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3 Qualitative Social Media Metrics That Matter More Than Follower Count

Hailley Griffis
Hailley Griffis Head of Communications & Content @ Buffer
3 Qualitative Social Media Metrics That Matter More Than Follower Count

4 min read
You will learn

Fun fact: A low follower count isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some accounts with few followers generate more customers than larger ones.

Ultimately, it depends on the context (i.e., qualitative social media metrics).

For example, 460 followers might not seem like a lot. But if more than 50 percent of those followers are liking and commenting on your posts, sending you messages, and sending leads your way, 460 can become a big number.

Despite only having 460 followers, Ashley Go has an engagement rate of over 50%, with 263 people liking her last post.

Go beyond your follower count and get the full picture with qualitative social media metrics that are actually relevant to your business growth.

In this post, we'll look at three metrics that are more important than follower count.

1. Engagement quality

Back in 2018, The Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of tweets that link out to famous websites are from bots, not humans. To find out who is engaging with your account (bots, trolls, or humans) and why they engage with you, you need to track engagement quality.

To start tracking engagement quality, take note of every time someone talks about how you’ve helped them, asks you questions, or leaves you a review. Then track the following data points in a spreadsheet:

  • Platform: Which social media platform the engagement came from
  • Source: A link to the account of the person who commented on your post, shared it, or messaged you
  • Link to your content: A link to the post they interacted with
  • Engagement type: Was it a comment, message, or share?
  • Engagement content: What did the message say? Copy and paste it into your spreadsheet
  • Insights: Whether the account was real or not and other insights you can infer from the comment

To give you an example of how this would look in real life, let’s take a look at this Instagram Reels video from Armen Adamjan of Creative Explained. In it, he explained how to revive dying roses.

This video on reviving dying roses got a lot of comments — but not all the comments are relevant to the account.

Lets assume that Adamjan’s social media goal is to sell the book linked in his bio. As of writing, his post has 50,432 likes and 478 comments. While those numbers look great, if we dig deeper into what the engagement quality is like, we’ll find that the post doesn’t actually align with the account’s goals.

This is a tracking sheet for the post referenced above

The top five comments on this post showed mixed feelings. One person was disappointed, another one showed interest in the tip, and the other three were jokes. None of them expressed an interest in buying Adamjan’s book.

From those insights, you can say that creating “how-to” videos are great for social media engagement and building brand awareness, but not for selling products.

2. Brand awareness and trust

Brand awareness is a harder metric to track, but it’s an important one because it tells you how recognizable your brand is across your target locations. And the more familiar your target audience is with your brand, the more likely they are to trust you. That phenomenon is called the mere exposure effect.

Track how familiar your target audience is with your brand by:

  • Asking people who buy your products or sign up to your site how they heard about you
  • Messaging some of your followers and asking them how they ended up on your list
  • Sending out surveys to your customers, asking if they talk about your brand

If a lot of your new customers are telling you that they bought a product because of a friend’s recommendation, that’s a good sign that people are talking about your brand both online and offline.

Apart from tracking where your customers are coming from, you can also set up social listening. That way, you can monitor mentions of your brand across social media sites. You want people to talk about your brand, trust your brand, and share your products with their friends and family.

If your brand awareness is growing because of your social media efforts, continue to grow your account and ask your followers to spread the word. If it’s not growing, then you might need to change up your content strategy to get more views.

3. Audience sentiment

Every time someone interacts with or mentions your brand, they are feeling something. When they complain, they’re angry. When they sing praises in your name, they’re happy. Quick hint: you want most of your interactions to be happy.

While engagement quality tracks how relevant your engagement is to your end goal, audience sentiment tracks how your target audience feels about your brand.

To find out audience sentiment, you can use tools like Mention to track, well, mentions of your brand across multiple platforms. And make sure to spend a couple of hours a week looking at the context within which you were mentioned.

If most people are saying, “I love [YOUR BRAND], you should try it out!” then your audience loves you. If they’re saying, “I’m not so sure about [YOUR BRAND], has anyone tried them?” then it might be time for you to start building content that features customer testimonials.

Look at both qualitative & quantitative social media metrics to define success

Now that you know more about qualitative metrics, think back to that first account we showed you — the one with 460 followers and 263 likes.

At a glance, it looks like their account is doing well. But what if none of those 263 followers messaged them, asking about their services? Or only two people shared the photographer’s profile?

Numbers only tell you half the story. You need to look at both quantitative and qualitative metrics together; otherwise, you’ll get discouraged before your account starts taking off.

Track your social media growth with Buffer’s Analyze dashboard. Our tool tracks the data and presents it to you in easy-to-understand charts and graphs so that you can find out within seconds if your account has grown.

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