Are you making the most of social media analytics?

Sue Keogh, founder of Cambridge-based digital content specialists Sookio, recently spoke to our Marketing Peer Learning Group about the importance of social media analytics. She shares her tips on the metrics to watch and the tools to use.

If you spend any time or money on social media, it is vitally important to measure your progress. A lot of businesses don’t! There is a world of data out there, and plenty of simple tools which you can use to track the metrics which are most relevant to you.

Why should you get to grips with social media analytics?
Regularly assessing the stats will benefit you in several ways.
You will be able to:

• Make informed decisions about where you place resources. Do more of what works. Do less of what doesn’t!
• Spot trends and predict customer behaviour
• Understand your return on investment

To give you a couple of real-life examples, picture the insurance company who were keen to set up a Facebook page because they kept on seeing posts from a competitor in their personal feeds. Six months in, an analysis of the data showed that they were getting lots of engagement on their LinkedIn posts but nothing on Facebook. So they decided to reallocate their time, writing thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn Pulse, commenting on discussions in relevant groups and posting frequently from their company page.

A fabric retailer we know grew a steady following on Instagram and Facebook, and, after looking at the data they realised that there was a lot of activity out of working hours as people planned their next craft project. So they started to schedule posts for the evenings and at weekends to tell people about offers and events coming up, and got a very positive response. It was measurable too, because they issued special codes for each platform which people needed to use when they came into the shop.

Which metrics are important?
Let’s take a look at the questions you should be asking, the data you will measure and the terms you will come across.

1. Are you reaching the right people?
You need to measure:
• Reach: the size of the audience you are communicating with
• Impressions: how many people saw your post

2. Are they engaging with your content?
You need to measure:
• Engagement: the total number of likes, shares, and comments on a post
• The number of views, downloads and plays

3. What are their next steps?
You need to measure:
• Conversions: the number of people who achieved a desired result, which could be making a purchase, signing up for a demo or webinar, completing a form, joining a mailing list.
• Leads: anyone who could potentially pursue your product or service
• Funnels: the route your visitors are taking on the golden path to converting. Have they followed a link to your website from Facebook? Did they use a discount code you shared on Twitter?

What free tools are out there?
All social media platforms have inbuilt tools for free. They vary in their levels of usefulness and the extent of the information they offer, but they are an excellent place to start when looking at the data.

Facebook Insights will give you information on reach, engagement and likes, as well as demographic information about people visiting your page and when they are most active.

If you pay to boost posts or create adverts, it will give you even more of that lovely, lovely data. It’s in their interests to show you which posts are the most successful because it will entice you to spend even more cash.

Twitter Analytics can be set up very easily, just by going to Twitter Ads and starting the process of setting up advertising for your account. You don’t need to actually place any ads, just start the process and it will start tracking your data.

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I really like the way it presents the information too, it’s very accessible. You have Twitter Highlights, which is a month-by-month snapshot of your most popular tweets and followers with the most influence, or you can drill down a bit more and look at which tweets got the most impressions and engagements.
If you do go ahead and place ads on Twitter there is a wealth of information on offer there too.

Google+ analytics are tied to your Google My Business account. You get all the basics about the visibility of your posts, how many clicks you are receiving, along with useful information how many calls you get via your page.

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YouTube, owned by Google, offers a much more user-friendly and in-depth range of data for you to play with. Find out how many views you’re getting, how many comments and shares and which are your most popular videos.

You might find one of your videos is suddenly getting a lot of plays – so why not share it again on your social channels even more.

Or you could find that most people stop watching after a few minutes, in which case if you’re putting out videos that are 30 minutes long you could experiment with chopping them up and offering a series of 5-minute videos instead.

LinkedIn analytics get a ‘could do better’ report from us! They don’t offer that much in the way of insights and it can be a bit frustrating that you can’t set it to show you a day, week or month at a time.

This is probably to entice you upgrade to a premium version of LinkedIn – a bit like Spotify playing you terrible ads until you cave in and buy a subscription (which I stubbornly refuse to do).

Pinterest analytics offer plenty of useful data to get stuck into. If you’re more of an Instagram fan for the visual side of your social media output, we prefer Iconosquare when looking at the metrics. So much more to see.

Don’t forget Google Analytics!
And while we’re talking about free tools, we mustn’t forget Google Analytics. It’s easy to add to your site, just add a line of code and you’re good to go.

Once you’re in, you’ll see a dashboard with all your statistics – page views, new users, average time spent on each page, average numbers of pages viewed. You can also change the date range quite easily and look at the data over the course of a day, week, month or more.
Even though it might look a bit daunting when you first look at it, it’s quite easy to dive in and familiarise yourself with the interface, once you know what figures will be most useful to you.

For the purposes we’re talking about here, you’ll want to look at Acquisition. Are people coming to your site from your social media channels – in which case, which ones – email marketing, organic search or your Google AdWords campaigns?

Once you get handy with it you can track their journey through the site. Try setting up individual landing pages that you can link to from social media and see if you can steer people to sign up to a mailing list, subscribe or whatever conversion goals you want to set.

Streamlining your reporting
If you look after a lot of channels or have a high-traffic website, you’ll want to find a reporting tool that pulls together all the data so you have it in one place. Otherwise it could be quite a laborious job to look at the figures each month and feed back to your team.
There are lots of options open to you. I don’t have any one to recommend; we are always reassessing our measurement tools and trying out new ones in a never-ending search to find the right one!

We’re currently settled on Raven, having gone through Cyfe and Simply Measured, and at the time of writing are experimenting with Sprout Social and True Social Metrics in the background.

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It’s easy to get taken in by pretty dashboards and persuasive sales talk on the website, so it’s really important to get straight what you actually want from your social media reporting tools. Ask yourself:
• What features and data do you actually need?
Look closely and you’ll find your chosen tool doesn’t cover a platform you use all the time. Or maybe you want something that monitors sentiment about your brand. Maybe you can’t customise the reports with your logo or add extra team members. Get ready to cast a critical eye over what’s on offer!
• How much do you want to pay?
This is a big one. There are lots of tools on offer around the free to $50 a month mark, and then there’s a big leap to enterprise packages.

Personally I like a bit of transparency when it comes to pricing; if I have to give them my email address, sign up to a webinar and get stuck in someone’s ghastly sales funnel before finding how much it costs I’m not interested!

Sue Keogh runs Sookio, a Cambridge digital agency which specialises in content – from copywriting, blogs, infographics, video and social media updates to expert strategy and training. Do connect with Sue on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, or sign up to the Sookio mailing list for a monthly blast of tips and tricks.

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