Tracking social media has become extremely useful, especially for those who want to build brand reputation and ROI from their social media marketing initiative. Social channels directly link to traffic, following, and engagement, so measuring them can help your business in many ways. Social media is an important part of the equation that brings traffic and fan following, resulting in the growth of brands. From the largest brands to the smallest startups, social media has been used and continues to be used strategically for a variety of purposes. Though I haven’t found a great social media analytics tool yet, brands and startups that do social media marketing have a clear need and desire to measure their ROI meticulously. A social media infographic that surfaced about a year ago reveals what marketers look for in social media analytics:
- 72% measure the quantity of visitors and sources of traffic
- 63% measure the size of the network (this means the subscribers, followers, etc.)
- 56% measure the quantity of commentary and opinions that a social campaign generates
- 50% measure the sentiment of the commentary
- All that data comes from people who measure social media metrics. Clearly, they regard social media analytics as important. But why?
- I’ll try to answer that and explain ways in which social media analytics can be simplified so it’s highly
Social Media Analytics: Then and Now
- About a year ago, social media was used for marketing and ad campaigns, but it wasn’t very easy to determine ROI. One reason was that social campaigns were unlike traditional online campaigns, such as banner ads or squeeze page promotions.
- In the latter, you would track every click, total the conversions, and calculate the ROI; but with the former, this isn’t possible. A user might look at your social ad/ campaign and not click at all — but make a purchase directly some weeks later. Your social campaign might get shared and retweeted but it may not convert it into something tangible.
- Furthermore, there was no way to measure these metrics to figure out whether your social media marketing was doing any good. This was one of the reasons Holden Motors pulled its Facebook campaign before plunging back into conventional fan pages and traditional media engagement.
Measuring Social Media: What, Why and How
If it’s a link, you measure the clicks. If it’s an ad, you measure the impressions. If it’s a video, you measure the views. If it’s a blog post, you measure comments and traffic. But if it’s social media, what do you measure? Likes, shares, favorites, retweets, comments, replies, mentions, subscriptions, Diggs, upvotes… perhaps the length and variety of this list stumps the average marketer or business owner who’s trying to figure out ROI from their social media marketing efforts. Let’s go back to the infographic again:
- 72% measure the quantity of visitors and sources
- 63% measure the size of the network (subscribers,
- 56% measure the quantity of commentary and
opinions a social campaign generates
- 50% measure the sentiment of commentary
Traffic numbers, growth of followers, quantity of interaction, quality of interaction — let’s assume these are the four basic things to track (although there are many more, like demography, gender, age group, time of day, etc.). In order to get the best out of every social campaign, you need to know what to measure. To determine this, you need to understand the purpose of running the
social media marketing campaign. As is the case, the end goals dictate the measurement metric.
- If you’re looking to generate traffic, your metric should be: unique visitors from social websites where you’ve run your social media campaigns.
- If you’re looking to create a following, your metric should be: subscribers, followers on your social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
- If you’re looking to generate interaction, your metric should be: quantity and type of commenter (Facebook comments, Twitter replies/mentions).
- If you’re looking to generate revenue (which is the ultimate purpose), your metric should be the precise dollar value of every lead a social post generates. Some brands need to measure more metrics. A brand like Dove would want to measure the number of women that have clicked through a socially shared link. A brand like Apple might want to measure the peak time of shares and the traffic it generates, say, during a product launch. It all boils down to intention: the ultimate goal you want to achieve corresponds to the metric to be measured. It should be evident that likes, retweets, and shares don’t occupy an important metric goal because they are not of direct consequence here. For a small business, measuring the number of likes, shares, or retweets is pointless if none of it generates traffic/following/interaction/revenue or any other goal you have set for your social campaigns. Furthermore, social is not just Facebook and Twitter; intensely passionate social media marketers know that an enormous source of traffic lies beyond these important social hubs. These include Digg, Reddit StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Delicious, and more.
Every effort you put in, especially toward marketing, should be planned and calculated. Let’s say you take up guest blogging as a strategy to drive traffic to your website. As you go along with your guest blogging strategy, how do you identify the publishers that drive good traffic? How do you focus only on the ones that are effective. All of that comes from analytics: you set up tools like
Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to figure out which ones are really good traffic sources and realign your marketing efforts to focus on those websites. It’s the same with social media marketing, too. At a time when social media marketing has become enormously important, it’s even more critical to measure the performance of every social media campaign you run.
This is the big question: how do you measure ROI of social media campaigns? Tracking social metrics was hard in the past, but with some really amazing tools these days, it has become easy while retaining sophistication, with a ton of features. Here are some useful tools to guide you on your journey:
• Google Analytics
Perhaps the best way to get an overarching idea of how well or poorly each network is performing is by using some basic features of this platform. Google Analytics is free to use, and is the choice of many marketers because of its extensive features. Clicking Traffic Sources > Social > Overview will provide a rundown of all social networks that are bringing traffic to your site. This includes the number of visits via social referral in comparison to total visits, the number of visits from each network and the percentage of traffic from each network. Reviewing this data will give you a rough idea of how well each social media network is performing in relation to other networks.For instance, Facebook might be bringing in 40 percent of traffic, Twitter is bringing in 20 percent, Google+ is bringing in 10 percent and all others are combining for 30 percent. Clicking “Network Referrals” will provide a bit more information, like total pageviews, and average visit duration of pages per visit. Clicking “Visitors Flow” is another feature that shows which pages on your website visitors are landing on and from which social networks. Understanding this data is important because it’s a clear indicator of which networks are working, which need some attention, and which ones may be worth scrapping altogether.
One of the main indicators of how big your presence is throughout the social media realm is how many mentions your business gets across social media networks. This buzz is also known as social signals, which are a rising factor in search engine algorithms. Hootsuite is an effective way to track those mentions and streamline your social media campaign. It’s also one of the most popular platforms, and currently has over 600 million users. There are several other statistics that can be monitored, such as how many people have added your business to their circles on Google+, how many followers you have across major social networks, recent user activity, and daily growth. When it comes to Facebook, you can determine who your fan base is by analyzing their demographic according to region, language and posting source. Hootsuite also makes it easy to absorb data by offering over 30 different modules with a variety of charts and graphs. Since it’s available on mobile devices, this can be a great platform for keeping up with data while you’re on the go.
This has become the go-to social media management platform for many businesses. SproutSocial offers a plethora of features that cover pretty much every aspect of the social media process along with highpowered analytics. From the dashboard, you can keep track of:
- The number of incoming messages and sent messages
- The number of new followers across the different social media networks
- How many brand mentions you have received and the number of unique users
- The number of impressions your messages have received
In terms of published content, you can easily determine how many clicks and responses each message received, as well as the number of people each message reached. This is helpful because it’s possible to identify which types of content are creating the most buzz, so you can rinse and repeat later. It’s also possible to determine how well your brand is faring against other competitors. This is done by creating social scores based on engagement and influence, and measuring them against the competition. By producing presentation-ready reports, it’s easy to track the long term progress of a campaign across various social networks.
• Simplify 360
If you’re looking for comprehensive data to spot trends, brand reputation and where your company stands against competitors, this is a platform worth considering. According to Simplify 360, they “provide you with a much needed tool to listen to what your customers are saying about your brand on social media and a means to act on it. Be it Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, news sites or online forums, you will never miss out on any conversations that are relevant to your brand.” When it comes to features, this software provides the basics like information regarding your demographics, the volume of traffic from various social media sites, and competitor tracking. There are also numerous other sophisticated features such as:
- The Alexa rank of blogs that are sharing your content
- Industry trend monitoring
- Audience intelligence
- Real-time performance tracking of posted content
- Ability to compare the performance of different social media accounts
Like Sprout Social, Simplify 360 produces engagement and influence scores in order to tell how your brand stacks up against competitors. It also has a detailed analytics system with numerous reporting options.
This is another platform designed to measure performance that has caught the attention of notable media companies like Tech Crunch, BBC, and Mashable. Their slogan is “social media monitoring and analysis made easy,” and their concept revolves around searching for hashtags or search terms. The data can then be exported to a spreadsheet, charts, or graphs for convenient viewing. RowFeeder is a bit simpler than the previously mentioned platforms, and can only be integrated with Facebook and Twitter. Nonetheless, it’s helpful for tracking your campaign in detail and seeing how your brand is performing against the competition. Businesses primarily use RowFeeder for:
- Brand Monitoring – tracking what your audience is saying about your brand, products, and competitors
- Campaign Measurement – analyzing factors like reach, participation, and engagement
- Contests & Promotions – tracking Twitter contests that use hashtags
- Market Research – monitoring the conversation for a specific topic, market or multiple topics
- Social Share Buttons
Finally, a simple way to determine how much your content is getting shared on various social media sites is by installing social share buttons. For WordPress based websites, there are many plugins available, which only take a few seconds to install. Once set up, you can see how many times a piece of content has been shared on different networks. More social shares translates to more exposure, and can be a litmus test for determining what sort of content or topics are popular among your audience. Social media campaigns are much more powerful than the usual ads run on websites. For starters, most campaigns are cost-effective, when the only costs involved are the human resource and time. Social campaigns are often more personal, because they occur on a platform that’s trusted. And with metrics in hand, social campaigns can be enormously fruitful.