New! Local SEM Competitive Intelligence
Discover Your Competitor’s PPC Keywords & Ad Copy
Enter your #1 competitor's URL

Measuring Social Media Success

What happens after your business tweets, posts on Facebook, or shares a whitepaper on LinkedIn? Quantifying the impact of social media strategy has long been a serious challenge faced by marketing agencies and SEO strategists. While numerous social media tools and agencies purport to measure social media impact, more metrics do not translate into better information. After all, the number of fans, likes or re-tweets does not always lead to a stronger brand or increased market share.

Understanding Social Media Metrics

Unlike television and other traditional mass media advertisements, social media is not a one-way marketing tool. When businesses treat social media as another platform for shouting at potential customers, they fall short. Good social media marketing welcomes participation, builds community, and enhances an individual’s relationship with your business’s brand. In short, effective social media marketing is all about making real connections with real people.

For now, let’s stop obsessing over the number of Twitter followers or retweets your brand receives. Instead, let’s follow the advice of digital marketing analyst Avinash Kaushik and focus on key interactivity metrics that measure conversation, amplification, and applause rates. These metrics provide true insight into effective social media strategy.

Conversation Rate

The conversation rate is the number of audience replies or comments per post. From Instagram to Facebook, this rate can easily be obtained for virtually every post shared via social media. A high conversation rate requires a deep understanding of your audience and what motivates your audience to communicate with your brand. Meaningful conversations are not created overnight. They start by sharing thought-provoking, original and relevant information.

Social media is like attending a giant cocktail party: in order to get the conversation started, you need to share something interesting. Sure, provocative or even shocking topics will get your audience involved – but not always in a manner that adds value to your business! Finding the right topics for involvement may take a little time, but the pay-off for brand engagement is much greater than merely sharing your latest company blog post.

What a low conversation rate means for your business:

Are your tweets merely an RSS feed for your company’s blog or sales announcements? A low conversation rate means that followers are not motivated to comment or respond to your posts. Be sure the information you are posting is relevant and original. Encourage dialogue by ending each post with a question.

Amplification Rate

Traditional advertising is limited by the number of ads that can be purchased. Even if you bought all the airtime for every primetime television show, there are still a finite number of ads that your company could run. Social media is different. Not only does your business have its own network, but every member of your network has its own separate network. Information can easily travel beyond your network and reach a massive audience. For example, let’s say your business is new to Twitter and has only 500 followers. Depending on the strength of these follower’s networks, however, your secondary network reach could be over one million people.

Amplification rate is the number of retweets or shares per post. This rate is an important measurement because it quantifies the reach of your network. Amplification rate also provides insight into popular content. The content that is shared and retweeted most frequently adds the greatest value to your business.

What a low amplification rate means for your business:

People share information that solves a problem, is a major news story or cultural event, challenges assumptions, or simply adds a humor to their day. If your amplification rates are low, consider the quality, value and uniqueness of each post. Timing also matters. Since new spreads instantly on social media; resist the urge to rehash old news. Be sure every post has a fresh, relevant angle that adds value to your audience’s day.

Applause Rate

Applause rate measures your audience’s perception of post quality. Sure, you may think that the information you are sharing is interesting and original, but if no one likes or favorites a post, that’s a clear sign you do not fully understand your audience. While the number of “likes” your post receives may not translate into new customers, the applause rate is still an important tool for taking your audience’s pulse.

What a low applause rate means for your business:

A low applause rate indicates your posts are falling flat. Your brand is failing to resonate with your target audience. Sure, sharing the latest meme or a funny video may temporarily spike your applause rate. To truly improve applause rate, however, your business needs to focus on improving post quality.

Next Steps: How Interactivity Metrics Improve Social Media Strategy

Conversation rate, amplification rate and applause rate are three key metrics for better understanding your audience and your brand’s relationship with this audience. Remember, you do not participate in social media only to drive your business’s bottom line.

While economic metrics are important – and can easily be measured by establishing conversion goals in Google Analytics for your social media visitors – successful social media strategy is about more than increasing sales. Social media is a powerful platform for building a mutually rewarding relationship with customers. By tracking key interactivity metrics, your business will gain insight into your customer base and ultimately strengthen client relationships.


Chris Sparks, iSpionage Director of Marketing
Chris is an online marketing and content strategist here at iSpionage building awareness and engagement within our target markets. Connect with Chris or on Twitter.