Social media is, at its heart, an ongoing conversation with your customers. And to help them better understand their audience’s behavior, savvy marketers have turned to social media analytics. Ultimately, social media analytics are your guide to creating a successful social media strategy. Without monitoring analytics, you’re essentially playing a guessing game when it comes to what content is working and what is not. But before discussing what tools you should be using for social data, let’s discuss the most important social metrics you should be monitoring on a weekly basis.
Three social media metrics that matter:
- Impressions: Impressions represent a social media platform’s best guess at the number of unique individuals who saw your content. Impressions are easy to calculate and monitor, but come with varying degrees of accuracy. For example, impressions on YouTube represent the number of times someone has clicked play on that video in YouTube, and are relatively accurate. Twitter will show the number of impressions one of your tweets received simply by clicking “View tweet activity” on the tweet, while Facebook and LinkedIn provide impression statistics in similar fashion next to each post. However, if you think of how quickly you scroll through your own feed, you’ll understand that these impressions do not necessarily indicate that someone has actually seen your content. Which brings us to….
- Engagement: Engagement measures how your audience interacts with your content, and tracks interactions like shares, comments, likes, and retweets. Different interactions may have varying degrees of importance to your business. For example, a share on Facebook may be more important than a like on LinkedIn, depending on your marketing goals. And thousands of retweets by people outside of your target audience won’t necessarily help you sell anything. Which brings us to the most important metric of all.
- Conversions: Social media conversions occur when someone takes action to qualify themselves, either through a sale or by indicating interest in a potential purchase. The action that specifically constitutes a conversion will differ across social media marketing campaigns, but a few examples are sharing content, filling out a form, clicking through to your website, signing up for a coupon, or making a purchase. Ultimately, conversions are your most important metric, but many marketers are surprised to learn that social conversions can be difficult to come by. This is one of the reasons why social media analytics have become so important.
Conversions are the only social media metric that matters. Everything else is window-dressing.
Now that you know what social media metrics matter, let’s talk about what tools you should be using to monitor these metrics. Below, we’ve narrowed down what we believe to be the top social media measurement tools of 2016.
2016’s Top Social Media Analytics Tools:
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is one of the best tools to measure the effectiveness of your social activity. And even better, it’s free! The acquisition overview report on Google Analytics shows how many people clicking through to your website have come from social traffic. Digging more deeply into the Behavior tab lets you see what content on your site is most popular, while looking at referral traffic will show you where your content is being shared. To help keep your social momentum up, it’s a good idea to have social plugin buttons on your pages (such as the Facebook “Share” button) to help your visitors share your content.
Hootsuite is another widely successful social media management platform, and for good reason. Hootsuite tracks engagement and conversions from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, but takes things a step further by adding demographic detail and “sentiment” to the conversation. If you need to know who’s talking about your company on social media in the moment and whether or not their satisfied or upset, Hootsuite is a great tool
Klout approaches social media from a slightly different perspective, having developed its own social media metric (Klout, of course) that attempts to quantify your brand’s influence on the social media platforms you use. This influence score is graded out of 100 based on other users’ engagement with your content, and serves as a good proxy to measure how effective of a thought leader your business is becoming.