Many industrial marketers who are incorporating social media into their marketing mix are still unsure how to measure the effectiveness of their efforts. Last month, the Maven reported survey results about how your audience of engineers and technical professionals use social media and how industrial companies use social channels to connect with customers.

You can download the full report, Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector, which includes charts, analysis, and recommendations. Or view the on-demand webinar based on this research.

This month we’ll discuss how to measure your social media marketing efforts. As with any other marketing initiative, measurement is the only way you can intelligently manage social media initiatives and make improvements to your program. It’s not that difficult, as long as you understand your goals for using social media and pay attention to the metrics that matter.

The Metrics that Matter
There are four primary ways to measure your social media efforts:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Sentiment
  • Conversion

The emphasis you place on each measurement is determined by your social media goals. Simply trying to get your brand name in front of the widest audience? That’s reach. Hoping your audience takes some type of action? That’s conversion. Monitoring reaction to a new product announcement? That’s sentiment. Let’s look at each metric and what it means.

Reach is measured in basic statistics: Number of LinkedIn connections, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, third-party mentions of your company, etc. Reach is easy to measure (you’re simply counting) and it’s easy to spot progress as the numbers increase. At the same time, reach by itself provides little concrete business value.

What’s more relevant is what causes your reach to expand. For example, if an industry analyst tweets about your company and you experience a surge of new Twitter followers, you can conclude it’s worth applying resources to get industry analysts to pay attention to your company. Or if you include a link to your company’s Facebook page at an online event you sponsor and get new likes, you’ll know that promoting your social media presence at online events grows your brand visibility. It’s this kind of intelligence that can help you hone not just social media marketing but all of your marketing.

Engagement measures audience response to your content. While it’s known that the industrial audience is generally passive in its use of social media, preferring to read and watch rather than post and comment, you should pay close attention to the responses you do get. Twitter re-tweets, Facebook wall posts or shares, blog responses, comments on LinkedIn discussions, length of video views—all of these forms of engagement measure how interesting and relevant your content is to your audience. You can test different types of content and see what generates the most engagement, then use the results to optimize your content efforts.

Sentiment measures the qualitative, emotional reaction to your content and company on social media channels. Are the reactions you get positive, negative, or neutral in tone? Are mentions of your products positive, but comments about your company’s customer service negative? By paying attention to sentiment, you’re taking the temperature of customers and the market and getting a sense of brand perceptions about your company, products, and services. It’s valuable insight.

Most marketers think in terms of conversions as the key metric in measuring the success of a marketing program. And if conversions are your goal with social media, then this will hold significance. Although in the social media world, it’s one metric, and may or may not be the most important one.

To measure conversions, your social media content must include a call to action: register for a webinar, download a white paper, watch a video, etc. Tracking social media conversions not only gives you straight numbers, it gives you data for comparison purposes across integrated programs. Did your tweet result in more conversions or did your e-newsletter advertisement? You can discover which channels are most effective for different types of offers, and the intelligence you gain can help you optimize all your marketing, not just social media.

Be sure to download the report and view the webinar to gain more in-depth knowledge about social media use and measurement in the industrial sector. Also, if this article was helpful to you, please spread the word using the share buttons below.

Do you measure social media? What insights have you found? How has measurement shaped your social media strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. So you mention that “reach” is really just the number of likes or fans or connections… this is not the case. Especially for Facebook. If you have 2,000 fans, your reach is dependent upon how many people SEE your post — most of the time only about a couple hundred of my own fans see my posts — but through sharing and commenting, it appears in THEIR newsfeeds, too, exposing it to their friends. So while only 150 of my fans may see a post, the reach of that specific post can be well over 7,000.

    It is called viral marketing.

  2. Thank you for your comment Rebecca. What you describe would fall under “engagement.” If you post content that is not relevant to your audience, you would not see that viral lift. The reason why your fans share and comment on your posts – and extending them beyond your base group of fans – is that your content is interesting and compelling.

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