Social media is a key part of any successful marketing strategy, but it isn’t always easy to know whether you’re doing it well over the course of months and years. 

It’s relatively easy to track the effectiveness of a short-term paid social media advertising push toward one specific call-to-action, but determining whether your regular, daily social media marketing efforts are making an impact. What does success look like? 

A steady and engaging presence on social media doesn’t always seem like it pays off in the short-term, but as you build a highly engaged audience over the course of months and years, social media can become one of your most important tools of conversion

Here are four important metrics to measure the success of your social media marketing efforts. These metrics can and should be part of a KPI dashboard that measures your monthly and quarterly progress in trying to reach and engage your audience through social media.

1. Audience Growth

As has often been said, “healthy things tend to grow.” So you should track your organization’s number of followers on each social media account and record how many followers you are gaining or losing.

Follower counts certainly aren’t the most vital statistic to track, but they aren’t entirely unimportant. If your follower rates remain stagnant over the course of months (or even begin to drop), it may be time to think about creative ways to engage your audience, get them to share your content, and attract new followers. 

As any social media platform matures, it can become more difficult to organically reach new followers, which may account for differences in follower rates from platform to platform. Otherwise, you may be producing a type of content that is conducive to success on one platform but, for some reason, is not translating to others. 

In your analysis, pay attention to your number of new followers as compared to the number of followers you lost. You may find that you are gaining followers but losing them at a similar rate and maintaining the same overall follower count. While a certain margin of follower drop off is to be expected, if you’re just treading water over the course of months, you may want to consider why that might be the case. 

2. Reach

Reach has to do not so much with how many social media users are following your account, but how many accounts your social media posts are actually reaching—that is, appearing in their feed. 

In your social media dashboard, you should delineate how much of your reach is organic (that is, unpaid), and how much of your reach is the result of ad campaigns or boosted posts.

How many people are actually seeing your content is a function of social media algorithms, which reward the types of content that users have indicated they want to see and engage with through previous behaviors. If you are not reaching a healthy number of accounts relative to your audience size, you may have an engagement issue.

3. Engagement

Engagement is a term used to describe the ways in which users interact with the content your organization posts to social media: things such as likes, shares, comments, and retweets. 

The way to increase engagement is to pay close attention to which posts naturally generate the most reshares or comments and then think of creative ways to produce similar types of posts. The more engaging your posts are, the more the algorithm will reward them by putting them into the feeds of users, which will in turn give you an opportunity to elicit even more engagement. 

It can be difficult to get the ball of engagement rolling down the hill, but the important thing to focus on is saying something that you think will really matter to your target audience. People tend to just scroll past things that don’t resonate with them. They only tend to interact with posts that say something they either love or hate. 

Tracking engagement numbers will help you to see exactly how effective you are at getting people to stop scrolling long enough to consider what your organization is saying. 

4. Influence 

Social influence is something of the crown jewel of social media marketing. It is the measure to which people are willing to not only stop scrolling long enough to read or watch what you have posted, or even to comment or react to it, but to actually follow through on a call-to-action. 

If you are able to achieve a high level of influence, then social media will become a powerful tool not only to connect and engage with your audience, but actually guide them to the products, services, and opportunities your organization provides that you feel will make their lives better. It’s the measure to which you can have a positive impact on their lives through the content you create. 

Social Media Is All About Building Relationships. 

Ultimately, numbers and metrics for their own sake are meaningless. The purpose of tracking social media marketing KPIs is to quantitatively evaluate how good your organization is at building and deepening relationships with your audience members online. 

Successful social media marketers not only gain greater exposure through social media but deepen the level of love that those who already know your brand feel toward your organization.