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The social media KPIs you really need to look at

4 key performance indicators for clever social media marketers

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Portrait von Cornelia Maier. | © punkt & komma
Cornelia Maier
Head of content marketing

Tracking is good, interpreting and acting on it is better! At least when it comes to social media. That's why we haven't summarised the "100 most important social media KPIs" or "50 KPIs that should be analysed". No – instead, we focus on four performance indicators that marketing on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like really can't do without.

Engagement / interaction rate

It is not without reason that this KPI is mentioned at the very beginning of this article. In a nutshell, the engagement rate includes all user interactions with your campaigns or social media channels. Likes, comments and shares, but also clicks on fan pages or e-mail buttons. This performance indicator is important because, in contrast to reach, it indicates how well your content is received within your target audience. Reach can be bought, interaction can't – or only to a limited extent! So the engagement rate should definitely not be missing in any reporting.

Depending on the chosen method or social media tool, you can calculate the engagement rate for the entire channel or just for specific posts. For the interaction rate, you always put the total number of interactions in relation to reach or followers (engagement rate on reach vs. engagement rate on fans).

How to calculate the interaction rate: 

interactions (likes, shares, comments, clicks, ...) /

followers or reach

* 100

= engagement rate


This example shows you the sum total of all interactions on Facebook. Based on that, the engagement rate can easily be calculated and compared with the previous period. Always keep an eye on the type of interaction: For some companies, a comment is the most valuable asset, while others set specific traffic targets. To the latter, the number of clicks matters more than the number of reactions.

Note for all marketers working with tools:
„Social media tools often use different parameters to calculate the engagement rate, so the numbers may vary slightly!“

Post reach

First, we have to dispel a myth: Social media reach is not a clear-cut, entirely unambiguous indicator of how many people have actually seen your posts! Rather, reach tells you how many people have been shown your post in their feed. Sounds complicated? It isn't! Think about your Instagram user behaviour: Certainly, you often see posts in your feed that you don't really notice at all. However, this brief appearance in your feed is included in the reach of the post in question. 

What do we learn from this? Reach is an important performance indicator, but it's only one indicator that tells you how relevant the social media algorithm thinks your posts are.

How to calculate the average reach: 

sum total of the reach of all posts / number of posts = post reach

post reach / followers * 100 = reach rate

Tip: Be sure to take a closer look at the composition of the reach. Meaning, you should find out to which parts it consist of organic, paid or viral reach.

A few words on viral reach: Viral reach indicates how many people see your content because someone else is talking about it, sharing something or giving it a like. They themselves are not (yet) fans of your accounts. For instance, if you create a post for a raffle, experience shows that viral reach will be high compared to the organic reach.

Fan growth

Generally speaking, fans on social media are a hotly debated topic: Many marketers classify them as a so-called "vanity metric", i.e. a performance indicator that looks nice but doesn't contribute any real added value to the company's success. On the other hand, a small number of fans can also have a negative impact on the brand's image. So always ask yourself how valuable a high fan count is for your company: The more specific and "niche" your topic, the less important a high fan count. An example: A photographer for industrial machinery uses his Instagram account as a portfolio of his work. Due to his niche target group (B2B, very specific service), a high number of followers on Instagram is only of secondary importance to him. In contrast, a children's fashion label with its own online shop can certainly benefit from lots of fans. 

You should always take a declining number of followers as an opportunity to rethink your strategy. Most likely, the posts of your channels are no longer in line with the expectations of your followers – or maybe, the needs of your target group have changed. At regular intervals, the Instagram and Facebook algorithms also clean the platforms of spam and fake followers. We are not so much looking at the absolute number of fans, but at the growth in percentage terms compared to the previous period.

In the example below, we were able to create a relatively large number of new fans in a short period of time by collaborating with an influencer.

Social media conversion rate

"What's the point of social media?!" Every social media marketer has probably heard this or a similar question many times before. And it's certainly justified! One way of proving the effectiveness of social media is the conversion rate. It provides information on how many pre-defined goals have been achieved in relation to the traffic. Similar to the context of the web, a conversion can be defined in various ways. For instance, as a newsletter or webinar sign-up, an enquiry or an actual purchase. In this case: the higher the relative number, the better the result. The prerequisite for a simple calculation is a clean implementation of analysis tools and social media pixels (if available).

How to calculate the conversion rate: 

sum total of conversions generated through social media / sum total of traffic generated through social media = conversion rate

Recommended reading for clever content marketers: In this article, we get to the bottom of several other content KPIs.

As you can see: Sometimes a certain tendency towards minimalism can't hurt, and it frees you of unnecessary reporting clutter. Let's discuss your opinion on this – for instance, on LinkedIn or via e-mail!

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