The Social Media Metrics Map


A few years ago, we published the first edition of the Social Metrics Map, a guide to identifying the correct social media KPIs for each stage of the funnel.

It’s been one of the most valuable pieces of content we’ve ever published. Customers constantly tell us they have it hanging above their desk as a reminder, and to help inspire new ideas.

The social metrics map is something we use internally as well, and helps inform both our social, and content marketing programs. But as the face of social has changed, we’ve realized the need for an update.

Not only are social marketers responsible for posting Tweets and Facebook posts. They’re responsible for influencer campaigns, inspiring user-generated content, publishing paid content and boosting their organic content to get a wider reach.

The challenge with all of that is that social marketers aren’t always evaluated by the same standards and metrics that the rest of the marketing team is, and in many cases, this is because marketing leadership doesn’t know how to evaluate social media.

In this guide, we’ll walk through a simple, three-step process for mapping owned, earned, and paid social media strategy to the relevant KPIs and business value, depending on which stage of the funnel your program is focused.

Social Marketers Should Help Define Social’s Impact on the Business.

Use this guide to measure the effectiveness of your current strategy, or work backwards to develop a new social media strategy based on the impact you’re looking to make.

Success in marketing needs to be defined up front. If you leave that definition up to someone else, you’ll likely be disappointed, and potentially set up for failure.

By following this simple process, you’ll find your definition of success easy to understand, easy to justify, and most importantly, a relevant measure of your program’s effectiveness.

We’ll talk about how to:

  1. Identify Objectives: The content you curate has to be relevant to your employees’ professional lives in some way
  2. Organize Social Metrics: How to take all the metrics out there and organize them into simple groups that help prove success
  3. Set Goals: Setting realistic goals with the appropriate objective and metrics

Chapter 2

Identify Objectives

Below is a marketing funnel. Many marketers use the buyer’s journey as a framework, which is similar. The funnel is a linear representation of the buyer’s journey, designed to align marketing and sales activities.

social media map - funnel

These are the stages that a buyer goes through when trying to make a decision about a product or a service, and even after they purchase.

Companies create functions, programs, and campaigns that allow their marketing team to move the buyer between those stages. So we align each stage with an objective.

The objectives are very similar, but they include an action. For example, the action in the awareness stage is “create awareness”.

Marketing Objectives:

This is important because it leads to the next step, which is identifying which social strategy will allow you to achieve that objective. We’ve outlined that here.

Social marketers are still finding it challenging to connect the dots between objectives (desired outcomes) and strategies.

This is directly linked to the research findings in our 2018 Sprout Social Index, which tells us that social marketers are still struggling the social marketer’s #1 challenge is still ROI.

Return on investment is the top concern for 55% of social marketers. This makes sense for two reasons:

  1. They aren’t meeting the full needs of their social audience with content that spans the full funnel
  2. They’re defining ROI poorly to begin with

What Marketing Objective Do You Support?

When we asked which stage social media supports, 43% said they support brand awareness. Only 6% are focused on adoption.

Do You Have The Right Strategy?

Identifying the marketing objective you need to support will allow you to come up with the right strategy for execution.

Chapter 3

Organize Social Metrics

For marketers who are capable of identifying the correct objective and putting together the appropriate strategy, a lot fail in the the metrics selection and tracking phase.

Our social analytics and listening solutions give us access to a plethora of metrics, but we are unsure of which metrics will tell the story we need to tell. Trying to map a paid, owned, and earned plan back to strategy can get complicated. There winds up being a lot of confusion about what is important, which metrics matter where, and what to focus on. On top of that, metrics with the same name have different definitions depending on the network you’re analyzing, which is exhausting, especially since you likely have campaigns going across multiple social channels.

One of two things end up happening: social media marketers either use the metrics that are easy, instead of using the right ones, or get discouraged and don’t check in with their data very often (and miss out on maximum impact as a result).

So, let’s organize this mess. We identified three main types of metrics.
3 types of metrics

Here’s an Example:

The corresponding strategy would be to expose the target audience to our content and message. In order to do that, we need to go out there and post and promote on social, and enable our audience to do the same. This means that the activity metrics would be posts and promotions. Once we do that, there’s a result of that activity. We capture that with the success metrics, which are impressions and reach. Finally, the impact on the business is Share of Voice (SOV) and Top of Mind Awareness (ToMA).

  • Stage: Brand awareness
  • Marketing Objective: Create awareness
  • Social Media Strategy: Expose audience to brand’s content
  • Owned Activity Metrics: Posts
  • Paid Activity Metrics: Boosted Posts and Promotions
  • Earned Activity Metrics: Influencers interacted with
  • Success Metrics: Impressions and reach
  • Impact on Business: SOV and ToMA

We created this process for each stage of the marketing funnel, and mapped each stage of the buyer’s journey with the objective, strategy, and different paid, earned, and owned metrics you need.

This will allow you to tie the way you prove your value with the buyer’s journey and your overall business objective.

Chapter 4

Set Realistic Goals

Setting goals with no information is a gamble. We don’t have to gamble as social marketers, because we have an abundance of information.

Setting realistic goals is about a reference point. A goal is taking one of the metrics we’ve discussed, and attaching a value. So if impressions is the metric I’m focused on, the goal would be a certain number (a value) of impressions, during a specific time frame, with a specific audience, etc.

The first step is to set a reference point. To the right you’ll find five ways to do this, ranked from most effective to least.

Establish a Point of Reference

  1. Your Own Baseline: If you did it before, use your own baseline to set realistic goals
  2. Peers: What kind of success have like-minded companies seen?
  3. Competitors: What type of results have your competitors seen?
  4. Industry Benchmarks: These can be difficult to navigate because they’re generic, and not always relevant
  5. Common Sense (guesstimation): If you have a good idea of what your goal should be, this is better than nothing

Chapter 5


If you don’t define what success means for your social team, who will?

This process of mapping metrics to the buyer’s journey is the key to taking control of social media goals.

Start by using the funnel to identify your objective, take all the metrics you have access to and narrow them down to the key metrics across paid, earned, and owned activities, and plan your strategy accordingly.

Chapter 6

More Marketing Resources


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