Data is the currency of social media marketing.
It’s the lifeblood of your campaigns. Without it, there’s no way to properly analyze your audience or measure your results.
Data is what justifies the time we spend writing posts, crafting campaigns, and connecting with our audiences.
Understanding social media analytics is essential for making data useful. Modern analytics tools provide power that marketers could have only dreamed of just a decade ago.
However, tools are only as effective as our ability to use them. In addition, data is only valuable as the insights we can extract from it.
Download Your Free Social Media Analytics Kit
In order to apply the advice in this post, download the kit below. It includes:
- A Social Media Marketing Performance Report Excel template to help you track your performance metrics.
- A Social Media Content Creation + Measurement spreadsheet to help you write social posts, organize post images, and store post-level performance data.
- A Social Media Content Performance Presentation PowerPoint template to help you nail your next reporting presentation.
- A Social Media Content Strategy template to help you apply your data insights to create better content.
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The challenge thus facing social media marketers is threefold. Successful practitioners must understand each of the following:
- How to know which data needs to be measured.
- How to find and analyze that data.
- How to use data insights to create better content.
In this post, you’ll learn exactly how to slice and dice data like a social analytics ninja.
Introducing Social Analytics: The Easiest Way To Understand Your Social Media Engagement
Bring your social media data together, all in one place, with CoSchedule. With our new Social Analytics capabilities, you can:
- Measure the success of every social message so you can re-share your most engaging content (and improve future messages).
- Use real data to prove the ROI of the work you do.
- Identify trends and understand what your audience wants.
- Know what's working (and what's not). Save time and see how all your networks are performing within a single dashboard.
See Social Analytics in action:
So, What Does Social Media Analytics Mean, Anyway?
This term can mean different things to different people. Are we talking about overall performance on social media? Or, perhaps we could be referencing social media content analysis? Could we even mean social media audience analysis?
This topic gets complex fast, and any of the above answers could be correct. To make things simple, this post will focus on how to understand three things:
- How your social media profiles are growing.
- How your social media content is performing.
- How to turn data into action to create better content.
Build Your Social Media Analytics Toolbox
Every good craftsperson has a quality set of tools. Here are the options we recommend for doing social media analytics work:
- Google Analytics: It’s free and powerful.
- In-App Analytics: Most major social media networks provide fairly robust internal analytics.
- Cyfe: This freemium web app is essential for building custom data dashboards.
- Simply Measured: These folks offer some excellent free tools to help perform a variety of social media tasks.
There are certainly more tools available. However, these are the options we’ll use for the purposes of this post.
How To Set Social Media Goals
You need a purpose for gathering and analyzing your data.
This means you need to set goals. After all, how are you supposed to hit your target when you’re unsure what you’re aiming for?
Let’s outline five basic social media marketing goals you could potentially establish:
- Traffic: Social media is a vital traffic driver to blogs and websites for many publishers.
- Follower Growth: The more people following your accounts, the more people you can reach, more easily.
- Engagement: This is the “social” part of social media. Likes, shares, mentions, and comments are equal opportunities to build connections with your audience and prospects. This can include industry influencers, current or potential customers, or the audience for your content.
- Reach / Impressions: Social media content exists to be seen. Getting in front of more viewers means more awareness for your brand and content. These may seem like soft metrics, but there is value in gaining exposure (as long as you’re not being discussed in a negative light).
- Conversions: Marketing is ultimately about driving sales. Converting organic social media traffic can be tough. Paid advertising, while inherently more conversion-centric, presents challenges of its own too. However, it is possible to drive conversions from your organic content.
It’s also important to tie social media goals to overall business objectives.
Follow this visual guide to map your metrics to your bottom line:
How To Use Google Analytics For Social Media Analysis
Google Analytics provides so much data, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Before we dive into each specific network, let’s look at how to use this tool to find two key metrics (which apply to all networks):
- Referral Traffic
- Blog / Website Conversions
Here’s how to find each of these pieces in Google Analytics.
1. Visit your Google Analytics account. Then, click through Overview > All Traffic > Channels > Social.
2. Here, you’ll find data from your referral traffic from every social network.
3. Next, let’s help you figure out how to find conversions from your social media referral traffic. This requires setting up a Goal in Google Analytics. Once this step is completed, you’ll see Conversions here:
If you haven’t set up Conversion goals for your site or blog, this official video from the Google Analytics team will show you how to do this:
How To Understand Social Media Analytics On Every Platform
Every social media network has unique purposes and strengths. Before we dig into understanding analytics on each one, let’s ensure you’re using the right platforms to achieve the right goals first.
Facebook Analytics: Which Metrics Should You Monitor?
Facebook’s declining organic reach has made the network tougher than ever for marketers. Here’s how to find the data you need to ensure your posts are laser-focused on the right audience:
- Likes: People may not take time to comment. However, a Like is a quick indication that your post resonated. Pay attention to other emotions expressed too (such as humor, anger, or sadness).
- Comments: Positive comments mean your post hit the mark (unless your post was intended to elicit a negative reaction). Pay close attention to negative comments as well, however. They might teach you about things you can improve.
- Shares: You’ve probably heard your boss talk about “going viral.” Share counts are, in a sense, a measure of virality. More shares generally reflects greater interest in your content.
- Referral Traffic: Moving users from Facebook to your website helps get your content read. This helps establish your brand as an authoritative voice while increasing the odds your blog and website content will convert readers into customers.
- Reach: It's getting tougher to reach folks on Facebook. However, it's still an important metric for knowing how many people see your posts.
- Page Views: More people looking at your page equals exposure for your brand.
- Engagement Rate: Facebook calculates engagement rate by weighing the number of people who like, comment on, or share your posts against the total number of people who see your content. The higher this number, the more interesting users find your content. This is helpful for determining what your audience does and doesn’t like. It also provides a barometer for how your efforts are performing overall.
- Video Metrics: If you’re posting videos natively on Facebook, it’s important to know how long they’re being viewed.
- Page Fan Growth: More fans means more people see your posts. That equals more people seeing your content, which in turn helps build your authority and even drive conversions. However, do keep in mind that quality beats quantity here.
- Conversions: If you’re creating Facebook posts that direct to blog posts or web pages with conversion steps, use Google Analytics to monitor those conversions. This will tell you whether the messaging in your posts matches the messaging on your destination pages. It can also validate the persuasiveness of your copy.
How To Find This Data
Here’s how to use each tool in your box to gather this data.
The Facebook Insights tab on your company’s brand page is an easy place to start. It provides an incredible amount of data completely for free.
1. Find your Facebook Insights tab.
2. Next, you’ll see your Overview page. Here, you can get a quick glance at:
- Actions On Page
- Page Views
- Page Likes
- Post Engagements
You’ll also see an option to Export Data to an Excel or .csv file. This makes viewing detailed Page Data, Post Data, and Video Data a bit easier.
3. Beneath the Overview tab, you’ll find access to more detailed data:
Here, you can find everything you need to know when it comes to your page engagement data.
Twitter Analytics: Which Metrics Should You Monitor?
Twitter analytics are only slightly simpler than on Facebook. Here are the metrics you should monitor for Twitter:
- Retweets: Again, odds are someone in your organization has asked you about “going viral.” The more retweets, the more your content spreads.
- Replies: A lot of people see a lot of tweets each day. That makes earning responses difficult. However, if you’re able to generate discussion and replies, you know you’re striking a chord with your audience.
- Referral Traffic: This is a big one. With Facebook organic reach in decline, Twitter may have more relevance than ever for driving traffic back to blogs and websites.
- Tweets Linking To You: Feel your ears burning? That’s just all the folks talking about your content and sharing your links on Twitter.
- Tweet Likes: Validation feels good. More importantly, Likes mean your content is appreciated. The more Likes, the better.
- Tweet Impressions: Tweets don’t always have to earn engagement to have value. Getting your brand and content seen can yield benefits by itself. Think of it like placing billboards on the information superhighway (we’re going to bet no one under the age of 25 got this joke).
- Profile Visits: This indicates interest in your brand and what you’re about.
- Follower Growth: The more followers, the better (as long as you’re attracting the right kinds of people). Ideally, that means people who find your content valuable (and might one day want to buy your products or services).
How To Find This Data
Twitter offers fairly robust analytics within its web app.
1. Log into your account and visit Twitter Analytics.
2. The first page you’ll see if your Analytics Home page.
Here, you can find (as you’d expect) a high-level overview of your performance for the last 28 days. This includes:
- Tweet Impressions: This is how many people saw your tweets in their feeds.
- Profile Visits: Self-explanatory. This is the number of times users visited your profile.
- Mentions: Tracks the number of times your profile was tagged in a tweet.
- Follower Growth: This is worth keeping an eye on, particularly if growing your following is a priority (as it should be).
- Tweets Linking To You: This is the number of tweets including links to your website or blog. These are valuable for sending traffic to your blog.
You can also quickly see your top performing tweets. All in all, this is a fair amount of data (for free).
3. Next, click the Tweets tab.
At the top, you’ll find your daily tweet impressions for the past 28 days.
Below that, you’ll find impression and engagement rate data for all your individual tweets. These can be sorted to include All Tweets, Top Tweets, and Tweets And Replies together. The right-hand panel also provides:
- Overall engagement rate
- Link clicks
4. Now, bounce over the Audience tab.
The level of data Twitter provides here is almost astounding. You can quickly find out what your audience is most interested in, their household income, what kinds of products they buy, and more.
Pinterest Analytics: Which Metrics Should You Monitor?
Pinterest is interesting (or shall we say, “pinteresting” … sorry, we’ll leave jokes to professionals from here on). These are the metrics that you should be monitoring:
- Saves: These show interest in your content, suggesting it’s something they don’t want to forget.
- Clicks: Clicks equal traffic. More traffic equals greater chance for conversions.
- Likes: Likes indicate interest in your content. Make note of what gets clicked and what doesn’t.
- Average Daily Impressions: Getting in front of more eyes raises brand and product awareness.
- Average Daily Viewers: Same as above here.
- Average Monthly Engaged: Impressions are great. Engagement is even better. It means your content was compelling enough to click.
- Impressions: Similar to other networks, impressions are useful to gauge content exposure. Even if a user doesn’t click, you’ve still created a mental connection.
How To Find This Data
Simply log into your company’s Pinterest account. Next, check out your Overview page. Here, you can find daily and monthly viewer and impression data:
Clicking the More > button drills deeper into each top-level section.
Your Pinterest Profile:
This view displays more data from your top performing pins and boards. It’s worth noting that adjusting the dates allows you to view progression going as far back as you’d like.
People You Reach:
This view under the Demographics tab provides a simple breakdown of your audience based on location, language and gender.
Clicking the Interests tab yields interesting information about what your audience likes. This can be immensely helpful for guiding which content you should pin:
The Activity tab is useful for getting specific data on which pins from your website are driving the most engagement. This is extremely useful for gauging blog content performance on Pinterest.
LinkedIn Analytics: Which Metrics Should You Monitor?
This video provides a good oversight of how Insights work for company pages on LinkedIn.
- Impressions: Each impression is an opportunity to get your message to a viewer.
- Clicks: Even better than impressions, more clicks means more traffic (and maybe even more conversions).
- Interactions: Even if it doesn’t result in driving attention to your blog or website, interactions still imply interest in your post.
- Engagement Rate: This is a clear indicator of how valuable your content is to your audience.
- Reach: Ideally, you’ll want your content to drive shares so it gets seen by more than just your followers. This measures how many people see your content in their feed.
- Engagement (Total): While it’s useful to check engagement at a per-post level, this gives you a high-level overview of your overall performance.
- Visitor Demographics: LinkedIn is a professional network. Therefore, it’s safe to assume most followers will be folks working in your industry. However, this is useful to look at periodically to see what experience levels your followers have. If you’re looking to attract entry-level recruits, but only senior-level managers follow your page, you might consider switching up your content strategy. This is just one example of how this data can be helpful.
- Page Views: This tells you the number of times someone visits your page. The more interest and exposure you earn for your brand, the better.
- Unique Visitors: This tells you exactly how many individuals are viewing your page. Again, the more, the better.
Where To Find This Data
There are two ways to gather this data:
- Manually monitoring each individual post.
- Under the Analytics tab.
Let’s check out the Analytics tab. Start by visiting your company’s profile and clicking here:
Scroll down and you’ll find your Reach and Engagement data:
The Reach tab is particularly useful for understanding exactly how many people see your posts. Take some time to click each tab under Engagement as well. This can give you a detailed view of how your content is performing across the following metrics:
- Followers Acquired
Google+ Analytics: Which Metrics Should You Monitor?
Google+ makes it possible to analyze performance both within Google Analytics and your Google My Business dashboard (both for Local Pages and Brand Pages). Between these two resources, you can get a decent look at how well you're performing (even if the process of analyzing Google+ performance is slightly more complex, and just a touch less in-depth, than other networks).
Fortunately, the folks at Online-Behavior.com have built an excellent guide on the technical intricacies of analyzing Google+ performance using Google Analytics. Plus, our friends at Steady Demand have written what might be the most authoritative post on analyzing Google+ marketing that we've seen. We'll defer to them for this section.
Instagram Analytics: Which Metrics Should You Monitor?
Instagram doesn’t provide much data to analyze (yet). However, it’s worth monitoring some basic metrics to ensure you’re getting the most brand awareness for your time spent on this visually-driven network. Here are some of the metrics you should be monitoring:
- Likes: Given the limited number of data points made available on this network, Likes provide a clear and immediate indicator that your content is compelling.
- Comments: More comments equal greater interest in your content (provided they’re positive).
- Engagement Rate: This will let you know if your content is interesting to your audience.
- Clicks: Links can be placed in bio boxes. This represents one way in which Instagram can drive engagement that goes beyond branding and awareness.
- Total Followers: More followers means more opportunity to be seen.
Where To Find This Data:
As of this writing, Instagram is promising to roll out several new analytics features. Head over to the Instagram for Business Blog to learn more.
For now, the team at Simply Measured offers a free Instagram Analytics Reporting tool. You’ll need to provide an email address, but it’s a quick and easy way to get some useful data. These reports can be exported as Excel files or PDFs.
Blogging Analytics: Which Metrics Should You Be Monitoring?
Lastly, let’s discuss blogging analytics. This may seem like an odd fit in a post about social media analytics. It's also a much deeper topic than we can cover completely here. However, if you run an active blog, it’s important to monitor how your blog content is performing on social media. These are some of the things you'll want to be monitoring:
- Traffic: You want readers, right? The more, the better.
- Visitor Demographics: This tells you if the people visiting your blog actually fit the audience you’re trying to target.
- Page Views Per Session: If people visit multiple pages per visit to your blog, then you know you’ve hooked their interest.
- Bounce Rate: If people don’t find your content compelling, they’ll leave. A high bounce rate could mean your content doesn’t match reader expectations, or is otherwise poor quality.
- Conversion Rate: If your blog posts use lead generation forms to gather email sign ups, this metric tells you how well your calls-to-action are performing. It also tells you whether the value proposition for signing up seems worthwhile to readers.
- Social Shares: This is the key to “going viral” (something you’ve probably heard your boss harping about).
Where To Find This Data:
If you’re using WordPress (or another blogging platform), it’s likely your blog CMS includes an analytics section somewhere. Google Analytics is also essential here. If you’re looking for a Google Analytics alternative, Piwik is another similar option to look at.
Pulling It All Together: Consider Using Cyfe
Cyfe is a data aggregating web app that brings together data from tons of other sources and services. It accomplishes this by enabling users to create custom data dashboards using widgets.
This is extremely useful for doing social media analytics work, allowing you to create dashboards for most major social networks and view your data in one place.
A free account allows for five widgets, which may provide enough basic functionality to be useful. Stepping up to a paid account at $19 a month unlocks unlimited dashboards and user accounts.
Follow Cyfe’s guide to building a custom social media dashboard to get started.
Another Alternative: View Sharing Stats In CoSchedule
If you’re a CoSchedule customer, you have one more option for finding social sharing data. Every blog post within the calendar interface features integrated social sharing stats:
You’ll notice Twitter sharing stats are missing due to restrictions with that platform’s API. However, this is otherwise one more useful option to quickly get a bit more insight into your social media performance.
How To Turn Social Media Analytical Data Into Actionable Insights
You now know where to find data from your social media channels. That means it’s time to figure out how to make use of that data. We’ll do that by building a social media analytics report.
For our purposes, we’ll focus on our five main social media goals. These are:
- Follower Growth
- Reach / Impressions
These aren’t the only goals you could conceivably aim toward. However, they’re the ones we feel the majority of content marketers and social media managers may value most.
We also know you’re likely hard-pressed for time. That’s why we’ve built the included Social Media Marketing Performance report template to be simple to use for quick analysis. It looks something like this:
This template is designed to allow you to track your data all year. Bringing all your metrics into one place makes it easier to view progress over time. The Excel sheet includes some fields pre-filled, but is intended to be easily editable to suit your own selected metrics and purposes.
Select Specific Metrics For Each Channel
For each channel, select metrics that best support your business goals.
Then, set a baseline for performance for each metric on each channel.
Your baselines are expected standards for performance. If you fall below your baselines consistently, you know you’re underperforming. Likewise, if you consistently beat your expectations, you’re on the right track (and may need to readjust).
Set baselines for every metric following these two steps:
1. Find your average performance for a given metric for the past 90 days. If you're not a mathematician, use the calculation here.
2. Set goals within a reasonable range upward from there.
Find The Why Behind Your Data With Social Media Content Analysis
The next step is understand the why behind your social media content performance. This requires some subjective analysis of your posts.
1. Look for spikes and valleys in your data.
2. Identify which content was published on or around the days and months where activity rises and falls.
3. Perform a quick content analysis. Look at the content you posted on days where performance spiked (or dipped).
Then, find your top three performing posts overall (on a single network) and analyze the following points:
[ ] How long is this post?
[ ] Does this post pose an open-ended question?
[ ] Does this post pose a close-ended question?
[ ] What day and time was this post published?
[ ] What kind of emotion does this post aim to elicit?
[ ] Is this a design image or a photograph?
[ ] Is this a single image or an image gallery?
[ ] Is this image consistent with the company brand and style standards?
[ ] Is this image an optimal size for its given social network?
[ ] Does this image feature text?
[ ] Is the content linked to high-quality?
[ ] Are the copy and image relevant to this link?
[ ] Do links use URL shorteners for data tracking?
[ ] Are link descriptions (if applicable) accurate?
[ ] Does the on-page content on the linked page clearly connect to this post?
Use these insights to guide future content creation. If something works well, do it more often. If something negatively impacts performance, stop doing it. It's as simple as that.
Over time, you'll get better at understanding which factors influence which behaviors in your specific situation.
If you’d like to keep your social media content and analytics in one place for easy analysis, use the Social Media Content Analysis template included in this post download. It looks like this:
This template makes it simple to create and store your content assets (copy, images, URLs, etc.) in one document. Then, store your post performance data in the Measurement section.
It’s designed to be edited easily, so feel free to add or delete rows, columns, or sections to suit your needs.
Use Your Data To Create Better Content
Data is most useful when it helps you create better content your audience loves. However, how do you actually execute better content marketing?
Start by applying the data you’ve gathered to refine the topics and tactics that perform best. These posts on our blog will help you sharpen your skills too:
- The 6 Types Of Social Media Content That Will Give You The Greatest Value
- How to Get Insanely Loyal Followers On Social Media
- How To Develop A Winning Social Media Content Strategy
- How To Build A Social Media Editorial Calendar The Easy Way
- This Is The Social Media Posting Schedule That Will Boost Your Traffic By 192%
Don't Forget About Social Media Analytics In CoSchedule
Each individual social network offers useful analytics functionality. However, CoSchedule will soon let you bring more of that data together, all in one place. With our new Social Analytics capabilities, you'll be able to see what is (and isn't) working, prove ROI, and understand the impact of your efforts across all your networks.
Do You Feel Like A Social Media Analytics Maestro?
There you have it! You now have a basic social media analytics framework to help you find the data you need fast. In addition, you’re able to store, analyze, and present useful insights from that data to impress your boss and create better social media content.
Hopefully, this will help you do more efficient and effective analysis and reporting. We wish you the best of luck in your efforts.
Drop your questions below!
This post was originally published on Aug. 8, 2016. It was republished with new information on Oct. 24, 2016.