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Social media has become an integral part of modern business. Mainly, because social media marketing provides an opportunity to reach millions of people with the click of a button. 

Smart businesses see this potential and are leveraging social media to promote their brand, engage with customers, generate more leads, and drive more sales. 

However, along with the rise of social media marketing comes the need to understand important social media metrics. From likes to direct website traffic and conversions, these metrics track just about everything a brand needs to measure its social media success. As valuable as these metrics are, they are often misunderstood. 

Social media efforts can be skewed or underrepresented if tracking is done incorrectly or the right triggers are not set. Due to the competitive nature of social media campaigns, it is essential for businesses to have reliable data to make decisions. After all, tweaking creatives and ad copy, altering demographic filters, changing bidding strategies, and moving posting times can all impact the effectiveness of your efforts.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to interpret and use social media metrics effectively. We’ll also touch on some of the best social media analytic tools to consider. 

Understanding the Different Types of Social Media Metrics

Before you can use social media metrics effectively, you need to understand what each metric measures. This helps deliver more content that resonates with your audience.

While covering each individual social media metric is beyond the scope of this article, here are some of the most common metrics used today:


Impressions refer to the number of times your content was displayed on a user’s screen. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the user interacted with your content. It only displays how many times it was visible on the screen of users. 


Impressions may count a single user more than once. Reach refers to the number of unique users who saw your content. This metric provides insight into how many individuals your content reached overall. 


Engagement refers to the number of interactions users had with your content. This includes likes, shares, comments, and clicks. Engagement metrics are some of the most important social media metrics to have a pulse on.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR refers to the number of clicks your content received divided by the number of impressions. This metric is useful for measuring how effective your content is at getting users to take action. A higher CTR generally signifies high-quality or engaging content. 


Conversions refer to the number of users who took a specific action after engaging with your content. This could be anything from making a purchase to filling out a form. 

Follower Growth

Follower growth refers to the number of new followers your account gained over a specific period. While you can use it to measure how effective your social media marketing strategy is at attracting new followers, as we’ll later discuss, follower growth isn’t everything. 

Social Listening & Beyond: Advanced Social Media Metrics

Social listening is a relatively new and more complex social media metric. The purpose of social listening is to monitor and analyze social media channels for mentions of a specific brand, product, or industry. 

To perform social listening, businesses monitor and analyze these social media channels using automated social media analytics tools. These tools gather useful data that answers who is speaking, what they’re saying, and where they’re saying it.

Social listening is an AI-driven social media metric. It offers deep insight into your customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points. This enables you to develop targeted marketing strategies, improve customer service, and address potential issues across a variety of social media platforms.

Social listening can also track brand sentiment, identify key influencers in your industry, and monitor competitors. It’s an essential component of modern-day social media efforts, to deploy analytics tools to dig up deeper-level insights for better end results.

Social Listening Informs Brand Sentiment

Brand sentiment analysis reflects the overall attitude towards a brand, product, or service based on social media conversations. 

Natural language processing and machine learning algorithms are used to analyze sentiment, enabling businesses to monitor their brand reputation over time. Basically, the data is a bellwether for how audiences feel about a brand. 

By tracking brand sentiment, you can gain insights into customer perceptions and experiences, which can inform marketing and customer service strategies. Addressing negative sentiment can also improve customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Social listening and brand sentiment are the new school of social media metrics. Tracking and measuring them requires one or more of the tools we introduce below.

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Interpreting Social Media Metrics

With an understanding of basic and more advanced social media metrics under your belt, the next step is to interpret the data. In the end, these metrics are only valuable if you understand the story that they tell.

Social media platforms can deliver a wide range of key metrics to your business, but not all are equally relevant or important. Additionally, it is important to view these values both independently and through the lens of symbiosis. Below are some tips to help make sense of those stories:

Look for Trends

Don’t miss the forest in the trees. Are your engagement rates increasing or decreasing? Is your follower count growing or stagnant? Are you tracking the content that generates the highest CTR? Look for trends over time. By looking at the bigger picture, you can make more informed decisions about your social media strategy.

Your target audience is going to change behaviors day-to-day, and social metrics will display that. However, humans are patterned creatures, and over time you will be able to pick up if your social media performance is trending in a positive direction.

Consider Your Audience

Social media metrics are only meaningful if they align with your business goals. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, then reach and impressions may be more valuable than engagement rate. On the other hand, if your goal is to increase sales, then conversions and click-through rates are better key performance indicators (KPI)

Use Metrics to Inform Your Strategy

Once you’ve interpreted your social media metrics, the next step is to use them to finetune your social media strategy. For instance, say you notice that your engagement rates are low. You may need to reevaluate the type of content you’re sharing. If your CTRs are low, you may need to experiment with different calls to action (CTAs), content types, design work, etc.

A/B testing with your social campaigns is critical to finding the right combination of creative and analytic levers that deliver intended results.

The Dangers of Misinterpreting Social Media Metrics

Misinterpreting social media metrics can lead to wasted time, resources, and money. As noted above, brands shouldn’t focus on just one single metric. The data doesn’t exist in a silo. The goal is to get a holistic view of the data that ties all your efforts together. 

Consider follower counts. Brands that focus on quantity over quality may end up with a large following but few actual customers, few engaged users, a low response rate, and other metrics that ultimately don’t get the bills paid. The only way to know if more followers equate to more conversions (or sales) is through tracking other social media metrics.

However, that is not to say that a large social following isn’t valuable. It can send a strong social signal that validates your brand. Just don’t get carried away with piling on followers for followers’ sake. That’s when it becomes just another vanity metric. 

Beware of Vanity Metrics

Like a hoarding social following with no intention to convert, vanity metrics are data points that look good on paper but don’t necessarily drive business results. 

Likes are the biggest culprit here. Sure, having a million likes on a post can look good. But if those likes don’t translate into more business or conversions, then that usually just means you’re laying ruin to your return on ad spend (ROAS). Knowing how to interpret the data is mandatory.

The Best Tools for Tracking Social Media Metrics

Fortunately, there are third-party tools that help make sense of social media metrics. They also provide a host of other feature-rich benefits like social listening tools and brand sentiment analysis. However, these tools are usually only available with paid versions. 

An additional bonus is that, aside from Google Analytics, these tools also centralize social media planning and scheduling with convenient integrations with most platforms. 

Here’s a list of some of the best tools for tracking social media metrics:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that tracks web traffic and user behavior. Typically, this tool is primarily used for tracking and managing search engine optimization (SEO). However, it can also be used to track social media referrals and conversions.


  • Free to use, no paid version required
  • Integrates with Google Ads and other Google tools
  • Provides detailed insights into user behavior


  • Can be overwhelming for beginners.*
  • Does not offer social listening or brand sentiment analysis
  • Doesn’t provide real-time data

*Funnily enough, Hootsuite (the next tool) is an excellent step-by-step guide. The simple guide from Hootsuite lays out the entire setup and management process.

Hootsuite Insights

Hootsuite is the most widely used social media management platform. As part of that platform, Hootsuite Social Media Insights helps businesses reach their customers more efficiently across multiple platforms and gain deeper analytics and consumer insights.


  • Provides real-time data
  • Offers insights into sentiment analysis and competitor tracking
  • Integrates with Hootsuite’s content management & publishing platform


  • Paid versions get expensive for small businesses.
  • The UI (user interface) may be overwhelming for beginners.
  • As a result, there tends to be a steep learning curve.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media management and intelligence tool for brands and agencies of all sizes. The software helps to manage conversations and surface the actionable insights that can often drive real business impact.


  • Robust but simple data reporting and visualization options 
  • Offers insights into sentiment analysis and competitor tracking
  • The customer support is timely and insightful.


  • Paid versions are not cheap and the free version is limited.
  • The social listening feature is not as robust as other tools on this list. 
  • Users report that the data is sometimes inconsistent or incorrect.

Buffer Analyze

Buffer is an intuitive, streamlined social media management and analytics platform. It has been trusted by brands, businesses, agencies, and individuals for over a decade to help drive meaningful engagement and results for social media marketers.


  • Provides easy-to-read reports and social media analytics
  • Offers insights into sentiment analysis and competitor tracking
  • The free version offers a high degree of functionality. 


  • Paid versions are expensive for small businesses.
  • Lack of timely, human-not-chatbot customer support
  • The UI can be confusing to navigate at first. 

Wrapping Up

Knowing how to interpret social media metrics leads to better business decisions, more effective marketing campaigns, and a captivating social media presence. However, it’s important to understand what each metric means and how to interpret the data effectively. Otherwise, you may be dumping time and resources down the drain. 

By using social media metrics to inform your strategy, you can use social media to target your audience and drive the long-term growth of your brand. 

Tracking Social Media Metrics—On Easy Mode

Tracking social media metrics is more important (and more complex) than ever before. Most brands just don’t have the time, resources, or know-how to get it done right. Working with a specialized social media agency takes the pain out of the process. 

Hiring Social Media Agencies on the Credo Platform

Here at Credo, every social media agency featured on our platform has passed our 28-point pre-vetting process. In fact, we only accept 52% of applicants to our network, which means you can hire the right team with confidence.

Here’s how our bespoke hiring process works:

  1. Fill out this 1-minute form (your wants and needs)
  2. Discuss your specific needs with our matchmakers
  3. Get matched with 2-3 qualified providers
  4. Have conversations with them to learn what they offer
  5. Pick the provider you want to work with (100% obligation-free)

Hiring a specialized social media agency can alleviate the complexities of tracking social media metrics. Credo’s pre-vetting process makes it easy to find and hire the right agency for your brand’s specific social media needs.

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