Social media engagement: What is it and how to improve yours

Developed by Attiya Ali, Business Value Consultant, Khoros


Measuring value and engagement on social media isn’t a new concept to marketers. With current economic headwinds and increased pressures to prove ROI, social measurement has become paramount for marketers everywhere.

Proving success on social media through effective and precise measurement lets marketers further grow their social programs and demonstrates the medium's effectiveness to the rest of the organization — tying it back to core business objectives, such as awareness, engagement, growth, conversion, and more.

When marketers understand precisely what resonates the most with their audiences, they can better tailor their content strategy to turn brand followers into brand advocates.

Social media measurement - Why does it matter?

When first approaching or re-evaluating your social media measurement program, you must first build a measurement framework to guide your program.

A framework lays the foundation for your social media strategy: An agreed-upon set of objectives that marketing teams across the business can use.

A measurement framework enables the team to define how to measure performance (metrics and KPI), what success looks like, and how it ties back to overall marketing objectives.

Here’s an example of a measurement framework that marketers can use:

  • Framework objectives and goals: Identify the goal of the measurement framework document

  • Business, marketing, and social objectives: Identify the company’s goals and objectives, the marketing organization, and your team

  • KPI per social channel: Identity which KPIs will be measured for each applicable social media channel and the average benchmarks against set goals

  • Labels: Identify labeling hierarchy to define which labels will be measured on an ongoing basis

  • Reporting framework: Outline the reporting framework (weekly, monthly, quarterly) and owners

Once a framework has been determined, your team can implement it across all social marketing activities. Make sure to also align your social measurement framework back to your organization’s overall marketing and business objectives. Many organizations miss this crucial step and are left with questions from leadership on HOW their social media results impact the company's overall business objectives.

The graphic below outlines how marketers can align their social KPIs back to social goals, which, in turn, ladder up into marketing goals and business objectives.

Outlining these objectives early in your measurement framework sets your team up for success.

Types of measurement on social media

After outlining business, marketing, and social objectives, it’s time to align on social KPIs (key performance indicators) that will measure progress against your goals. Engagement on social media can mean many things, so it’s important to outline in your framework the KPIs you’ll measure and how you’ll measure them.

Below is a starting list of social objectives and KPIs that align with these objectives.

  • Objective: Drive awareness with an audience base
    • KPI: Impressions, Reach, Follower Growth Rate, Video Views

  • Objective: Drive website traffic
    • KPI: Total clicks, Click-through rates (CTR)

  • Objective: Improve sentiment with social customer care
    • KPI: Response rate

  • Objective: Drive increased engagement
    • KPI: Likes, Comments, Shares (sum total of engagements), Engagement Rate

Ultimately, your KPIs not only depend on the objective but also each social media platform. While measuring click-through rates and total clicks may apply to platforms like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), measuring the same metric on Instagram feed content won’t be a one to one comparison. We recommend you review your content strategy to outline definitions for each KPI.

Quantitative data and metrics from social media platforms aren’t the only indicators of success. Qualitative data can also be gleaned as part of your measurement strategy better to understand metrics like sentiment and on-topic/off-topic discussion.

For example, if a post about your latest campaign announcement has garnered 50% more comments than your average post, but all comments are negative, it’s unlikely to be a good thing for your company. Additional qualitative data and context are imperative to provide a better understanding of performance.

Using insights from measurement programs

Once you’ve built your measurement framework, aligned on objectives, and outlined KPIs, it’s time to analyze the data and gain deeper insights. As long as you benchmarked where you started off from, you can see progress from there. How can you use this data to build your goals?

Use a large data set when calculating benchmarks that align with a similar time frame of the data you’re analyzing (for example, comparing two holiday time frames to each other, such as October - December 2022 vs. October - December 2023). Or develop benchmarks from a comprehensive data set (such as data from the last two fiscal years). Once you have your KPI averages worked out, these benchmarks can serve as a starting point for goal setting.

With goal setting, we recommend analyzing performance growth YoY or MoM to better land on an achievable goal increase. For example, if your engagement rate increased 5% YoY in the last two years, it would be unwise to set a goal of a 30% increase.

Often overlooked and underrated, consider applying a labeling and tagging strategy. Label (or tagging) taxonomies help marketers to analyze performance on a deeper level. If engagement rate or video views have dropped month over month, you need to know what caused the drop and how to avoid a repeat scenario. Labels allow brands to better understand which topics, campaigns, and creative elements impact brand performance. Without proper labeling and tagging, many marketers are left spending inefficient time diving into data performance manually when their time can be spent elsewhere.

Examples of a labeling strategy:

Improving your social media engagement / KPIs

Now you know the importance of engagement, types of engagement on social media, and how to measure it, let’s look at three ways to improve yours.

  1. Create compelling content: What’s compelling to your audience may not be compelling to others. To create engaging content, you have to understand what resonates the most with the community you’ve cultivated. For example, if your organization is an all-ages retail brand, think about creating content that speaks to Gen Z differently than it would to Millennials. Using and analyzing label data is crucial to having a better understanding of what content, creative, and topics work and don’t work.

  2. Lean on short-form video: Short-form video is king (in 2023, at least). With video being one of the most engaging ways to get in front of your audience, short-form video has taken social media by storm. Audiences want to SEE your brand and see it quickly.

  3. Build “test and learn” programs: Without testing and experimenting, brands can’t determine what truly works for their audience. Conducting an orchestrated test-and-learn program allows marketers to test different hypotheses and ultimately measure the results to impact overall change.


A robust social media measurement framework is critical for all social media and marketing teams to prove the value of their programs.

Khoros can help with all of your social media marketing needs. Our Business Value Consulting teams work with customers daily to measure the value and ROI of social media management programs, while Khoros Strategic Services has led countless engagements with top enterprise brands to develop personalized measurement frameworks. The Khoros platform offers in-depth reporting capabilities, saving marketers time, increasing engagement, and delivering well-rounded social marketing programs.

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