There’s no question that having a strong social presence really can help your brand and knowing the steps to measure social media effectively is a key factor in this.
Data-driven decisions are the gold standard in management today. You want to be able to take advantage of cutting-edge technology and techniques while also keeping track of data and other metrics.
Understanding Key Social Media Metrics
Understanding how key social metrics work, and being able to track and analyse them, will allow you – even as new social media channels become more important and others alter their algorithms – to answer the deceptively simple-sounding question: “How are we doing?”
Of course, it’s not actually a simple question, but knowing the steps to measure social media effectively, understanding the data that’s been put in front of you – as well as identifying which data is important for your brand and business – will allow you to develop the necessary insights to keep your social media content strategy on track.
- What information do you need to know your social media activities are effective?
- How do you choose which metrics you need to monitor?
- What calculations do you use for those metrics?
- Once you have the numbers, what do you need to do to understand them?
Essentially there are two types of social media measurement metrics; ongoing monitoring – which tracks activity and changes indefinitely; and campaign focused metrics – which have a start and an end date. Any effective social media strategy will include analysis of both.
More Than Reporting
Knowing the steps to measure social media is a bit more complex than just reporting on metrics. You aren’t answering a simple “how much engagement” or “what content worked best” but seeking to understand WHY a post engaged your audience and WHY a particular type of content performed well.
You need to question and validate the social media plan you’re using and the goals you’re wanting to achieve from it. Analysis helps to establish WHY you post at a specific time of day, WHY you post as frequently, or infrequently, as you do, WHY you use Facebook rather than Twitter (for example) and lets you answer the question “are these the most effective tactics for my brand or business?”
Here’s our five steps to measure social media effectively.
Step 1 – Decide What Your Social Media Goals Are
There are hundreds of combinations of metrics you can analyse during a social media audit and deciding which ones to focus on will depend on what your brand goals are and what platforms, and tools, you’re using.
There are five basic social media goals every brand or business should be tracking irrespective of which market they’re in:
- Followers/Growth – this one’s obvious, the higher your follower numbers and the more growth you see, the more potential there is for your brand and business
- Engagement – the social bit of social media. Likes, shares, mentions, comments allow you to build connections with your audience, strengthen your brand or business reputation.
- Reach – This is directly tied in with the first three. The more followers and engagement, the better your chances of spreading awareness and attracting new audience and potential customers and clients. Make sure your reach isn’t because of negative opinion though!
- Traffic – Theoretically an easy one to measure using a variety of tools, including built-in social platform analytics. It’s easy to see how many link clicks your social posts had, most social platforms report that. However, measuring genuine website traffic and visitor journeys from social is more difficult.
- Conversion – The Holy Grail of marketing. Either you’re driving traffic to your website to sell products or you’re wanting people to sign up as new clients for your services. Converting organic traffic into sales or new customers is tough but can be done.
Step 2 – Look At Your Existing Data
This is where things get interesting. Look at your existing data to see if you can highlight trends, identify the type of post content which is most successful but also be aware that the data can be misleading and make sure you look at it in conjunction with other metrics when you measure social media effectiveness.
One example given by MavSocial is worth considering.
A client was posting to a platform at the same time each day because the metrics showed this was when followers were most active but their reach, engagement and follower numbers weren’t changing.
Looking deeper into the data, it became clear the posts were reaching the same followers each time but missing out completely on those who checked their social media at different times of day. Posting at different times of day resulted in new engagement and greater reach.
Make sure you test any assumption made from your data analysis and ensure you’re comparing like with like. Engagement metrics across platforms are different (i.e. Facebook to Twitter to Instagram) and you need to allow for your analysis to follow audience behaviour on each platform individually.
Calculating the average per post engagement for specific types of posts is a useful technique for analysing content performance for different types of content and one where tools like Beacon become invaluable.
With Beacon you can generate tracked short links to measure and analyse website traffic from each post, organise those links into campaigns and channels to create structure, and see how engaged your website visitors are.
This allows you to easily identify which channels and campaigns, and individual social posts are providing the best return on investment.
Beacon provides a bridge between social media and your website, offering sophisticated insights you can’t get anywhere else and tracks from click to conversion. It gives marketing teams the knowledge and actionable insights they need.
This lets them run better online media campaigns – with more audience-relevant content and posts – higher social-to-website traffic, and more engagement with content. All of which leads to better results (pipeline, sales, or whatever targets are specified for social media campaigns).
Step 3 – Monitor Your Data
If you’re running multiple channels – a blog, email campaigns, social media posts on platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc – then you need to isolate the right metrics to measure for your business. Use your business goals to define these.
If your main business goal is to sell more products, you should be looking at engagement, follower growth, extended reach and email sign-ups, and recording which content resulted in visitors to the website and then converted into purchases.
Make sure you reuse your best performing posts and create unique hashtags which are easy to monitor. Check that the metrics you’re measuring directly related to the campaign. Are you running a promotion on Twitter? You can set targets including number of shares per hour, retweets, direct clicks through to your website from the Tweets, purchases made via a landing page set up for the campaign.
As well as Twitter’s own inbuilt analytics, Beacon will also help here as you can identify the direct actions from any individual social post and use campaign targets to track their effectiveness and it tracks real-time data so you can see within minutes if your posts are working and adjust accordingly.
Step 4 – Track The Data
When it comes to tracking the data, there are a number of considerations to bear in mind. According to HubSpot every analytics statement should include: Source and/or Segment +1 Value +1 Metric +1 Range which gives – Facebook (source) Mobile (segment) drove 40% (value) of all clicks (metric) today (range) – for example.
In practical terms, this means you should bring as much data diversity as possible into any strategy analysis and allow for variations in the results.
As always, apply SMART guidelines to your efforts:
- Specific: Set real targets with a deadline i.e. I want 500 more followers by the end of the year
- Measurable: Make sure they’re trackable goals.
- Attainable: Work towards a challenging goal but one which is realistic. Don’t try to become number one in your market overnight.
- Realistic: Consider what you or your team is truthfully capable of doing and take into account stumbling blocks or hurdles i.e. time or staff availability.
- Time: Keep to your deadline.
You can use Google Analytics UTM codes, or tools like Bit.ly, Ow.ly and Beacon, to create a shortform URL which includes key tracking data which allows you to identify which particular social post or blog led to traffic landing on your website.
Create one for a specific online ad as this then allows you to see direct visits, you can then measure those against any subsequent purchases and use the data to tailor further promotions.
Step 5 – Using Sentiment Analysis
Sentiment analysis looks at what’s being said about a particular brand, business or product and collates it into usable data which can be helpful for any social media campaign. Recent advances in technology and in big data/data lakes mean the ability of algorithms to analyze text has improved massively.
Nick Martin, social engagement coordinator at Hootsuite, says: “Social media sentiment is the perceived positive or negative mood being portrayed in a social media post or engagement.”
So while analytics might tell you that 5,000 people have mentioned your brand on Twitter during a specific campaign time period, it’s not necessarily good news if a percentage of those are negative.
Tracking these mentions allows you to understand what the individual person who has either @mentioned your brand, or shared a social media post with an additional comment, feels about your business. This gives you the necessary insight to know how to respond – or even if you should respond at all.
Shashank Gupta, in an article on Medium, writes that it is important to classify incoming customer conversation about a brand based on following lines:
- Key aspects of a brand’s product and service that customers care about.
- Users’ underlying intentions and reactions concerning those aspects.
Knowing this information provides insights into whether the conversations are positive, neutral or negative. It also lets you identify whether the conversation is about an opinion on your brand, someone sharing news about it, as well as if people are discussing marketing offers, giving suggestions for improvements or new products, offering appreciation of their interactions with your brand or complaints.
Brand24 is a sentiment analysis tool which collects and analyze pieces of writing including predefined keywords in real time. It lets you set up alerts which can trigger if there is a negative comment made about your brand, allowing you to respond quickly and diffuse potentially damaging situations.
Social media analytics have the power to reveal potent opportunities to increase your engagement. Reference the right data to increase the efficiency of your marketing activities and you’ll start to see true value in your ROI.
Start using Beacon today if you really want to understand how to analyse social media marketing. Get your free trial now.