Sometimes, marketing seems like an overwhelmingly arcane process. You have dozens of metrics with numbers for everything, a half-dozen statistics for every post you make, tons of information about everyone who visits your page, and virtually no guidance for what to do with it all.
Before we begin, I’ll say right now that not all of the metrics I’m about to suggest are standard. You already know to track your profits, your average shopping cart size, and so forth. These are important, but they’re also common. What I’m about to suggest ranges from Facebook-specific to uncommon ways of looking at success.
Look at the Reach and Engagement of Your Posts
This is the first and one of the most obvious metrics on Facebook to monitor. Every time you make a post, that post is seen by some people. How many people, well, that depends on a lot of factors.
There are three types of reach. The first is organic reach. These are the people who see your post when you post it. It shows up in their news feed, and that’s that. The second is viral reach. These are the people who see your post because someone else shared it, liked it to generate a story, or otherwise interacted with it in a way that led to others seeing it. This has been decreasing as of late because many users don’t actually like seeing those stories.
The third type of reach is paid reach, and it’s a measure of all the people who see your posts directly because you paid to boost the post or turn it into a news feed ad.
To gauge the success of a post, you should look at the reach and the engagement the post gets. Consider your entire audience, and then consider reach as a percentage. This is easy enough; Facebook gives you the number in Insights. Higher percentage reach is better, so study the posts that get the most reach and figure out why.
Note: be cautious when comparing reach long-term. Facebook is known for making changes that decrease reach overall. A 6% reach now might be average, while a 6% reach next year might be above average. Always take numbers in context.
As for engagement, look at engagement as a percentage of reach. Out of the X number of people who see your post, how many of them engage? A better engagement rate is always good.
Share of voice is a metric few people think about when they consider marketing success, but it’s actually pretty interesting to look at. Consider this; there’s a finite number of people talking about your industry online. How many of those people are talking about you, compared to how many are talking about your competitors?
In order to find this out, you can use a tool like Social Mention. Run searches for your brand and your competitors, total up the number of mentions, and figure out what percent each of you occupy. You can dig in further by segmenting voice share by channel; who is more dominant on Twitter versus Facebook versus the Internet at large?
Look at the Growth of Your Fanbase
This one seems simple, but is more complex the more you think about it. It seems easy just to track your follower count, assuming more is better. The problem is, more isn’t always better. When you catch the eye of a clickfarm and your ads end up clicked through by a bunch of underpaid wage slaves in India, your follower count skyrockets but your reach correspondingly drops.
Ideally, every day you should spend a little bit of time going through your most recent followers and auditing them. Some of them are probably going to be fake accounts or bots. Some of them are going to be fake accounts that look real. It’s just the way things go on Facebook. Remove the ones that are obviously fake.
Spend some time in Insights looking at the specific demographics of the people who see and engage with your posts. It might surprise you how different they can be from your general audience Insights. Consider using these refined demographics for future advertising.
Look at the Average Comment Sentiment
Sentiment analysis is the idea of categorizing comments you receive based on whether they’re positive, negative or neutral. A high engagement rate isn’t very good when 90% of the comments you get are people complaining that your product doesn’t work, arrives broken, or is shipped late.
The problem with sentiment analysis on Facebook is that it’s hard to track. A lot of times, when people are neutral or slightly pleased with your service, they’ll be silent. Meanwhile, if they have something negative to say, they’ll say it publicly in hopes of attracting your attention and essentially holding your reputation ransom. This tends to mean that Facebook sentiment is negative or neutral more than positive for small businesses.
Thankfully, you can swing the tide by addressing negative comments in a timely fashion. Remove the most abusive, respond to the most reasonable, and make your customer service public. This helps users feel impressed and valued, and they’ll be more likely to comment positively.
Look at the Conversion Rates of Your Ads
Okay, so this one is pretty standard, but I’m including it specifically to include a caution; click-through rate isn’t as valuable as it seems. That’s why I’m specifying conversion rate. You can have all the people in the world click through to your ads, but if they don’t buy anything, they’re just sapping your ad budget.
Conversion rate is easy to track on Facebook by using the conversion pixel and placing it in your confirmation page. Use remarketing later to catch the people who left early – they tend to have a much higher conversion rate than new users – to maximize your conversions.
This is where I look to you, dear reader. What is your favorite metric to track for success? I know I left off some important basic metrics, but then, you already know what they are. I’m more interested in the sideline metrics most people don’t think to check.