing social campaigns that drive engagement. Related metrics include:

31. Klout Score / Influencers: Klout is a mechanism for measuring how influential a person or brand is on a particular social channel. It provides brands with a way of identifying existing influencers in their audience as well as identifying new ones. Curious to learn how influential your followers are with our Free Klout Report.

32. Geographic Distribution: Where in the world the audience is physically located.

33. Topical Influencer: Who the influencers are on a particular subject.

Competitive Analysis:

Competitive analysis and benchmarking allows brands to monitor and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns against the competition. This type of analysis provides valuable insights and gives context to how a brand’s metrics relate to others in their specific market, or the greater social community. Related metrics include:

34. Share of Voice: How big a brand’s slice of the conversation is compared to their competition.

35. Share of Engagement: How does a brand’s engagement metrics compare to their competition.

36. Share of Audience: How does a brand’s audience compare to their competition.

Additional Key Phrases:

There are many other important buzzwords and catch-phrases. Here are a few of our favorites and why they matter.

37. Big Data: Commonly refers to situations with datasets so large that standard database management applications have a hard time processing. In the world of social-media, big data refers to the complex and inconsistent data structures that one brand must compile and measure against to tell their story.

38. ROSI (Return on Social Investment): Calculating this metric can be tricky. Taking known social media expenses and mapping that against revenue generated by social endeavors, will give an estimated ROSI. Calculating this metric at the campaign level gives brands perspective and understanding as to which campaigns are most effective for particular goals.

39. Attribution: Tracking and understanding what campaigns on which channels are responsible for a brand’s social media successes and failures.

40. Virality: The rate at which a brand’s content spreads across the social graph. In some instances the success of a piece of content is tied how viral it becomes.

41. Crowdsourcing: Using a brand’s audience to create new content.

With over 25 premium reports and 8 free social media reports, we make it easy to take this data and tie it all together.

Adam Schoenfeld

Adam is the Co-Founder and VP of Strategy at Simply Measured. In 2010 (aka the dark ages of social marketing), Adam joined Damon Cortesi and Aviel Ginzburg to found "Untitled Startup, Inc" with the goal of helping marketers and analysts use social data to do their best work. The company quickly evolved to become Simply Measured and the trusted leader in social analytics. Outside of Simply Measured, Adam is a golfer, breakfast enthusiast, and long-time data geek.

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