There Are No "Right" Social KPIs

44% of marketers say they haven't been able to show the impact of social at all and another 36% say they have a good sense of the qualitative, but not quantitative, impact of social initiatives. Marketers feel stuck with engagement metrics that don't tell them anything about the business impact of their social programs. And, some fall victim to thinking there is an industry standard set of KPIs that will reveal their social impact in relation to other brands.  
The Forrester Social Marketing Playbook's Performance Management chapter guides marketers on how to measure social programs. To get a decent picture of your social programs' performance, measure three types:
  1. Business impact: Show social programs' deepest value. The hardest type of social measurement is also the most important. This is the quantitative view of your social efforts that matter most to executives. Start by measuring attribution to assign a proportion of revenue to social programs or measuring social's impact on brand health.   
  2. Marketing impact: Measure how well social programs serve strategic marketing goals. Quantify whether social is helping you meet your objectives across the six phases of the customer life cycle: Discover, Engage, Buy, Use, Ask, and Engage. Proving performance at this level is crucial for marketers responsible for setting strategic priorities and channel allocation. Measure how well you're achieving your stated marketing objective in a specific customer life cycle phase and how well you're guiding customers to the next phase of the life cycle.
  3. Content impact: Track topic resonance to improve your social content execution. You can still track likes, comments, and shares but this most rudimentary form of social measurement doesn't tell you anything about social's effect on business outcomes. Your CMO shouldn't care about it but it does help staffers on the frontlines understand which content is capturing the attention of your social audience. Use these metrics for content relevance only and don't benchmark against your competitors. 
Hat tip to Melissa Parrish and Samantha Ngo for their immense efforts in this research. And, look out for the Social Marketing Playbook's Organization and Continuous Improvement chapters to publish in January and February 2017. 
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Measuring to the Lifecycle

Your assertion is very intriguing: "Quantify whether social is helping you meet your objectives across the six phases of the customer life cycle" How have you seen companies actually do that? It sounds very valuable as a concept, but I wonder how to measure it. Social KPIs are so hard... that thinking of social KPIs by phases would be very difficult - like you might need customers to fill out a survey for where they are at that moment? Thanks!

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