Why Impressions Should be Your First Social Media Metric

Every time I speak with someone about social media measurement, the same question always comes up – what should I be measuring? If you work with social media at all, you’ve asked yourself this question or been asked this question. You’ve also heard every response from “the number of fans,” to “engagement,” to “people talking about this.” I use Facebook as the example because it’s where most people first start out in terms of social media and measurement.

Let’s go back to why you’re using social media to begin with. Social media is a marketing and communications channel. It’s comparable to paid media, email, or public relations. It’s a channel to reach consumers with a message. People tend to think of social media as being “so different” because it’s a two-way communication channel.

In reality, social media is not all that different, so why are we trying to measure it differently? Why are we trying to convince our SVPs of marketing to invest more money in a channel that is misunderstood, while using metrics that sound as lofty as the clouds in the sky?

When building your social media goals:

Tie your social media goals to the overall goals of your organization

Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Increase sales by 10%? Improve brand sentiment? Your social media goals should compliment and augment your organization’s goals so that same SVP can understand the relevance of social media and where it fits into the overall marketing plan. 

Use metrics your SVP understands and is already using across other marketing channels

This will help prove the impact of social media and – hopefully – continue to drive financial and resource support in the space. There are still a number of metrics you could use that easily translate across marketing channels such as traffic and sales, and you should be measuring these too, but it’s important to first focus on impressions.

Focus on impressions

Impressions are the metric used most widely in public relations. Public relations puts content out into the world and if the content is timely, relevant, and engaging, the content will perform well. The media then picks it up and drives impressions for the brand based on the content. Sound familiar? Impressions are comparable to views on paid media or opens in email marketing. The difference is that impressions put social media on a more even playing field.

Measuring Impressions

Even better? Measuring impressions is completely manageable, as most of the social channels have it built into their site. Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have Analytics allowing users to measure impressions. Twitter’s “potential impressions” can be measured through Crowdbooster. Views are the main engagement action on YouTube, making them the equivalent of impressions – a consumer seeing your marketing, and should be measured as such. 

Awareness From Impressions

Brand awareness is often a leading objective of social media in order to drive new consumers. Continuing to drive impressions will be a key to brand success. Increased impressions will lead to increased engagement and community size along with all the other metrics we use to prove that social media is, in fact, relevant. But first –consumers need to know your brand exists.

To sum it up, (1) tie your social goals to overall organization goals, (2) talk the same language as your SVP and the other marketing channels, and (3) measure impressions. There are many other metrics to measure, but bring the impression number to the table with your colleagues and hopefully they’ll finally begin to understand the value of the many hours you spend “playing on Facebook.”

I’d love to hear what metrics you’ve been using to measure your social media success and what questions and challenges you’re facing as you strive to prove the importance of social media.