Social Media Definitions: KPIs and Other Valuable Terms to Know

The social media world is full of crazy terminology, and the terms keep adding up the more the industry evolves. Throughout the years, our team has broken down common social media marketing buzzwords as well as influencer marketing buzzwords, but the most important terms marketers need to understand are those that relate to measuring the success of your social efforts.

Social Media Definitions: KPIs and Other Valuable Terms to Know

Whether your team is presenting your monthly report to you or you’re planning your next big campaign, it’s essential to understand both the meaning of and difference between Key Performance Indicators (commonly referred to as KPIs) and how these metrics align with your overall business objectives.

Throughout this post we’ve outlined some of the most important social media definitions you need to arm yourself with to be dangerous. Additionally, we’ve taken it one step further to show you our recommendation as to which of these metrics you should focus on depending on your primary objective and where that falls within the marketing funnel.

Social Media Definitions

  • Impressions: A single exposure of a message to one person in the target audience.  The “exact” meaning is different per medium.
  • Gross or Total Impression: The simple addition of impressions.
  • Viewable Impressions: Standard measure of ad viewability defined by the International Advertising Bureau (IAB) to be an ad that which appears at least 50% on screen for more than 1 second.
  • Reach/Reach Percentage: The number of unique people exposed to a brand’s advertising one or more times. Reach is expressed at a percentage of the population base. You can also use the raw number but the percent provides more context. 
  • Effective Reach: The percentage of the target audience that is exposed to the advertising schedule a sufficient number of times to produce a positive change in awareness, attitude, purchase action, etc. – based on the concept that exposure below the effective frequency has little or no value. 
  • Exclusive Reach: Number of different persons who are exposed to one media vehicle in combination, and not any other vehicles. 
  • Organic Reach: The number of people who saw the organic version of the post at least once without paid support.
  • Paid Reach: The number of people who saw the promoted version of the post at least once.
  • Average Frequency: The average number of times that each home (or person) is exposed to an advertising schedule or campaign over a defined time period. 
  • Effective Frequency: The number advertising exposures that are judged necessary to produce a positive change in awareness, attitude, or purchase action.
  • Engagements: A count of all social actions taken on a piece of content, such as likes, comments, and shares.
  • Engagement Rate: The frequency of engagement based on the number of times it was seen. Often calculated by engaged users divided by reach but differs by platform.
  • Video Views: The number of times your video was watched. Note: Each network counts a view differently:
    • Facebook and Instagram: 3 seconds for a video in the feed. However, a Story view is valid once the story starts playing.
    • LinkedIn: 3 seconds
    • Twitter and Pinterest: 2 seconds while at least 50% of the content is in view
    • Reddit & Snapchat: Once the video starts playing, the view is counted
  • Video View Rate: Measures the attention given to video content. Calculated by video views divided by reach.
  • View Completion Rate (VCR): The frequency of people watching the whole video out of everyone who watched any of the video. Calculated by dividing the number of video completions by the total number of video views.
  • Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions (CPM): Also called cost per mille, the aggregate cost for one thousand impressions, calculated by dividing the amount spent by the number of impressions and then multiplying by 1000.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC): The aggregate cost of each click within a campaign.  We recommend only counting link clinks in this equation. 
  • Click Through Rate (CTR): The frequency links are clicked within a post based on the number of times it was seen. Calculated by the number of link clicks divided by reach.
  • Cost Per Engagement (CPE): The aggregate cost to garner one engagement. Calculated by dividing the amount spent by the number of engagements on the post.
  • Cost-Per-Lead (CPL): The aggregate cost to acquire a lead through a campaign.
  • Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA): The aggregate cost to acquire a customer through a campaign.
  • Return On Ad Spend (ROAS):  A measurement of ad spend efficiency usually calculated by value (e.g., purchases, scheduled events) divided by ad spend.
  • Ad Recall: Research technique used to measure the respondent’s ability to remember elements of an advertisement.
  • Designated Market Area (DMA): A geographic area that represents specific television markets as defined by and updated annually by the Nielsen Company. According to Nielsen, “a DMA region is a group of counties that form an exclusive geographic area in which the home market television stations hold a dominance of total hours viewed.”
    • There are 210 DMAs covering the whole United States.
    • DMAs are ranked in order of largest to smallest.  The higher the ranking, the higher the cost. 
  • Metro Survey/Statistical Area (MSA): correspond to the federal government’s Metropolitan Areas. They are geographical regions with high population densities at their center and close economic ties throughout an area. MSAs are used by radio media planners and buyers because each area usually includes the cities for the majority of the local radio stations and the counties where these cities are located.
    • There are approximately 362 MSAs
  • Gross Rating Point (GRP): A standard measure in advertising, it measures advertising impact. The sum of all ratings (e.g., for all programs in a schedule).
  • Dayparting: Division of the day into general time periods for targeting purposes (e.g., morning, afternoon, evening, etc.).

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Aligning KPIs to Your Business Objectives

Now that you have a general understanding of social media KPIs, a valuable component in every social media strategy is identifying those key metrics that will provide you with meaningful data that aligns with your objective. For example, too often do marketers assume that engagements correlate with sales. Engagements, while still meaningful, are much more indicative of consideration/mid-funnel activities.

Below we’ve outlined the four stages (yes four, because you can’t forget post-purchase!) of the marketing funnel and which metrics you’ll want to ensure you’re monitoring and optimizing for based on your social media objective.

Upper-Funnel: Awareness & Reach

Use to measure the dissemination and reception of messages produced by your social media marketing efforts.

  • Reach
  • Impressions & CPM
  • Frequency
  • Ad Recall
  • Brand Lift
  • Video Views
  • Video view rate

Middle-Funnel: Consideration

Use to measure decision-making research actions driven by social media marketing efforts.

  • Link Clicks
  • CPC
  • CTR
  • View completion rate
  • Site Traffic

Lower-Funnel: Conversions

Use to measure purchase/conversion actions driven by social media marketing efforts.

  • CPL
  • CPA
  • CPC
  • ROAS

Post-Purchase: Customer Care

Use to measure loyalty and community development efforts driven by social media marketing efforts.

  • Engagements
  • Engagement Rate
  • CPE

If you’re continuing to struggle with measuring and reporting on your social media marketing efforts, contact our team of experts today. Additionally, keep yourself up to date on the latest news and trends in social media by subscribing to our e-newsletter, Social You Should Know, below.

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