The 3-Step Social Media Grading System

How can we assess our efforts on social media? How do we know if our strategy is compelling? This grading system will help you refine your efforts and become more effective.

June 26th, 2017

Social media can still feel like a stab in the dark for too many churches. What’s working? Why is it working? Why is it not working?

Five years ago I was struggling to convince churches that social media was worth their time. That it wasn’t just a fad. That we were about to enter the biggest communication shift human history had seen in the last 500 years.

Frankly, I’m glad we’re past that.

The overwhelming majority of churches and ministries now recognize the importance of social media. It’s basic communication philosophy: go where the people are.

But how can we assess our efforts on social media? Well, before we can assess our social media efforts, we first need to identify the metric that matters most.

The Single Most Important Metric You Should Care About

Every organization and individual is trying to accomplish something different on social. Churches want people attending their weekend services, businesses want online purchases, influencers want follows, likes, and comments.

But at the root of it, there is only one metric that we can reliably track on social media. And thankfully, it’s the most important metric: attention.

Attention is the single most important metric you need to care about. Because without attention, nothing else can follow.

A church can’t inspire a family to attend a weekend service without first getting their attention. A business can’t compel an individual to make a purchase without first getting their attention. And an influencer can’t sell ad space without first compiling mass attention.

Attention is the game. Attention is the variable. Attention is the metric.

Knowing this, I’ve constructed The 3-Step Social Media Grading System to precisely pinpoint which of your posts are earning the most attention online.

Let’s dive into it.

Step #1: Engagement Divided By Reach

The first step in The 3-Step Social Media Grading System is the formula itself. The formula is very simple: Engagement divided by Reach.

Compiling these data points is different for each platform, but let’s take a look into how to do it on both Facebook and Instagram.

Finding Engagement & Reach On Facebook

To access the Engagement and Reach data points for a specific post on Facebook, first, head to your Facebook Page and then click on the number of people reached hyperlink on an individual post (see image below).

In the window that opens, click on the Audience & Engagement button within the right-hand column (see image below).

Within this window you’ll be able to see a variety of data points for this individual Facebook post, including both Reach and Engagement (see image below).

Once we have our Reach and Engagement data points, running them through the formula is very simple (Engagement divided by Reach). In this case, my Facebook post had 166 points of engagement and a reach of 11,276.

166/11,276 = 1.5 (scored out of 100)

Finding Engagement & Reach On Instagram

To access engagement and reach on Instagram, you’ll need to have a Business Account. Switching to a Business Account on Instagram is free and easy – click here for a guide on how to do it.

Once you’ve switched to a Business Account on ¬†Instagram, all future posts you publish will have a hyperlink below them that reads View Insights (see image below).

Clicking on the View Insights button will open up a screen that reveals the data points we’re looking for (see image below).

Again, once we have our Reach and Engagement data points, we can run them through our simple formula to see our grade. On this Instagram post, I had 408 points of engagement and a reach of 2,033.

408/2,033 = 20.1 (scored out of 100)

Step 2: Grade Every Post From The Last 3 Months

At this point you might be asking, “What’s a good grade out of 100? What should I be aiming for?”

Truthfully, there is no standard “good” grade or “bad” grade. It all comes down to what your grades are currently and improving them.

You may have also noticed the extreme differences in grades between the post from Facebook and the post from Instagram. The post on Facebook reached about 5X more people than the post on Instagram. But the post on Instagram had a grade that was about 13X higher.

Seeing the macro differences between social platforms can be helpful, but on the whole, comparing individual posts from different platforms isn’t all that helpful. There are too many variables.

However, comparing posts from the same platform is absolutely necessary to making this system work. And that’s why the second step in this formula is to take inventory of every single post you’ve published over the last three months (at the very least, over the last 30 days) and run each of them through the grading formula from the first step.

Once, you’ve completed that, arrange the posts in order. Put the highest performing posts at the top and the lowest performing posts at the bottom.

Then, move onto the third and final step.

Step #3: Reverse Engineer The Good & The Bad

Everything we’ve done so far is to get us to this point. By now, you should have a handful of social posts, ranked from best to worst.

Now, it’s your job to look at the best five posts and the worst five posts and begin to reverse engineer what made them succeed or what made them flop.

Specifically, look for common characteristics between the posts that performed well and the posts that performed poorly. Here are some characteristics to look for:

  • Time of day the posts were published
  • Day of the week the posts were published
  • Media type (text/video/photo/etc.)
  • Subject matter
  • Length of post


When properly followed, The 3-Step Social Media Grading System is tremendously powerful. It will give you insights that are unique and specific to you and your audience – not just generalized tips.

The application of this grading system is very simple…

Once you’ve determind your five best posts and five worst posts, determine what made the posts succeed or flop – and then – do more of what works and do less of what doesn’t.

Repeat this process every quarter continuing to double down on what works and eliminating what doesn’t. This will lead to more attention being earned on your social platforms and thus more long term growth.