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Does your social media presence bring value to your organisation?

11 Jul 2016

Find out with these key metrics

8 July, 2016

Molly Campbell shares some stand-out lessons in social media success from Smashed Abacus’  Cam Steed who spoke at the 2016 IABC World Conference.

At conferences I’ve often found myself listening to speakers talk about big ideas. They have an inspiring opinion, propose a new approach to business as usual or talk about great things they’ve done that reignite my passion for the communications profession.

These are all important lessons from events like the 2016 IABC World Conference, which I had the privilege of attending this June thanks to IABC Canberra’s scholarship. But many times, these lessons are only actionable if you’re at a management level.

Lucky for me, one talk I attended taught me some lessons I could take back to work and use right away. It was Cam Steed’s talk on social media metrics.

Cam runs a Toronto-based consultancy that works with big-name brands to help them up their social media game.

His talk resonated with me because I often find myself trying to convince my colleagues and clients of social media’s value to an organisation. Sometimes it can be hard to back up this claim with real evidence. Cam’s talk explained how to measure social media impact in real ways that can help us communicators prove its impact to our colleagues and make better decisions about how we use it.

To Cam it’s clear that social media is driving marketing innovation, just as many technology advancements have before it. However, proving its impact is elusive. In a February 2016 Forbes report, 47.9% of marketing leaders said they have not been able to show any impact of social media on their business yet.

Is that because it has no impact? No. It’s because social media is completely different traditional communication tools. It can’t be measured using the same metrics.

And yet most of us are still using standard KPIs to evaluate it. Examples of these “vanity metrics”, as Cam refers to them, are:

  • Growth rate: number of new followers
  • Post rate: how many times you posted
  • Engagement rate: how many people liked, commented, etc. on your posts
  • Conversion rate: how many people went to your website from your social sites
  • Mentions: how many times you are mentioned

So how do we dig deeper and measure social media in ways that can inform our strategy and decision making?

Here are some of Cam’s suggested measurements:

  1. Relational Equity – Comparing fans and follower count is a start but what you should be paying attention to is how close your brand is to your community. How often are you replying to comments? Engaging with user generated content?
  1. Response Rate – How long – on average – does it take you to find and reply to content directed at you on your social media channels? 
  1. Social Reputation – What is your current reputation online? What could you do to improve it? This metric takes work because ideally you should be reading through the content. Social media scanning technology isn’t smart enough to read sarcasm and tone like a human can.
  1. Common Discussion Themes – What are the most common themes of discussion that relate to your organisation? Could you figure out ways to improve what you do by checking out what your target audiences and industry are talking about?
  1. Passive/ Active Engagement – How many people Viewed & Liked your content versus Commented & Shared it? How can you increase engagement?
  1. Unbranded Content – What are the most frequently mentioned topics about your industry excluding branded content?

Focusing on these metrics can help you use social media to its full potential to get closer to your community and ultimately make better business decisions. Social media offers an opportunity to gather more accurate information about your target audiences than ever before, but using it to its full potential takes time and commitment. Even so, as Cam and I would argue, the honest feedback and market insight social media helps you achieve are absolutely worth the work.


Molly Campbell is an IABC Canberra member and works as a digital communications consultant for GHD Digital Group.

You can learn more about Smashed Abacus’s social media services at their website:

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