You’re measuring engagement wrong: The case for custom metrics

Russ Garcia

Social metrics don’t always add up

If you’re a social media manager, you have a tough job.

Not only do you have to keep up with ever-evolving trends and make sure to engage with the followers who comment on your posts; you also need to consistently assess how your content is performing and adjust your strategy accordingly. Truly understanding content performance and follower engagement, especially across platforms, can be tricky.

Large brands with established social media teams and concerted campaigns can keep a close eye on content performance and adjust their social media strategy accordingly— but many others, even at the enterprise level, don’t have such a focus on this important part of the business. And if like most marketers, you’re working across a variety of social media channels, the challenge becomes even greater. Setting engagement goals based on your brand’s business objectives can often help, but each social media channel defines and delivers metrics differently, so it’s still complicated to measure one channel’s performance against that of another.

Khoros Marketing has a solution: Custom metrics

Fortunately, we’re no longer in the early days of social media — and digital marketers are no longer on their own. Khoros Marketing is here to help. With Khoros Marketing, you can gather analytics data directly from each social media channel. You can also create custom calculations to easily compare performance across social media channels and content types so you’ll always understand how your content is performing and how to improve your efforts to meet your business goals.

For example, Facebook and Twitter include various types of clicks in their engagement calculations, such as those for video and other media links. This click data makes up a large part of the overall engagement and may bloat the results of content including videos or links. Instagram engagement metrics, on the other hand, do not include click data. It may appear that your brand’s Instagram content isn’t performing as well as content on other channels, even if that’s not really the case. But when you define your own engagement calculations, you get a more accurate picture of how your content is performing across channels.

Wondering how using custom metrics looks in practice? Below we’ll explore examples of how to manage and standardize engagement data and content across three of the biggest social media networks: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The chart below demonstrates that, based on the way each channel measures engagement, Facebook and Twitter appear to be outperforming Instagram:


However, since each channel measures engagement differently, to truly compare how your content is performing across these three channels, it’s important to choose metrics that normalize performance — for example, comments and likes. The following chart demonstrates that if you choose to compare metrics that are consistent across all three platforms (in this case, comments and likes), channel performance looks a lot different and Twitter becomes the lowest performer:


You’ll find similar results when you compare different types of content using custom metrics. That’s because some content includes a link or a video that generates clicks that aren’t present in other types of content. Choosing a metric that’s universal to content types across channels or within a channel will provide clearer insight, particularly when the metric you choose is aligned with your brand’s business goals and turned into a rate or percentage.

For example, in the chart below it appears that Facebook photos receive the highest engagement. However, photos published on Facebook make up the majority of posts, which causes them to have the highest impression volume. So naturally, the more posts and impressions, the more opportunity for engagement.


However, if your primary goal for Facebook content is awareness, it might be better to look at a metric that’s available for all Facebook content types, such as shares and turn it into a rate (shares divided by impressions). When looking at the content through the lens of “share rate,” videos become a top performer.


Another way to assess content performance is to look at each content type and related engagement rates independently. Either way, selecting a metric, or metrics, that align with your brand’s business goals and normalizing performance across or within a category allows for more accurate reporting.

We built out Custom Metric functionality within the Khoros Marketing platform after many customer requests, and we’re so thrilled that more accurate social media content reporting is now a reality.

Need a platform with the ability to define your own metrics and rates, with some of the smartest folks in the industry to help you on your path to success on social media? Sign up for a demo today.

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