Why Should I Benchmark My Social Media Strategies?

By: Ryan Fontana – Instructor, University of San Diego Professional and Continuing Education

Your social media strategy is only as good as the story you tell and the ability you have to engage with your audience.  There are plenty of different stories to tell. Stories that help answer customer questions and solve their problems.  Stories that help them make a decision. Stories that educate and inform.  And of course, stories that entertain.

I encourage you to test telling all of these stories via your social channels, but only if you’re willing to benchmark the engagement and use this data to make informed decisions on which social strategies for best for your audience.  You’ll find there is no blueprint story, but you’ll also find that different times of day/week/year are better suited for telling different stories.  But don’t guess. Benchmark, analyze and then execute.

Okay, fine. But How?

There are many different data points to benchmark, but one of the most common is your Engagement Rate.  This can work across most social channels where you’ve invested your time and effort, so you can learn over time where to invest most of your efforts based on audience interactions.

The formula is as follows:

Engagement Rate = (Likes + Comments) / Followers at Time of Post

You can’t go back in time to use this formula because you don’t know how many followers you had.  But it’s never too late to get started.  I recommend creating an Excel Sheet to keep track of everything, with each social channel on its own tab.

How Often Should I Benchmark?

I hate to say it, but it depends.

There a number of factors to consider about the content of the post itself. If you are leveraging pop culture and telling stories that have a quick shelf life, consider looking at the engagement rate 1 day after the post. Then look again at 1 week. What is the data telling you?

Start testing different strategies. Benchmark this for every post and then analyze at the end of the month/quarter the results.  Again, what is the data telling you? What trends are you seeing? Do educational posts get higher/lower engagement rate than entertainment posts? Do different times of day offer different levels of engagement?

Is There Anything Else Besides Engagement Rate?

Engagement rate is just one metric to benchmark:

  • Sentiment scores (available from free social tools)
  • Google Analytics data (for the more advanced strategist)
  • The number of followers per channel (what channel has had the highest growth rate each month/quarter?)

PRO TIP! When possible, benchmark these metrics (and engagement rate) for your competitors, too.

If you are looking for some other metrics, here are some specific to social channels.


  • Fan Growth
  • Average Reply Time


  • Follower Growth
  • Favorites
  • Retweets
  • Mentions
  • Response Rate
  • Average Reply Time


  • Follower Growth Rate
  • Pin Growth
  • Re-pin Growth
  • Likes Growth
  • Comments Growth


  • Follower Growth Rate
  • Post Frequency


  • Follower Growth
  • Hiring Updates Frequency

Do Performance Metrics Vary by Industry?

Not every industry audience engages equally.  As such, it’s important to look at trends in your industry to get a feel for how you perform against the competition. As noted above, you can track this data yourself and compare over time, but companies like Rival IQ and Marketing Profs compile large data sets over entire industries, so they could save you some time!

About the Author

Ryan Fontana is an experienced digital marketer with both in-house and agency experience since 2009. He leads one of USD’s Professional and Continuing Education’s most popular strategic online marketing courses, Social Media Marketing, and is a Senior Team Lead for Seer Interactive. Ryan assists in overseeing the SEO division for the San Diego office. This includes building digital marketing strategies based on understanding/addressing audience pain points, particularly through SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media all working together. His client oversight spans across multiple verticals/industries including E-commerce, Lead Generation, Start Ups, Fortune 500, B2B SaaS and Enterprise.  Ryan is also heavily active in leading the corporate education and training program for a 50+ person division. Originally from the small (but proud) state of Delaware, he has been located in San Diego since 2013 and spends his free time outside as much as possible attending concerts and traveling. But when inside, he is likely watching sports and playing guitar.

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