14 November 2018

Four social media metrics that matter more than ‘likes’

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I have banned the words ‘reach’, ‘likes’ and ‘social actions’ at the University of Sydney.

When I’m asked to report on how many ‘likes’ a post or campaign got, I break out into a sweat and worry I’m turning into a lipstick wearing, floral dress loving version of The Hulk.

It’s not because I don’t want people to like our content, like some sort of social media Grinch. It’s because the way that people interact with content social media has changed ( link:  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/308393 ).  Metrics like reach and likes are impulses split second reactions as content moves through the feed. They don’t tell us anything about the wants and needs of our audience.

Here are four metrics to use in your next content report that mean much, much more than likes.

Landing page views and CTRs

Anyone can click ‘like’ on a pretty picture or a funny meme, but it takes an invested audience to actually click through to your webpage( link: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/361750134220832 ) (an environment not owned or controlled by Facebook. )

Furthermore, what percentage of the audience who saw your post clicked through? This is called the Click Through Rate (CTR) ( link: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/928745330472862 ) . A low CTR means people are seeing your post and not acting on it because it doesn’t resonate (or you’re perhaps targeting the wrong audience).  A high CTR means it’s hitting the mark.

Both of these metrics can be charted in the Facebook insights tab. Rather than comparing your page’s metrics to industry benchmarks or competitors, start by competing with yourself. Work out what your existing average is and start experimenting with content and audiences to improve it.


“How many likes will I get for $100 on Facebook?” This is another question that feeds the social media Hulk in me.

 Look beyond the likes and prove return on investment for your social media activities by analysis how much you’re paying in terms of cost per click (CPC) and cost per view (CPV) ( link: https://adespresso.com/blog/facebook-ads-cost/ ).

When it comes to Facebook ads, the platform works like an auction rather than a store.  You identify who your audience is and can manually adjust how much you’re willing to pay compared to competitors for a specific action (click, view etc) from that audience.  This, and the relevance of your content (as well as many other factors) determine how much you’ll pay per action.

To see return on investment; take a look at these stats in your page’s Ad or Business Manager tool. Take note of the CPC for content and the CPV for video and aim to work out what wording, creative and audience attributes get the lowest cost per engagement for your brand.

Tagging in comments

The way consumers ( particularly millennials ) are using social media has changed ( link: https://medium.com/@dooleymr/a-new-era-in-social-media-why-millennials-arent-sharing-anymore-15ffe99b9165 ). Have you noticed people don’t post status updates or even share posts anymore?

In the wake of Cambridge Analytica ( link: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/18/what-is-cambridge-analytica-firm-at-centre-of-facebook-data-breach ) and with the rising importance of personal branding and maintaining a squeaky clean digital footprint, sharing content with all of your network is waning.  Facebook users are now far more likely to tag relevant friends in the comments section of content that resonates than share it on their ‘walls’.

Instead of reporting on how many likes you latest post or video got, keep a record of how many people tagged others in the comments to gauge its impact and relevance.

Average watch time

A view on Facebook is three seconds. How much information can you really get from something in that time? Your video may have got 50,000 views, but how many of the people who watched it got past the title slide?  ( link: https://marketingland.com/6-metrics-measure-success-facebook-videos-224452)

Instead of reporting on video likes, or even views, look into your Facebook analytics to determine how many of the total views watched for 10 seconds or more, and what the average watch time is (prepare to be disappointed, Facebook studies have revealed it’s about 10 seconds across the board).

Again, chart what your existing average watch time is, and work at creating video content that gets the call to action across in the first few seconds, and then aims at engaging the audience for more than ten. Make your videos as short and snappy as possible and watch the average view times soar.

What metrics do you report on for social media? How do you track audience engagement and content resonance? I’d love to hear from you on LinkedIn @ HERE

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Jenna Bradwell, Social Media Specialist, Marketing and Communications Division at The University of Sydney                                                                                               

Jenna is a social media specialist with a passion for crowd sourced content, social media activations and effective paid social strategy. Outside of work she is a wine lover, culture-enthusiast and passionate hater of Instagram's 'Valencia' filter.

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