While most firms understand the need for social media as part of their overall marketing strategy, they are often lost when it comes to understanding how to measure its success.

In a world where our interconnectedness is only increasing, gauging how your audience reacts to the content you post and share on social media platforms is crucial.

Here, we look at three metrics that can help you measure influence, engagement and amplification. Understanding these metrics can help your firm discover how your followers are reacting to your content—and what posts are most powerful in building your brand.

1) Influence: Influence is one of the primary reasons why social media marketing works for firms. What you post—and how it is received by your followers—has a direct impact on how much influence your campaigns have. Most metrics are influential in some way, but these three are the best at quantifying your overall social influence.

• Likes and reactions: Are your firm’s followers reacting to your content by liking it or reacting to it? This direct response metric will provide immediate insight into whether your followers are interested in what you’re sharing, giving you the opportunity to tailor your messaging going forward. Likes are influential for two reasons: people are naturally drawn to popular items, and most social algorithms assign higher priority to popular content, making it more visible to more people.

• Sentiment: How do people feel about your brand? There are social intelligence tools that will help track online conversations about your firm and identify them as positive, negative or neutral in nature. Sentiment-tracking follows natural language patterns to find references about your brand, even if your firm is not tagged. Keeping tabs on your firm’s online reputation will help you measure your digital influence.

• Share of voice: Is your brand discussed more than your competitors? Share of voice involves publishing volume as well as how many conversations occur about your brand in comparison to your competition. If you’re concerned about how often your firm is mentioned online in comparison to your biggest professional rivals, you may need a social intelligence tool to help track this metric. Share of voice is often amplified through a rigorous public relations campaign that supplements your social media strategy.

2) Engagement: You will know how well your posts resonate with your audience based on engagement metrics. Consistent engagement will help your follower base grow organically over time. Engagement is also a significant factor in how many people ultimately see your posts. As with likes and reactions, engagement metrics increase the popularity of your content, sending signals to the channel to prioritize your posts.

a. Link clicks: Are your followers clicking through your posted links to go to your website, blog or other desired asset? Link clicks help you understand what kind of content is the most relevant and compelling to your audience. These metrics indicate a sincere desire to know more. They are not only a precursor to conversion, they also indicate how successful your copy, call to action and imagery might be.

b. Comments/replies: Are your followers commenting on your posts? Many of the most compelling social media posts start a conversation. When someone finds your content thought-provoking, intriguing or simply unique enough to stop scrolling and read it, they may also want to share their thoughts on the matter at hand. They want to engage with you and establish a dialogue. Are you asking questions? Are you sharing newsworthy content? Use comments and replies to help gauge how engaging your messaging is and make changes as needed to increase engagement.

c. Profile visits: Are your followers checking out your account profile? Some social media platforms don’t provide this metric, but for the ones that do, it's worth paying attention to. A lot of people use social media platforms as search engines. Many of your followers—especially if they are clients—may never visit your profile. Potential prospects, however, probably will. This performance indicator may not be as useful as some of the others, but profile visits indicate interest in your firm beyond your most recent post and they are worth tracking.

3) Amplification: What if your followers could spread your messages to an even wider audience than you have direct access to? That’s exactly what amplification metrics do. Between shares/retweets and mentions, your content’s visibility can increase exponentially. Getting just one highly influential follower to share your posts or mention your firm could result in unprecedented engagement. While you may not have a super fan with hundreds of thousands of followers of his or her own, any shares or mentions will amplify your message, making it accessible to people outside of your own follower base.

a. Shares/retweets: Are your followers sharing your posts? Retweets and shares increase your reach while also indicating successful content. People won’t share content they deem unworthy. They only share content that they’ve given the stamp of approval, which increases your credibility in addition to your visibility and access. Shares and retweets are essentially recommendations. They reflect the perceived value of your content. The more your content is shared, the greater the amplification.

b. Mentions: Do any of your followers or fans mention your firm? Each time your brand is tagged or mentioned in tweets or posts, your exposure to new future followers is amplified. Being discussed online proves your brand is top of mind, even when you’re not actively involved in the conversation. Be sure to track mentions every day so you don’t miss an opportunity to engage with your followers and prospective followers. You may also catch a potential problem or chance to answer a client question by routinely monitoring mentions.

While there is no truly definitive list of every metric a professional services firm should measure, each brand has its own specific goals that determine which metrics will be most useful in gauging success. Aligning goals with metrics enables you to gain insight into what will help you achieve your objectives, what might present an area of concern, and guide you to the necessary actions.

For more information, see Four Ways to Leverage Social Media for Your Firm.