KPIs for social media - the best way to measure the impact.

More and more brands are acknowledging the potential of social media and recognising that a social media presence is not only a necessity but a valuable opportunity for increasing brand recognition and boosting revenue. Companies understand the mechanisms that govern the world of social media and are aware that social media promotion can be done in various ways and for various purposes. But do they know how to measure the impact of their social media efforts? Based on our cooperation with Nivona Polska, we provide some tips on the best way to measure the impact of image-building efforts on social media using key performance indicators. 

A brand that makes the decision to be present on social media usually focuses its actions on two key operational areas or ‘targets’: sales and image building. It is around one or both of these that a social media strategy is usually constructed. While the evaluation of sales via Facebook and Instagram ads is becoming easier thanks to increasingly measurable and precise advertising systems, image building efforts – though obvious at the time the scope of SM activity is defined – can appear rather more difficult to measure. Although Facebook enables the checking of specific data in the ‘Statistics’ tab at the fan page level, it neither explains the relationships between the data nor relates them directly to actions on the fan page. The interpretation of statistics and campaign results is thus left to marketers. 

The commencement of efforts

A clarification to start: this text is not intended to provide quick and easy answers as to how broad the reach of your published content should be and how many fans you should acquire for your fan page in a given year. Indeed, such information should not be included in any good social medial guide, since the above questions do not have simple answers. Instead, it is possible to describe certain key performance indicators (KPIs) that are useful in assessing the impact of image-building efforts, and to present the process of ‘working out’ these indicators for your business. This article is designed to serve as a guide both for social media consultants wondering which KPIs to recommend to a customer and for brand representatives wondering which indicators to agree on with an agency.

Let us start, then, by considering the objective on which our efforts are focused. Such reflection should precede any development of a strategy and should accompany us during the evaluation of its implementation. Once we have determined the main objective, this can then be divided into smaller, concrete items for the social platform in question. 

Reach – engage – sell? Not necessarily!

The basic aim of all social media promotion efforts appears obvious: to grow sales. A classic marketing funnel places image-building efforts (such as reaching and engaging the broadest possible audience from among the target group) at the very top, as an ‘introduction’ to the sale. However, it is worth noting that not every brand makes the decision to sell directly through social media. How should the evaluation of image-building actions be approached in such cases? 

Let us consider one of the main objectives of an image-building campaign, such as ‘an increase in brand recognition’. Now, let’s think about the smaller objectives that could be set for specific elements. An increase in brand recognition on Facebook and Instagram can be measured in terms of content reach and fan engagement. Is that all? Should we therefore set KPIs for the reach and activity, solving the issue of which monthly statistics to address for the coming year? What will happen when, with a limited budget, the indicators mentioned above are closely interdependent, and are frequently in inverse proportion? These questions, which should serve as the basis for any discussion of the measurement and assessment of our work, indicate the complexity of what we refer to as image-building efforts on social media. As usual, the devil is in the details: details concerning the organisation and stages of image-building campaigns as well as specific numbers and budgets. To examine how such efforts can be managed, let us consider the following scenario. 

Ideal scenario

 Let us consider an ideal scenario, since this was what we were dealing with when setting KPIs for the brand Nivona.
We started from:
The request to build a strategy of operations for the brand, which had thus far lacked Polish channels on social media. The cooperation was to be designed from scratch, including the setting of objectives and action steps (both milestones and monthly targets). When, in the middle of 2018, a Polish representative of coffee machine manufacturer Nivona approached us and asked us to prepare an offer for the creation and management of a social media presence, we knew that it was a task for us. Nivona had defined its objective clearly: to create a social media space where fans could contact the brand and the brand could communicate with fans of coffee culture. Coffee is a hot topic on social media, and there are a multitude of ways to present relevant content on Facebook. However, we needed to make clear decisions, which is why we drew up an action plan before the start of our cooperation.
We progressed to:
The implementation of our strategy, running a fan page and creating advertising campaigns – checking sector responsiveness, testing diverse content, building brand recognition, acquiring likes for the profile and initiating fan activity.

We launched our cooperation with the Nivona brand by publishing content representing various thematic pillars on the fan page. Shortly afterwards, a paid promotion was introduced in conjunction with these efforts, allowing us to test the relevance of various target groups for the coffee sector. Based on a series of trial campaigns, we defined the target groups to whom the advertisements would be addressed.

We arrived at:

The evaluation of existing efforts and a discussion with the customer about the direction of further progress and KPIs. It was only after several months of cooperation – having tested various content and formats, evaluated the advertising potential of brand content and opportunities in the Polish coffee market and followed monthly reports on the results of our actions on Facebook – that we began to discuss how to measure the impact of our efforts. During the discussion on KPIs, we and representatives of the Nivona brand expressed several interim conclusions from which specific actions could be derived:

First, both sides were aware that our target markets differed across various countries in terms of the number and behaviour of customers. As such, we could draw on the experiences of Nivona in Germany (and the central fan page) and the other European markets where Nivona operated, but could not consider them a 100% reliable benchmark for our own efforts. We focused on obtaining information on the extent to which local fan pages depended on the central fan page and whether the brand required unified reporting. We established that the KPIs would be subject to arrangements with the Nivona brand in Poland.

Secondly, the situation regarding social media content and users also required a targeted approach: frequency of actions and type of content were to be adjusted to the tastes of Polish audiences.

We determined the key performance indicators (KPIs) – yes, this part only came at this stage!

Together with the customer, we addressed the selection of appropriate key performance indicators. As part of the discussion, we considered the customer’s expectations and assessed whether we were able to meet them as an agency. 

We decided to measure the impact of Nivona’s image-building efforts using indicators related to specific objectives.

We regarded the number of single likes obtained for the fan page as the basic KPI. This is one of the most measurable indicators. We implemented it during the advertising campaign, using the option to invite users who reacted to our post to like the page. The number of likes depends on the advertising budget at the brand’s disposal. Unfortunately, Facebook does not provide a cost estimation as part of its advertising panel. So, once a specific budget has been set, how are we to determine the cost of acquiring a single like? In this case, the advertiser must act on the basis of their experience. The cost of a ‘like’ can usually be estimated on the basis of experience with the specific industry. However, it is important to remember that the amount to be paid to Facebook’s advertising system depends on a range of factors, including the type of content published on the fan page, the accuracy of target groups and, perhaps most importantly, the attractiveness of the item of advertising. This is why, before an applicable KPI is established, it is meaningful to assume a ‘working objective’ and check whether it can be met. 

The number of interactions with a post, the number of shares and, most importantly, the number of comments and messages to the brand are all statistics that fall under the ‘Activity’ umbrella. Together with the Nivona brand, we strove to develop a truly engaged audience. This is why, in our determination of appropriate indicators, we selected a specific set of the above-mentioned statistics – bearing in mind that from the point of view of the Facebook algorithm, comments are especially valuable. If you want to provide further context to the two KPIs specified above, we recommend taking the ‘engagement rate’, which indicates the proportion of a brand’s fanbase that is engaged. The engagement rate, expressed in %, is obtained by adding all activities together, dividing by the number of followers and multiplying by 100.

We wanted to progress gradually to a stage that ensured adequate visibility for brand content. As such, we decided to measure the monthly reach achieved by the content published and promoted by us.

Then, we added ‘views’. For one thing, we wanted the advertisement to reach the specific audience more frequently; for another, as the Facebook algorithm prefers video content, we decided to attach a greater number of videos and gifs to the content published.

Once the KPIs were defined, we started to work to achieve them. After some time, we paused to verify the suitability of the indicators’ type and level. Thus, we had ascertained the applicable KPIs – at least for the time being 

At this juncture, a question must be asked: what if our assumptions do not bear out? We must remember that work in social media is like dealing with a living organism. We must think about why the cost of acquiring likes for the page goes up, whether we have exhausted the advertising potential of a target group, why a certain graphic receives a fairly mediocre number of clicks, and so on.

It is important to note that when it comes to image-building efforts, the numbers and fans’ opinions about the brand (or its overall perception by fans) are sometimes two completely different issues. In any project, the success of our social media efforts also depends on the quality of cooperation with the brand. In the case of Nivona, we grateful happy to have had an interesting and productive dialogue 

During our cooperation:

  • We acquired more than 13,000 likes on the fan page
  • We published more than 200 posts
  • We held three competition
12th November 2020
9 min. read

Monika Szyszka

Social Media Strategist


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