What You Think Matters Doesn’t — Meet Social Media’s Better KPIs ft. Notion Data (@UseNotion)

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazdesky).

What social media KPIs would you, personally, like to brag about to your boss? More followers than Katy Perry? An original, semi-clever tweet for every minute of the day (and double on Sundays)? The fact that you’re only following one person — the CEO — but you’ve got 636,558 followers, CRUSHING the followers-to-following ratio?

And what if I were to tell you that those are totally pointless?

Chuck ’em. Toss’em. Line the birdcage with them, because they’re yesterday’s news.

Not only are these numbers not true indicators of success, they won’t help you build a more engaged, loyal following on social media. And they won’t help your bottom line.

But other metrics can.

Here are the three social media KPIs that matter:

  1. Amplification
  2. Applause
  3. Economic Value

Amplification — Is there an echo in here?

What it is: Amplification is the number of shares/retweets a post gets on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

What it measures: Amplification measures the rate at which your followers share your content through their networks.

What it really measures is the value, relevancy, and entertainment value of your content. Aim to surprise, delight and inform — and do it with LOLCats, because they’re a surefire win.*

*Don’t hold me to this.

Why it matters: When your goal is to appear before as many eyes (preferably qualified lead eyes) as possible, you can either buy a lot of ads, or create really great content. Buying ads can help and is sometimes necessary, but there are limits to how many you can buy. And, people don’t like ads, so the odds of people ignoring your ads are not in your favor.

But shares, now that’s a KPI with some weight behind it.

Have you ever seen a fractal? One tiny pattern that grows and repeats and grows and repeats ad infinitum? That’s how amplification works. You start by sharing a post with your network, and a percentage of your network shares it with their networks, who share it with their networks. Its potential to reach viewers is practically unlimited.

And, since people only share things that are pertinent to their friends, those viewers are more qualified than the average person on Twitter. You get the picture. They’re your ideal audience, sharing with more of your ideal audience who may not even know about you yet.

How to measure it: Record how many times, on average, each of your posts is shared/retweeted. This works especially well if you’re using a KPI dashboard that allows you to create custom metrics, track their progress and easily share them with your team as a way to motivate everyone.

Applause — Not just for actors anymore

What it is: How many likes/favorites/+1s each post receives on average.

What it measures: Likes/Favorites/+1s mean many things, all of them good. They can mean your audience agrees with what you’ve said, thinks your post was funny, or found your post to be valuable. In other words, the more Likes you get, the more likeable you are, the more your people identify with you, and the higher their engagement with your brand will be.

Why it matters: This information will also add insight into the quality of your posts and how well they fit into the desires, wants, and ideologies of your target customers. Essentially, is your ‘brand personality’ jiving with your audience? Are you likeable? Because thanks to Cialdini, we know: “people buy from people they like.”

How to measure it: Number of Likes/Favorites/+1s are easily available on social media platforms. You just need a way to track them all in one convenient place (ie. not an Excel spreadsheet that you have to manually update). Again, our recommendation is a KPI dashboarding environment like Notion with the flexibility to create your own custom metrics and build beautiful visualizations for easy sharing with your team.

Economic Value — Yes. Trust me.

What it is: The sum of short and long term revenue and cost savings.

What it measures: This SaaS metric calculates how much economic value results from visitors from social networks landing on your site and completing target conversions.

Why it matters: Because nobody cares how much you’re liked or shared if all your social time, money and effort aren’t actually driving revenue! The hard fact is, the vast majority of your followers and fans aren’t going to convert into paying customers any time soon, or maybe ever. But some will. And others will say “hey, this isn’t for me, but I’m totally recommending it to my friend because this company rocks!”

How to measure it: It starts with identifying macro and micro conversions. Macro conversions are the ones you recognize right off the bat. People click. People buy. Credit card numbers are entered and accepted. But micro conversions are where economic value gets interesting, because these are behaviors that are predictive of macro conversions. For example, people coming from social media to your website to research your products and services (maybe before they buy offline).

Essentially, you’ll want to look at every activity performed on your site and track which ones are indicative of success. And, you can segment by social media channel. For example, you might notice that Twitter users come to your website and go straight to your Product page, spend a few minutes reading it, and leave. But Facebook users dive straight for your blog.

Macro conversions are easy in comparison — you’re just measuring outcomes.

But there’s another factor here that is important to economic value: The money you save on more traditional forms of advertising by using social media to reach, attract and convert potential (and successful) buyers.

So, Micro conversions + Macro conversions + money saved = economic value.

You’ll have to think through how you measure each of those values and commit to a period of experimentation once you implement a particular method. This process of evaluation and discussion will prove invaluable to your understanding of the worth of your current efforts, but may also shed light on other choices you make with your marketing dollars.

It can be challenging to know what SaaS metrics you should measure to give you insight into your performance and goals. There’s a tendency to focus on vanity metrics like followers or number of tweets without also looking deeper and putting those numbers into a data driven framework.

The idea is to always focus on value. What does each number tell you about your One Metric that Matters? How does this KPI get you closer to your goals? And of course, let us know if you’ve got questions or we can help you build a data-driven framework for understanding your social media success.


This article was originally published on Notion — Get your product team on the same page.


I’m available for a limited number of SaaS consulting retainers, writing engagements, and I offer Twitter curation + growth (500–1,000 or more followers / mo.) with an authentic approach so that your feed doesn’t look like everyone else’s.