Paid vs Organic Social Analytics - Best KPIs to Track

Get Paid Analytics Tracking

Nielsen reports that US internet users are spending 215% more time online this year, and with everyone so dialed into devices, there’s a lot of potential on social media platforms to get your brand in front of the right audience.

In the wide world of social media marketing, determining the best ways to leverage your channels comes down to one question: what’s the ROI?

The “i” in that acronym stands for investment, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary. While paid social media campaigns impact your budget, doing well organically requires time and human capital to be successful. Whether you’re looking into paid or organic social performance, there’s some form of investment that needs to be accounted for to understand which messages are the most valuable. And there are certain metrics that will help you track it most effectively.

What’s the difference between paid and organic social media?

Paid social media can be considered any social activity that is tied to marketing dollars. Promoted posts, ad placements, and follower-driving campaigns all fall into this category. To a more broad extent, sponsored influencer partnerships and product tie-ins would also ladder up to “paid” social efforts.

The myriad of ad targeting options now available for paid social media gives brands more avenues than ever to get the coveted attention of their ideal audience. “Look-alike” campaigns and demographic targeting can put your ads in front of potential customers based on their interests, actions, and lifestyles. Advertising on social also provides a great entry point to your buyer journey, since 58% of consumers on average visit a brand’s social page before going to their website.

Cypto dot com promoted tweet

This promoted post on Twitter from appears along with other tweets in people’s newsfeeds. 

Benefits of paid social media:

  • Increase brand awareness by expanding your social channels’ reach
  • Promote products and services to new and existing customers at scale
  • Drive conversions through content and website tie-ins

Organic social media is social activity that promotes your brand and does not have any marketing spend attached to it. This could look like creating an editorial calendar for consistent posting on social channels, developing networking strategies around engaging with followers, or participating in groups and chats where your target customers live to build your online community. Influencers also play into organic social media strategy, as “friendly” followers who promote your brand without being paid can boost your credibility and visibility.

While you may not get as many eyes on your content without money backing it, organic social efforts are essential to creating an online persona for your brand and connecting with prospects and customers alike. Brands with a good social media presence are in a much better position to sell their products, with 40% of users reporting that they are actively deciding what to buy based on what they have seen on social media platforms. Positive mentions and customer reviews will ultimately lead to more brand recognition.

With over 600K followers, WeWork’s Instagram grid showcases their unique coworking spaces around the world, while appealing to audience members who have a flair for interior design.

Benefits of organic social media:

  • Create a brand voice that promotes your mission, attitude, and professional purpose
  • Build communities with followers who can become brand ambassadors to new audiences
  • Support customers through engagement and attentiveness that makes them feel valued

Never miss a campaign insight again - Talkwalker Paid Analytics

Once you understand the different audiences you can reach through your paid campaigns and organic social posts, you can determine the impact that these initiatives have on your business bottom line. The metrics that matter vary depending on what type of social strategy you’re implementing.

Here are the stats to pay the most attention to when working out your social media ROI:

Top KPIs to track: Paid Social

Conversion rate: Whatever your ultimate ad goal may be - site visits, product purchases, contact form fills, newsletter sign-ups, etc. - you need to track how often people complete it (AKA convert on your ad) to gauge its effectiveness. Find your conversion rate by dividing the number of goal completions you have by the total impressions your ad receives. If your ad had 100 goal completions out of the 5,000 impressions it received, you’d have a 2% conversion rate.

Cost-per-click (CPC): Calculating the ultimate cost of each click on your social ad impacts your strategy from many angles. At a basic level, it tracks marketing spend and allows you to forecast ad costs to inform your budget. At a higher level, CPC analysis will help establish brand and product positioning based on which messaging provides the most value. CPC can be found by dividing total ad spend by the number of clicks your ad received.

Post reach: There’s an old industry adage about how successful advertising attracts the most eyeballs and the best eyeballs, and this certainly still applies to digital marketing. Understanding how many people your paid social posts can potentially be seen by will tell you how broad your ad scope is, and whether or not you’re targeting the right audiences. Most social platforms will share stats on your posts’ reach within their ad analytics, but using a social listening tool can provide you with a more holistic view of campaign performance through 360-views of data across your channels.

Talkwalker Analytics virality map for Netflix The Crown tweet

This Talkwalker virality map shows the trajectory over time of a post from the Twitter account of the Netflix show “The Crown”, which had a potential reach of nearly 200K. 

Page visits: For ads that direct people away from social media and onto your owned channels - whether it’s your website, blog, marketplace, or somewhere else - it’s valuable to map how they navigate through the content you provide them. Tracking the journey of potential customers once they click on a social media ad will help you understand your sales funnel, and can give you insights on how to shorten your path to purchase. You can analyze this by using platforms like Google Analytics or SEMrush to view referral paths and see which pages lead to the most customers.

Top KPIs to track: ORGANIC

Engagement: Making sure that people actually want to interact with what you’re publishing on your branded social media channels is essential. Engagement metrics such as likes and comments on posts, as well as the number of shares they earn, will help you understand how people are receiving your content and which messages make the most impact with your followers. This can inform everything from post scheduling to creative design to the overarching editorial strategy for each social channel you use.

Talkwalker Analytics engagement metrics for Nov 15 Naomi Osaka post with Nike

Nike’s brand engagement began increasing on November 15 in correlation with a post by Naomi Osaka, one of their celebrity partners, announcing the release of their co-branded collection.

Click-thru rate (CTR): Which social media posts are getting your brand site traffic? And which platforms are these clicks coming from? Tracking click-thru rate - the amount of clicks your social posts receives divided by the number of impressions it has - tells you a lot about your audience. Your posts’ CTR can reveal the products your customers are most interested in, as well as which social channels give you the most high-intent followers.

New visitors: Your social media posts should be an extension of your brand’s owned channels, so a successful strategy means that your organic posting efforts should contribute to new website visitors who are keen to learn more about your product. Keep track of how many new people you’re acquiring month over month and compare it against your social media activity to understand the impact that followers have on referral traffic.

Share of voice (SOV): Understand the true impact of your social presence by seeing how often your brand is mentioned and tagged online compared with the other top players in your industry. Use social monitoring tools to help you track your SOV against your major market competitors through mentions data. To calculate SOV, find your total brand mentions for a period of time and divide that by the total number of brand mentions received by both your brand and your top competitors. Then, use findings from the other organic metrics outlined here to shape a strategy that will help you sway the conversation your way.

Full-stack campaign measurement with Talkwalker Paid Analytics

While some KPIs apply more to paid over organic social (and vice versa), there are also a couple of metrics you should keep on eye on that can be impacted by either effort:

Followers: Isn’t collecting fans the ultimate goal behind anyone’s social media efforts, brand or otherwise? Paid campaigns and organic posts both contribute to follower count, if done right. So make sure that you’re watching that number, and step in if you suddenly see a drop in followers that may be connected to bad press or customer service issues.

Influencers: Whether you’ve contracted a celebrity to feature your brand on The Grid or a happy customer posts a picture with their favorite one of your products, it pays to have your company validated by people online. “Influencers” can come in many forms, so see who’s mentioning your brand to activate community members and gain traction among your target demographic.

Talkwalker Analytics top influencer reporting

Talkwalker tracks the top online voices, media types where they have the most presence, and more data to give a bird’s eye view into the most influential social media users for your brand.

Monitoring these paid and organic KPIs are just the beginning to social media success. Put them into practice by allowing the numbers to inform your strategy and help you learn what makes the most impact on your audience members.

Paid social on Talkwalker


Share it