As a social media manager, measuring your social efforts is a large part of your job — without some form of measurement, it becomes extremely difficult to show upper management the impact of your likes, shares, and other social efforts on the overall success of your marketing campaigns.

Benchmarking is a great way to evaluate your performance against competitors or your industry, but what numbers should you truly be paying attention to? Are you using the right type of benchmarking for your goals? Today, we’re going to walk through some factors to consider when setting up your next social media campaign.

Types of Benchmarking

The first step to successfully measuring your social efforts is to choose the correct benchmarks for your campaign. All of the following benchmarks are useful, but certain types will be more suited to your campaigns, depending on your specific goals.

Buffer explains there are four types of benchmarks:

  1. Aspirational: Benchmarks related to the performance of industry leaders and big brands. These are typically pulled from recent social media studies.
  2. Trended: Benchmarks based on your company’s previous performance.
  3. Earned: Benchmarks achieved through your company’s previous social media campaigns.
  4. Inspirational: Benchmarks based on the performance of companies you aspire to be like.

Before settling on a set of benchmarks, consider what goals your company wants to achieve with social media. Factors including current social media performance, and the age of your social media account should also be taken into consideration. If your company’s social media accounts have been around for years, perhaps trended or earned benchmarks will give you the best information to assess and drive your future efforts. If you’re just launching your company’s social media accounts, aspirational or inspirational benchmarks may be better suited to your current goals.

The Realities of Benchmarking

Settling on a benchmarking goal may sound straightforward, but here’s the catch: If you don’t benchmark the right metrics, it can lead to inaccurate reporting and poor performance across your social campaigns. For instance, HubSpot has shown that increasing posts doesn’t correlate with engagement — so measuring your frequency of posting won’t help direct your engagement goals.

Solid engagement rates don’t reflect a growing or shrinking audience; and high social media engagement doesn’t always result in increased leads, or sales. In order to accurately drive your efforts towards success, you must find the appropriate benchmarks for your goals, whether you want to convert more consumers, engage your audience more deeply, or broaden your reach. Together, looking at different types of benchmarks can help paint a complete picture of your company’s social media performance.

To complicate things further, let’s look at benchmarks for two industries, provided by HubSpot:

  • Consumer Goods, Retail and eCommerce companies have an average of about 370,000 followers, and post an average of 6.02 times per week. The number of interactions for companies that post the most (10 or more times per week) was an average of 12 interactions per post.
  • Real Estate companies have an average of 103,299 followers, and post an average of 19.21 times per week. The number of interactions for companies that posted the most was only one per post.

Let’s look at two more industries with data, provided by TrackMaven:

  • Automotive companies have an average of 197,673 Twitter followers, and see an average of 114 interactions per post.  On Instagram, these companies have an average of 114,493 followers, seeing an average of 7,620 interactions per post.
  • Online Media companies have an average of 1,012,350 Twitter followers, and see an average of 50 interactions per post.  On Instagram, these companies have an average of 174,903 followers, and see an average of 3,356 interactions per post.

What do you notice about these numbers across industries? They’re wildly different; proving firsthand why benchmarking against your own industry is so important. A real estate company can’t expect to have the same following as an online media site — and shouldn’t be comparing itself to that benchmark, because it’s not an accurate measure of success. Every industry utilizes social media in a different way. Before analyzing your campaign metrics and labeling them successful or not, you first must understand what can realistically be achieved for a company like yours.

Other factors, like company size, will also drive your posting frequency. According to HubSpot, companies with more than 200 employees — and those with less than 10 employees — tend to post more than 10 times per week. Although, companies with more than 200 employees have an average of 85,870 followers; companies with less than 10 employees have an average of 18,063. While these numbers may not be particularly surprising, they further reinforce the reality that setting realistic social media goals isn’t clean-cut. A small online news site will not likely see the same results (at least at first) as the Huffington Post; one of the challenges for a smaller business is identifying how to measure itself against accurate benchmarks — according to its industry, size, future goals, current audience engagement, and more.

Finding the Right Resources

So, if the right benchmarks are difficult to pin down, and the wrong ones can give you inaccurate measures of your campaign, is it really so important to use benchmarking for your company?

The answer is yes: the key is pulling together metrics from different sources to understand what’s best for your company. HubSpot and TrackMaven are just two of many companies that provide valuable industry insights. These reports also include overall social media trends, which can be valuable when you’re deciding to move into (or leave) a particular channel.

Remember that new studies are always being released with new numbers. As the social media landscape changes, so should your benchmarks. No company can thrive without reviewing and changing their strategies, and in a world of real-time social media updates, this fact has never been more relevant.

 

 

Author Bio: Amber Whiteside is the Media Relations Manager at Main Path Marketing. Amber grew up using Myspace and Xanga, which soon led to her passion for following social media trends and a love affair with writing. Amber went on to receive a BA in journalism with an emphasis in public relations from California State University, Chico. If she is not at home playing with her black cat Robb, she is typically out at a local music venue enjoying the sounds of one of her favorite indie bands.

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