Making Sense of Your Social Media Metrics

Joakim Nilsson

Social media comes with a sea of metrics, and it can sometimes be frustrating making some sense out of it. In this post, I aim to describe how you can effectively measure the quantitative social media metrics from your owned social media channels (i.e. your typical Facebook Page, Twitter profile and Youtube channel).

We’ll be focusing solely on quantitative social media metrics; ones that can be collected from each of your owned social media channels. We’re not covering monitoring data or sentiment and we’re not building a ROI-report. We’re simply trying to consolidate all of your quantitative social media metrics into a reporting dashboard, hence making your data more legible and actionable. If you’re starting out with measuring social media metrics, this post is for you!

4 categories of quantitative social media metrics (owned channels)

I’ve found that regardless what channel your maintaining, categorizing your metrics data into 4 groups seems to makes sense in most cases. These are:

  • Activities
  • Engagement
  • Reach
  • Network size


These are simple counts of how many times you have posted something in your channels. This could be anything from a Twitter-reply to the upload of a video. You are correct in noting that a simple tweet most often requires less effort than producing a whole video clip. One way of making the reporting somewhat more accurate would be to attribute an individual score for each channel’s activity. A video may be worth 10p whilst a Tweet only 2 points. I urge you though to commence without any weighting of the metrics and see how you go along.


How your community interacts with your published activities are key metrics to measure. The Engagement category aims at consolidating metrics such as Clicks, Comments, Likes, Re-tweets and votes. Together, these interactions form your Engagement score.


Although you’ll never get an accurate number on exactly how many people you’re reaching, collecting the different reach metrics from each channel and benchmarking over time is very valuable. Each channel has its own ways of calculating reach. You’ll look at Youtube’s video and channel views, Facebook’s newsfeed impressions and Twitter’s mention audience. They won’t tell you how many unique people that have seen your message, rather how many potential impressions there have been. And it doesn’t really matter either, the purpose is to have a number that you measure the same way each day/week/month so you can benchmark yourself.

Network size

This is probably the most straight forward metric: how many Facebook fans does your page have? How many Twitter followers do you have and how many have subscribed to your Youtube channel? For blogs, we can look at RSS/E-mail subscribers; Flickr has contacts and Google+ "People that circled this page." They’re all quantifiable numbers that measure the total size of your network. It’s also the metric that is being mostly debated; "how can I get more fans" is a question everyone involved in social media activities has gotten at least once a week. Now, you have a measuring framework to put number of Facebook fans into a sound perspective.

Where do I get the metrics from?

The purpose of the 4 categories of quantitative social media metrics is to be able to create a consolidated report cross all owned social media channels. You can get most of these metrics straight from each channel’s own reporting interface. Facebook Insights is absolutely brilliant and offers more data than what we’ve covered above. But Facebook will tell you that certain things are more important than others, Youtube gives you another story and Twitter has nothing for the time being. You simply have to create your own reporting interface based on what you need to know in order to take better decisions, not just measure what is possible to measure.

If you don’t fancy logging in to each channel and manually collecting the metrics, there are some great tools that can do part of the job. Have a look at these:

The above tools will only do just what you need; to aggregate and consolidate your quantitative social media metrics. We’re not looking into tools for sentiment, monitoring or influence measurement in this post (such as Klout, Radian6, Crimsom Hexagon, Converseon to name a few).

How do I report on the quantitative social media metrics?

If you use any of the above tools they have built in reporting functions. Though, if your activities extends beyond simply a Facebook Page and a Twitter profile I’m pretty sure you soon want to create you’re own reporting score card in Excel, or why not try to build a dashboard directly in QlikView or Bime Analyticsthat connects straight to the API’s of the social platforms (If you do, please ping me!).

Mindmap guide

I’ve built a public mindmap over the 4 categories of social media metrics in owned channelsto further illustrate the idea. Just click the nodes in the interactive map below to expand them. The channels included are just examples, you can include any channel where you have social media activities going on.

The web is constantly evolving and what we’re calling social media today will just be the norm of Internet tomorrow. I’m a student of the constant ongoing change. So if you’ve feedback and comments on the above please jump into the comment field.

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