‘Post it and they will come’ is a myth as old as social media itself.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for connecting with customers, winning trust and driving deep engagement. When used effectively, it’s one of the best sales and support mediums available to businesses today.

Despite this, many think that social media is all about posting as much as possible and watching your following and engagement grow.

The reality is that social media management is both an art and a science. Getting the right balance of engaging content is a challenge for even the biggest brands.

Good social is all about being reactive, knowing what your audience enjoys and responding to their behaviours. But to do that, you need to keep a close eye on the data being produced by your posts. 

We’ve outlined the most important social media metrics to keep an eye on, what they mean and how understanding them better will lead to more effective use of these ever-growing platforms.

Post Reach

Post reach is the term given to measuring how many times a particular post is seen by users on a social network, and therefore how large its reach is. Each platform records these impressions differently, but it’s a particularly important metric on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

That’s because, unlike Twitter, these social networks use an algorithm to decide which posts to show users. The higher the reach of the post, the better it’s performing against the criteria of each algorithm, meaning that it should be used as a template for future posts.

When a user first opens Facebook, they’re presented with posts which the platform thinks will be of interest to them. The algorithm determines this by looking at the kind of posts a user has interacted with in the past and presenting similar content at the top of their newsfeed.

For Facebook, this leads to more engaged users who spend more time within the app, and therefore create more revenue for the company. But this knowledge can be applied to social media planning for businesses to help take advantage of the algorithm. Similar algorithms are used to order content in feeds on Instagram and LinkedIn, pushing the most relevant content to the top of the page.

Whilst Twitter doesn’t use an algorithm as standard, it does highlight some posts in an ‘Incase You Missed It’ section. These tweets naturally gain more impressions as they’re shown both in realtime, but also to users who weren’t online at the time when the tweet was posted.

Here’s how to measure post reach on each platform.

Facebook

The reach for any single post can be found on Facebook by clicking into the “Insights” tab of your business page. Within this section you can also view the overall reach of all posts within a select time period, giving you an understanding of how your content is performing.

If you use Business Manager, select the page you want to view by clicking on it. Then click on “Insights” at the top left of the page.

Inside the Insights tab, you’ll be able to see the reach of your 5 most recent posts. Facebook breaks this down into the organic reach (the number of times it was seen by those who like your page), paid reach (the number of people shown the post as a sponsored ad) and viral (the number of people outside of your network who saw the post as a result of it being shared virally.)

LinkedIn

The reach of posts can be found in a similar place on LinkedIn. 

Clicking into the profile of a business page you manage on the platform will greet you with a list of the most recent posts on the page. Below each of these posts is the number of ‘impressions’ each has had. This number is essentially the posts’ reach.

A more general overview of post reach can be found by clicking into the “Analytics” tab. Here, you’ll be able to see accumulative post reach for set periods of time, to show you how your posts are performing over time.

Instagram

There is no way to track the number of impressions posts have had on Instagram. The closest way to estimate the overall reach of any given post is to look at the ‘views’ counter under any video you post. It’s important to consider that videos are given a different set of priorities to photos in the Instagram feed and so their reach may not be representative.

Twitter

There are a number of ways to view the number of impressions your tweets receive.

To see how many times any single tweet has been viewed, click on the small chart icon to the bottom right of the tweet. This icon will open a popup box which displays all statistics relating to that particular tweet, including the number of ‘impressions’ it has received.

For a more overall view of tweet impressions, including to see which were the most-viewed tweets of the month, visit analytics.twitter.com, where you can use the various dashboard tools to see the reach of your posts.

As Twitter doesn’t make use of an algorithm-controlled timeline, it’s likely that your post reach will go up directly in line with the number of followers you have, which isn’t necessarily the case on other platforms.

Engagement Rate

Perhaps the most important metric to track on social media is engagement rate. Whilst the number of followers, likes and post impressions are important, they mean nothing if they’re not resulting in content which makes users act.

Engagement rate measures the number of likes, shares, link clicks and other interactions with a post. These statistics show just how much users interact with posts and therefore how compelling they are.

As with all marketing, indifference is the worst reaction to social content.

That’s why it’s important to keep social posts engaging with the aim of provoking emotion at any point.

It’s always important to know the desired outcome of any social media post before you type a single word. That’s because the post should be reverse engineered to achieve the intended result.

As discussed in the previous section, many of today’s most popular social networks use algorithms to rank the order in which they display content. One of the most common ways social networks use to determine the rank (and therefore reach of any given post) is to gauge its popularity through interactions.

That means that on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, the more interactions a post gets, the higher it’ll appear on a timeline.

Here’s how to find the engagement rate of any social post.

Facebook

In the first instance, the quickest way to see real-time interactions of posts on Facebook is to look at the notifications tab. Just like with a personal Facebook profile, the notifications tab will show you who has liked, shared and commented on your posts and how they are performing.

Keeping an eye on Facebook notifications is the best way to encourage even more interaction, as replying to comments and keeping conversations flowing will push interactions even further.

To get a more analytical view of how your posts are performing, view the “Insights” tab in Business Manager. Just as with post reach stats, you can see the number of engagements each of your posts has received. Of these, you can also view the percentage of users who interacted with the post, giving you an insight into just how engaging it is.

Twitter

There are also a number of ways to track post engagement on Twitter.

The first place to look is within the Notifications tab. This is located in the top bar on desktop and the bottom bar on mobile.

Within Notifications, you can view real-time information on retweets, likes and mentions, as well as any photos you’ve been tagged in. This section is your dashboard to the world of Twitter, giving you an overview of who is talking about your business and opening the doors to two-way interactions.

To see more in-depth interaction details, click into the Tweet Activity area by clicking the icon to the bottom right of any given tweet. This will provide additional insight into media engagements, link clicks, profile clicks, replies and more.

Finally, you can see an overall picture of tweet engagement by viewing your monthly Twitter Analytics. Within Analytics you can view your most engaged with tweets, understand which types of post get the highest amount of engagement and also calculate the total number of engagements your content has received in any given month.

Analytics also helps you chart metrics such as follower growth, allowing you to see how different tweet types affect your growth.

Instagram

Tapping the love heart icon in the bottom bar of Instagram will show you all of those who have interacted with your photos and videos.

This is the only engagement data Instagram offers. There are no other tools or analytics available to see how posts are performing.

LinkedIn

Engagement rates are recorded in a number of ways on LinkedIn.

Shown within the Analytics section of any business page, LinkedIn breaks engagements down into the number of clicks a post received, the number of interactions (likes, shares, comments) and the engagement rate.

Conclusion 

Social media is already one of the most important and powerful marketing tools available to any business.

To really see the upside of social, it’s important to keep content engaging and highly relevant to those you’re targeting. Knowing the outcome of your content before you post it and taking the time to truly understand your social following will go a long way in helping you convert clicks into customers.

To effectively do this, post reach and engagement are two highly important metrics to be tracking.