Social Media Analytics – Auditing and Measuring Performance
Oct 1, 2021
Originally published in
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Part 1 of this series - Social Media Strategy 101 - covered social media basics, platforms, and best practices to grow engagement and success. Now, we’ll dive into the fun stuff: social media analytics.
One of the most validating (and nerve-wracking) parts of marketing is going back to the data, measuring performance, and immediately seeing whether your approach achieved desired goals.
The numbers never lie, but instead, reveal where your efforts succeeded or fell short, giving you the insights necessary to pivot your marketing strategy.
This is particularly true in social media marketing, where you can test new tactics, themes, copy, images, and other variables very quickly and at low investment, and learn from their success to apply to your overall marketing strategy.
Today, we’re sharing the social media metrics to prioritize and steps to perform an accounts audit – something you’ll want to do at least once yearly to ensure your social media channels are hitting performance goals.
First, you need to determine where to access analytics – what is the source of truth?
Each platform offers its own native metrics, but their algorithms are all different, making it challenging to accurately measure cross-platform results for a single campaign.
Google Analytics offers some insights, based on traffic deriving from social and landing on your website, or you can invest in a social scheduling platform.
Choosing a social scheduling platform with equal parts ease-of-use and robust metrics is a challenge. Options like HubSpot, SkedSocial, Buffer, etc. offer similar reporting, but each has its own benefits depending on the size of your team, social volume, and goals. We use HubSpot and value that we can pull in our other marketing channels and reporting.
Where you measure your analytics – whether a single tool or a combination of native insights from different sources – is less important than being consistent. Set a benchmark and continuously review the same metrics from the same sources over time to confidently measure performance growth.
Social Media Analytics – What to Measure
Remember, social media marketing is a top-of-the-funnel initiative and drives the storytelling aspect of your brand. The most important metrics to pay attention to are not always follows and likes, contrary to what you may think.
Your metrics focus depends on your social media goals. For example, if your goal is to increase conversion rate, you might monitor the website traffic, sales, or downloads originating from paid and organic social.
Post Impressions are one of our favorite metrics to measure, as this number is essentially the number of eyeballs that lands on your content. The higher the impression count, the better.
Impressions fluctuate due to several reasons: platform algorithm, post content, time of day, and more. They may not convert now, but that eye-catching piece of content you posted will stay with the user and could prove fruitful down the line.
Some of the most important social media metrics to measure, based on goals:
Impressions: the number of times a post is displayed. Impressions help marketers gage how well the content they’re pushing out is performing against the algorithms.
Reach: the total number of people who saw your post. Reach is an excellent way to measure if your follower base is sharing your content with their friends.
Share of voice: how visible your brand’s social presence is against your competitors within your market.
Likes: a vanity metric capturing how many times your content was ‘liked’ by users. Likes offer a surface understanding of how your content resonates with your audience.
Comments: the number of comments on your posts. Comments measure how well your content is received by your audience and boost overall engagement, especially when you comment back. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and encourage comments in your captions.
Shares: the number of times your posts are shared. Measure Shares to determine the value of your social content.
Clicks: how many times a post link was clicked. An uptick of clicks indicates that followers are interested in your content and willing to move from the social channel to your website – a huge win!
ROI: return on investment. Social ROI measures the value you’re receiving (which may be revenue, leads, engagement, audience insights, etc.) divided by your investment (which may be monetary or resource/time-based). ROI is an important metric to measure and completely tied to your social goals, so make sure you define these early-on.
Referrals: the users that land on your website via your social channels. Every marketer should strive to grow this metric. Identify your goals and measure them using your preferred analytic tool to drive success.
How To Perform an Accounts Audit
It’s easy for social media marketing to shift into the wild west (raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by an algorithm update). That’s why it’s critical to identify your goals and the metrics to measure their success; we can’t stress this enough.
What’s next? An audit focused on strategic social media optimization. A full and complete, comprehensive social media audit.
Audits don’t have to be daunting, but they are necessary to stay on track.
Historical data is key to seeing what you did before, what worked, what didn’t and how to pivot strategy. Whether you use Google Analytics, a social scheduling tool, or native insights, you’ll find all the juicy data within your reporting tool of choice.
Step 1: Review metrics covering traffic (sessions), users, bounce rate, etc. We typically compare year-over-year to measure growth.
Step 2: Pull either native platform reporting (from each social platform) or your social scheduling reporting (like HubSpot or HootSuite,) – depending on choice and which is more robust.
Step 3: Review the metrics you’d identified to measure your goals. Make note of peaks or valleys in the metrics and what tactics you employed at the time.
Step 4: Identify new goals, optimizations, and KPIs to measure performance.
We’ve found that a healthy mix of native insights and HubSpot reporting works best for our decision-making process. Again, focus on the above performance metrics with your goals clear in mind to make it easy to report on your findings and make informed decisions.
Once you have all your YoY data (we recommend two computer screens if you have them), pull it into an easy-to-read format. If you’re an Excel lover, go for it. MS Word more your jam? Cool. Good ol’ Powerpoint calling your name? We aren’t mad at it. Whatever makes it easiest for you to review and strategize.
Try to find commonalities in the data – did you use a particular creative format, product category, or copy style? Build what worked into your goal plan and determine how to optimize, or improve, what didn’t work.
As the data begins to tell a story, you’ll map out your next phase of goals – whether it’s for the remainder of the year, the next month or quarter.
Robust Reporting Returns Social Success
A veteran social media marketer will tell you how incredibly important it is to look at the big picture when reviewing reporting, as it’s so easy to fall down a rabbit hole.
Remember, social media is ever-changing and equally challenging to manage and keep up with. Build a plan around smart goals and solid KPIs, and consistently review and modify your approach to increase success.