10 Free Tools to Track the Social Media Metrics That Matter

10 Free Tools to Track the Social Media Metrics That Matter

Social media metrics are often seen as elusive -- and that’s because many startups and small businesses aren’t quite sure where and how to measure the digital marketing tools that fall in the social media arsenal.

This elusiveness isn't helped by the ugly side of social media metrics: vanity metrics. Years of tracking metrics that simply don’t matter (think: follower count) has given the mere illusion of success or failure.

We want to change that for you. In this post, we’re going to share 10 of our favourite tools for collecting data that can help your startup reach its social media goals -- but first, we need to address some highlights of the metrics that matter.

Exclusive Bonus: Download a list of these tools and gain instant access to the four most important social media metrics!

Social Media Metrics That Matter

A quick recap: what are vanity metrics? TechCrunch defines ‘vanity metrics’ as “easily manipulated [numbers that] do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that matter: active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and ultimately revenues and profits.”

Yes, it feels amazing to have hundreds of thousands of followers that are liking, retweeting, and commenting on your stuff, but does that really matter? You’ve got to educate, engage, and inspire the right audience if you’re going to see conversions. Those followers who are liking your page also need to follow your call-to-action before popping the cork and toasting with your team.

To get to those conversions, you need to know what works. And to know what works, you need to be measuring what matters. As Greg Hayment, founder of SEO.io, said: "Knowing every detail of your business will determine its success or failure. You must know every metric that makes your business successful and cut the metrics that aren't delivering success."

Measure things that you can attach meaning to -– things that can help you make informed decisions. As Kaushik explains, conversation rates, amplification rate, applause rate, and economic value are all metrics that convert:

Conversation Rate helps you build relationships by knowing how your audience feels about you. (Conversation Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post.) It helps you nurture leads, answer questions about your product and provide support that leads to user retention.

Amplification Rate is another great metric for measuring intangibles like brand awareness. It describes how often and how far your content gets shared – its reach. It’s an excellent indicator of the ROI of your relationship-building work with influencers. It can help you determine what kind of content you should be creating and what channels to focus on by showing you what your users and influencers share.

Applause Rate is the number of ‘endorsements’ that your post receives (‘likes’ on Facebook and Instagram, ‘favorites’ on Twitter, ‘+1s’ on Google + etc.) If you simply measure this, it does nothing. It sits in a pretty frame alongside all the other vanity metrics. But, if you use it as a research tool to gather insight on what your community likes and doesn’t like, it becomes more valuable.

According to a study by the digital marketing agency ODM Group, 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions. Though it’s rarely straightforward, we can’t afford to not measure Economic Value. What social sites are driving the most traffic to your eBook’s landing page? Where are your customers coming from? Measuring for Economic Value will help you focus your marketing efforts on the sites and formats that work best for your CTA.

The Free Social Analytics Tools You Need in Your Arsenal

To help you avoid falling for vanity metrics, we’ve compiled a list of free tools that can aid you in understanding how users are interacting with your social sites and, ultimately, how you’re acquiring your customers. Without further ado, here are our favourite free tools for measuring social media metrics that actually matter (in no particular order)...

1. SumAll

SumAll social media measurement

Why we love it: SumAll delivers both a “Daily Digest” and “Week in Review” stat sheet straight to your inbox -- which means you save time. The free version provides information on reach and mentions which can help you determine how your users view you. It also compares your performance to the previous day and week to help you determine what type of content your followers care most about.

What it measures: Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate

2. Buffer

Buffer social media metrics

Why we love it: While primarily used for easily sharing articles, Buffer also calculates how many people clicked on the links you’ve shared. It addition, it measures reach, revealing how many people potentially saw your posts. Each week, it delivers a “social media report card” to your inbox highlighting your most popular posts.

What it measures: Amplification Rate, Applause Rate, Economic Value

3. Followerwonk

FollowerWonk social media metrics

Why we love it:  Followerwonk creates a robust metric report on any Twitter handle you search (try your own or a competitor’s). By comparing your overall social score to your competitors, you glean a better understanding of the track you’re on.

This tool also provides many great visuals, including a map with the locations of followers marked.

FollowerWonk social media metrics

One of the most useful features is graphs of when followers are most active. This feature is optimized with Buffer -- meaning that Followerwonk will update your Buffer schedule to coordinate with when your users (or the users you want) are most active.

What it measures: Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate, Economic Value

4. Iconosquare

IconoSquare social media metrics

Why we love it: Designed for Instagram, Iconosquare measures more than how many people like your endless stream of yoga poses. Iconosquare offers three different metrics that are a cut above the rest: ‘love rate’, ‘talk rate’, and ‘spread rate.’ Love rate is about follower engagement and how much they like your media. Talk rate is about commenting, and spread rate calculates the percentage of your engagement outside of your followers. All of these rates are shown in percentages instead of numbers. This gives you a better idea of how appealing your content is to those who follow you. Sure, a photo with 30 likes might seem great, but if you have a thousand followers, you might want to switch up your content.

What it measures: Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate

5. Google Analytics

Google Analytics social media metrics

Why we love it: If you’re not already using Google Analytics, stop what you’re doing and go set it up. It gives you an insane amount of incredibly useful information on your website, but it also provides information on social media referral stats. In other words, it tells you how many people are landing on your website from each social platform you’re using. This will help you determine where you should be concentrating your social media efforts for customer acquisition.

What it measures: Economic Value

6. Cyfe

Cyfe social media metrics

Why we love it: Cyfe allows you to create multiple dashboards that help you visualize your overall performance across all platforms. While it doesn’t necessarily offer any metrics that the sites don’t offer in-app, it allows you to see them in one user-friendly dashboard. This makes it much easier to compare what platforms provide the greatest ROI.

What it measures: Applause Rate, Economic Value

7. Keyhole

Keyhole social media metrics

Why we love it: Keyhole is a real-time hashtag tracker for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Its minimalist design makes it easy to see what hashtags are going to be the most useful for your content promotion strategy.

What it measures: Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Economic Value

8. Klout

Klout social media metrics

Why we love it: If any of your startup goals relate to thought leadership, Klout is for you. After you’ve connected all your social platforms, it gives you an overall score (0-100) on your influence. It also allows you to see how much of an impact you’re having on each account. This breakdown will help you identify which networks you impact greatest.

What it measures: Amplification Rate, Applause Rate, Economic Value

9. Riffle

Riffle social media metrics

Why we love it: Riffle is a browser plugin that allows you to see the stats and keywords of other social users. Once installed, the Riffle logo will appear next to social media users names. When you click on it, a metrics dashboard will pop up on the right side of your screen. In addition to seeing what users are talking about, Riffle allows you to check out the different hashtags people use most often in the Riffle results to see if they're engaged in your space or talking about your competitors. Also, check out the reply ratio (the horizontal bar of activity includes tweets vs retweets vs replies) to see if there is any likelihood that you’ll get a response if you reach out.

What it measures: Conversation Rate, Economic Value

10. Twazzup

Twazzup social media metrics

Why we love it: This tool allows you to see who your most influential Twitter followers are, allowing you to better target the right personnas. Twazzup also divides your retweet stats into photos and links which allows you to get a solid understanding of the content that your followers find the most valuable.

What it measures: Conversation Rate, Applause Rate

And lastly, don’t forget the platforms themselves! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other popular social media platforms provide their users with insightful analytics that show how their content is spreading throughout the networks.

Your turn: did we miss your “can’t function without” social media metrics tool? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Onboardly. We’re always adding tools to our arsenal.

[Photo credit: Daren]

What do you think?


I don’t join anything that wants to “see who you follow and follow new people.”

Excellent article, Rachael. Great list. To get the most out your social media campaigns, it is very important that you understand how users interact with your social sites. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at grexit.com)

SumAll is now a paid only service, FYI.

Thanks Rachel, excellent recommendations. I would wish more companies would focus on metrics that REALLY matter in the long rong, those that relate to authenticity and brand voice. Greetings, Marco (BD@ http://www.socialhub.io)

I represent Twitics. Twitics is an early-stage startup. It uncovers hidden patterns, trends and customer preferences by mixing publicly available Social Media data with AI.

Twitics is a new and very advanced service. It can even assess what people do, what are their psychological traits, behaviour patterns and much more.

We also have a free tool for startups and SMBs. Check out our website here: http://twitics.co