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Social Media Analytics Guide – What & How to Track

With 71% people‘s buying decisions being influenced by social media, social media marketing has become an integral part of every business’s marketing plan.

Businesses belonging to any niche can use social media to reach, engage with and sell to a larger part of their target market.

However, the importance attached to social media outreach and marketing begs the following questions:

1. Is it resulting in actual measurable impact?

2. Which social media strategy is best for your business?

3. How do you know what’s working and not?

4. How do you know what’s the best use of your time and money?

 

Social media metrics or analytics are measured to answer those very questions. There are several social media analytics tools that could help you monitor your efforts. It is best to explore each of their features before deciding on what’s best for your business.

Kami Huyse has an excellent overview of what you should do with your social media metrics:

1. Diagnosis: Discover what works and doesn’t and refine your strategy
2. Prioritizing: Identify what’s most lucrative and focus most resources on that approach
3. Evaluation: Use metrics to match your spending to the ROI

Read on to discover what you should measure, why and how to actually do it.

1. Audience size

Measuring your audience size is crucial for two reasons:

a. It is necessary to build a relevant audience. Unless you monitor and ensure continuous growth of that number, the number of relevant audience members and your audience to client conversion rate will be low.
b. You can track the number of people you lose (unfollows, unlikes) and take necessary actions.

For you to reach more of your target audience, it is necessary for that number to grow week on week. Organically acquiring your social media audience is a slow and painstaking process (being honest here). That’s perfectly alright if you’re in no hurry to maximize on your market.

You could invest in paid ads for audience acquisition if:

a. Your product/ service is time sensitive (seasonal companies or companies connected to isolated events). You can’t afford to wait on organic growth in those cases.
b. You have a very specific, carefully planned audience conversion funnel in place to justify that spending.

Audience size is a simple metric. Most social media tools include this number. You could also directly view it as number of like son your company’s Facebook page or number of followers on your Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

2. Audience persona

Content is the core of a social media marketing strategy or any advertizing strategy for that matter.

Unless you are aware of:
a. Who your audience is
b. How they typically behave
c. What makes them tick

You can’t plan:
a. What you should say to them
b. How you should say it
c. When you should say it

Without that knowledge, you can’t optimize your content marketing strategy or your social media audience to client conversion rate.

Audience persona is tricky to get perfectly right, but any business owner or marketing professional could safely venture an informed guess.

What you should ask yourselves:

a. Which demographic is most likely to buy your product? (There could be more than one)

For instance, funnily, grand parents are Twitter’s largest going demographic, and teenagers or young adults are most likely to buy sneakers.

b. What are their characteristics?

Age, gender, location, job type, level of reading, interests and concerns. Twitter’s dashboard tells you most of these. Have you looked at it yet? Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Analytics also offer useful audience insights.

c. What are their behavioral patterns?

Do a quick survey and ask your audience how they would solve a particular problem, and you’ll learn a lot about them.

3. Audience growth rate

Unless you consistently monitor this metric and ensure that it shows a positive trend, your social media impact will stagnate.

Comparing your current audience size to yesterday’s, the week before or a month before could reveal two valuable insights:

a. Your approach is working, or
b. Something is going wrong

Some analytics tools offer this metric, so does Google Analytics. You could also manually note these numbers down and compare, but that’s time consuming.

4. Reach

How much of your audience is your social media content actually reaching? Although many marketers believe that reach as a metric isn’t as useful as engagement, it has value.

Your reach numbers will tell you how many feeds your social media post has been delivered to.

There’s always the possibility that people have viewed your content without making the effort to interact with it.

Viewing content or visibility is important because your message is registered even if it isn’t responded to. Those people could potentially buy your product in the future because they’ve seen it around a lot (more impactful when they see your content on their friend’s feeds).

Top of mind marketing is an entire niche dedicated to, as the name suggests, staying on top of your target market’s mind, and reach could be used to estimate how much you’re touching your audience. Reach could also impact brand recall, when it matters, when somebody wants to buy your product.

There’s a fine line between spamming and that though, and you shouldn’t cross the line to irritating rather than present.

5. Impressions

While reach is a measure of how many feeds or people your posts have reached, impressions tells how many times your post has been seen.

For instance, the same person could see your post twice, once when you share it and once when their friend does, so the impressions in this case become 2 while the reach is 1.

Impressions is a more refined metric to understanding top of mind impact and brand recall. On Twitter this becomes a complication, because Twitter feeds move very fast and even though a post reaches someone’s feed they needn’t necessarily see it.

However Twitter updated its algorithm, and Twitter dashboard now includes “Actual Impressions” which is the count of how many times a Tweet physically shows up on a person’s monitor.

Several online tools can calculate post impressions for you.

6. Engagement

If you added all the likes, shares and comments on a post, you’d arrive at the total engagement. It is as simple as that. Facebook also has “Talking about this” which includes re-shares (indirect shares that include the link without a reference to your company page).

Some tools online give you total times a post has been shared for any link that you submit.

Executives from the world over believe that engagement is the most important social media metric.

Why would they think so?

a. Engagement drives traffic to your websites, according to this study.

b. Engagement is also a good measure of the success of your content. You could vary this content and narrow down on what works best for your audience.

Most social media analytics tools provide engagement metrics. DrumUp may have started off a content curation app, but we now have engagement analytics as part of the app.

7. Content analysis

Content creation and marketing is a time consuming and costly task. You’re paying an employee to create that content and a good article takes a good couple of hours to research, put together, publish and promote.

That’s why it becomes vital to assess the type of content that is working best for your brand and what isn’t.

You could do an A/B test to figure that out, or you could check the content you post over time and draw conclusion based on engagement on each post.

If you run an email newsletter regularly, you could also refer to clicks on each blog post to see which titles or topics your audience likes best.

On social media, remember that different types of content perform differently on different social platforms.

Ideally, you shouldn’t have the same content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn because your target demographic is different on each platform.

Why?

Simply said Twitter has more men than women while that ratio is inverted on Facebook. The interests of your audience will also vary on different platforms.

Content analysis should be a consistent effort at set time intervals.

8. Brand mentions

Social media is the hand of the users, whether you like it or not, there are people out there talking about your brand right now.

The good news is, that may never be a bad thing!

Even if a person complained about something, you could turn that into a positive incident by giving them a timely and polite response.

Seamless


How?

You monitor your brand mentions, and respond ASAP.

A 3900 + follower Twitter page (like ours) easily receives 40 notifications on a dry day.

Unless you’re certain you can sift through that for mentions, you should use a social media monitoring tool to simplify the task. Most of them let you set notifications for keywords (your brand name in this case).

If the social media comment is positive, you still need to catch it quick.

Why?

Because you can then share that post on social media with a note that you’ve been mentioned. You could even thank the person who made the positive comment and build relationships that way.

Jet Blue 2


Jet Blue'

9. Sentiment analysis

If you’re managing social media for a startup that simply can’t spare any time, or for a large organization that receives too many mentions to manually sort and attend to, you need a tool for sentiment analysis.
Sentiment analysis is an extension of brand mentions where a tool views your mentions, categorizes the emotion attached to it and then notifies you with an indication of whether the mention is positive, negative or neutral.

Why is this important? Because while positive and negative comments can be dealt with at a later time, negative comments require immediate attention or they could be picked up and virally shared across social media.

Most customers expect a response within 60 minutes.

Even if the comment isn’t picked up and dispersed, that customer could switch to another company out of impatience.

Some tools on this list offer sentiment analysis.

10. Traffic

This one’s a no-brain-er.

Why measure traffic?

Website and blog traffic are closer to home and represent numbers that are potential leads and conversions.

If your company allows advertisements and is paid for them, traffic could be a direct measure of revenue.

Traffic is also a measure of your current content strategy on social media.

Changed something off last and saw a drastic dip in website or blog traffic?

You now know the reason for the dip and what you need to do to bring the numbers right back up again.

An important aspect of social media marketing is pulling people from social media and driving them back to your websites and blogs.

If you’re doing that, you could measure traffic after implementation of social media marketing over traffic before and assess the success of your strategy.

For blogs you should keep track of your subscription numbers.

11. Referrals

One of the factors that decide the authority of a website is the number of quality back links it has to other websites with authority.

If other sites have featured you, or if you have guest blogged for them, you could find traffic directed from them to your site.

If that’s happening it is essential to identify which sites send you the most traffic. Doing so will help you focus your resources better when working on building links.

For instance if a particular website is sending you a ton of traffic, you should make effort to return the favor and initiate a relationship with people associated with those sites.

Referrals are great for identifying potential partnership.

Additionally, you could also measure referrals from different social media platforms and work harder on the ones that drive most traffic to your sites.

For instance, if your business is a fashion brand for women you’re most likely to receive a lot of traffic from Pinterest. But you could be the exception and find something completely out of charatcter, which is why you should monitor your referrals consistently.

Google analytics includes referral traffic as one of its metrics.

12. Leads and Conversions

Ultimately all marketing efforts are aimed at earning leads and then conversions.

It shouldn’t be any different for social media marketing.

While this is difficult to measure because of the gap between social media and how people actually arrive at your website, there are alternatives.

You could simply ask your client how they came across your product, as many companies do.

Several large companies have their sales teams directly interact with potential clients from social media. In those scenarios leads and conversions from social media are plainly apparent.

Final word

Which of these metrics are most important for your business? Document them and list goals under each metric. Next, figure out how you’ll monitor them. You could use any of these tools to do so. Finally, set a schedule of how often you’ll monitor these metrics and get started!

Image credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com