Social media measurement
If you’re using social media, you should be measuring your performance. But don’t measure just for the sake of having metrics. Instead, measure your social activities so that you can learn what’s successful and what isn’t, as well as how you can improve.
When getting started with social media measurement, you should aim to address these questions:
- How do you know if your social media activities are effective?
- How do you decide what metrics you should be monitoring?
- How do you calculate those metrics?
- How do you interpret the numbers once you have them?
The two main types of social media measurement are:
- Ongoing Analytics – ongoing monitoring that tracks activity over time;
- Campaign-Focused Metrics – campaign or event analytics with a clear beginning and end.
Ongoing analytics are necessary for keeping up with the overall pulse of the performance of your social channels. Here you can see how your channels are growing, where you can improve and any potential trends.
Campaign-focused metrics help you understand the impact of targeted marketing initiatives and will vary from campaign to campaign, depending on their goals.
An effective social media measurement programme will likely include both ongoing and campaign-specific measurement.
Step 1: Determine your social goals
Before you jump into measuring every single tweet, photo and Facebook comment posted about your brand, first think about your goals for social media. What are you trying to accomplish or gain through these social channels? And which channels are most relevant to those goals?
The first step in your measurement plan should be to generate a list of what you’re trying to achieve from your social media efforts. Social media can serve a variety of purposes, from broadcasting news and information to answering questions and engaging with a community.
What do you want your audience to do with your content? Are you trying to get them to read, share, reply or click on a link? List all your business goals for social media (refer back to your strategy).
Step 2: Create metrics to measure these goals
The next step is to match your goals to actual metrics and behaviours you can measure. For example, if you’re trying to measure engagement, then what is the practical form of engagement you want to track? Is it retweets or reposts? Replies or comments? Clicks? Here are a few suggestions of behaviours to measure, based on a common social media goals:
- If you want to measure awareness, then use metrics such as volume, reach, exposure and amplification. How far is your message spreading?
- If you want to measure engagement, then look for metrics around retweets, comments and replies.
- If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then track URL shares, clicks and conversions. Are people moving through social media to your website and what do they do once they’re there?
- If your goal is to find advocates and fans, then track contributors and influence. Who is participating and what kind of impact do they have?
- If your goal is to increase your brand’s share of voice, then track your volume relative to your closest competitors. How much of the overall conversation around your industry or product category is about your brand?
Step 3: Measure
After you’ve listed the metrics you want to focus on, you need to find tools that actually capture these metrics, and then start measuring. In some cases, social media channels themselves provide some form of analytics; for others you will need to use third party tools; or you can build your own using APIs.
If you’re not sure which tools to use for which channels, we recommend starting with the analytics tools already on the platform. However, be aware that some platforms have a certain shelf life for some data. For example, there are platforms that will not be able to analyse data from a year ago today. We recommend storing data on your key metrics so you can successfully compare and contrast your performance.
You should make time to gather data from social media platforms as well as to analyse it. The process can be time consuming depending on your objectives, but if your objectives are clear it is worth measuring the success of your performance.
Step 4: Monitor and report
The fourth step is to report your results. Use your initial findings to set a baseline or benchmark for future measurement and share these early figures with your important stakeholders. Three important questions are:
- How do your numbers compare with what you expected?
- Why are the numbers up or down?
- How do they compare to your competitors’ or related products and campaigns?
A common question we are asked is how regularly you should report on your social media data. It depends on what you are using the data for. If it’s a routine performance review, checking every month is sufficient. For campaigns, it is dependent on when your stakeholders want the data and when you feel it is suitable. Some may want weekly stats, or monthly, while others are happy to see the reporting insights once the campaign has finished.
We recommend suggesting a reporting schedule that works for you as well, especially as collating daily or weekly reports can be time consuming. Depending on your schedule, monthly or quarterly reporting may work best. No matter the schedule, make sure you’re checking in regularly on your metrics. Don’t let your effort up to this point go to waste! Let your metrics accumulate over time; you’ll see how valuable this data will become after a few months have passed and you have older data to compare to your new data.
In your reports:
- Provide an overview section with contextual information so that your stakeholders can quickly understand what all the figures mean.
- Consider including visualisations of your data; graphs can help communicate your results quickly and clearly to your audience.
- Keep your graphs simple and clean.
Step 5: Adjust and repeat
The final step is to carefully review your measurement programme. How are these metrics doing? Are you missing anything? Are any of your data points providing information which isn’t relevant? Figure out what you can improve, make your changes and then measure some more. Check back in with the goals you set initially and make sure your new metrics help you address those goals.
If you’re contributing to or responsible for social media channels, you really need to understand how you’re doing. Is your content having the impact you want? Are you meeting your company’s goals with social media? This is why monitoring and measuring your social media activities is crucial – you need reliable and consistent analytics that help you track your success on channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.