So you’ve launched your social marketing campaign and you’re watching the likes, shares, follows, and mentions roll in. Hurray! But wait. Your work isn’t quite over yet. In fact, this last phase is one of the most important: Measuring your success.
Analyzing and quantifying the results of your marketing efforts, assessing whether you achieved your goals, and figuring out what did and didn’t work is the only way you can improve your campaigns going forward. Here’s a look at the metrics you can use to evaluate your social marketing so you can optimize your practices and get the most out of this powerful business tool.
Evaluation is something you should be thinking about even before you create your marketing campaign. Back when you were devising your strategy and coming up with your goals, you should begin to map out exactly how you’ll measure your success in reaching those goals.
For example, if you’re a relatively new business and your goal is to increase awareness of your brand, you’ll be measuring followers, reach, and impressions. If you already have a pretty robust following and want more customer engagement, you’ll want to keep track of shares, mentions, comments, and likes. And if conversions are your goal, measure how many people bought your product or downloaded your content based on your social efforts.
PicMonkey’s take: Our overall goal is to ensure our message is reaching and resonating with our audience, so we focus on impressions, engagements, and, on some platforms, traffic.
Here’s a quick list of the top key performance indicators (KPIs) that businesses track:
You’ll be using various tools to measure your success, so it’s a good idea to list out all your methods on a spreadsheet and add in your results as they come in. For example, many of your awareness and engagement metrics will come from the social platforms themselves. To track the number of people coming to your website through social, you’ll use Google Analytics. If you decide to use a scheduling tool like Buffer, you can use their measurement tools as well.
Your measurement plan is going to be unique to you and your goals. The tools you choose to use and the metrics you want to focus on will vary widely. That said, here’s a rundown of some of our go-to stats and how we gather them.
As the king of social media, Facebook doesn’t disappoint when it comes to data. As its name implies, this tool is full of great insights about the performance of your posts, including:
Summary of your likes, views, actions, engagements, and messages over a seven-day period
The performance of your five most recent posts
Comparisons with similar pages
Your top posts ranked by engagement
Where your page likes are coming from (your page, ads, suggestions that Facebook serves)
Reach, reactions, comments, shares, hides, unlikes, and more of your posts
How many people have viewed your page and their demographics
Actions on your page
How well your different types of posts are doing (photos, videos, articles)
And that’s only the beginning of what Facebook Insights can provide.
While Instagram is owned by Facebook, it doesn’t have quite the depth of data as its parent company, but that’s understandable considering it’s an entirely different type of platform. Here’s some of the information you can glean from Instagram’s free tool:
Your overall impressions (when your post shows up in someone’s feed) and reach, profile views, website clicks, and email clicks
Top posts and their impressions, reach, engagement, likes, comments, views over a specified period of time
Performance of your Stories, including impressions, reach, exits, and replies
Number of followers and their demographics
Twitter provides a goldmine of information on both your tweet activity and your audience, such as:
The number of impressions your tweets got
Your engagement rate, which is the number of engagements you got divided by impressions, so you know how many of the people who actually saw your tweet reacted in some way
The number of link clicks, retweets, likes, and replies you earned, as well as trend data over time
Your top tweets, top mentions, top follower, and more
The interests and gender of your followers
If you want to export your data so you can put it into a spreadsheet, there’s a handy “Export data” button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. The Buffer blog has some great information about how to dig deep into Twitter’s metrics and discover things such as the best time of day for you to tweet according to your audience and which of your hashtags perform best.
Pinterest’s tool is easy to use and intuitive, providing information about the performance of your pins, your audience, and activity from your website. Here’s a look at some of the things you’ll find out:
Your most repinned items and your boards with the most repins
Most clicked-on pins and boards with the most-clicked pins
Number of repins, impressions, clicks, likes, and pins
Your pins with the highest search rank
Demographics and interests of your audience, including other brands they are following
The views and saves pins from your website get
Visits back to your website from Pinterest
Pins created directly from your website
The “All apps” button allows you to search according to how users are accessing Pinterest (e.g., iPhone, Android phone, web, etc.). The “Export data” button allows you to export all of this information into a spreadsheet for further analysis.
As YouTube solidifies its position as the second-largest player in the social field and video continues to rise in popularity, understanding your performance on this channel has become all the more critical. Also keep in mind that creating videos for your marketing efforts is more time-consuming and costly, so ensuring a good return on investment is a good idea.
Here are some of the items to look for in the YouTube Analytics tool:
Overview of watch time, average view duration, top 10 videos, and more
Best and worst performing video
Where your viewers are located throughout the world, how old they are
Average view duration, watch time, subscriber views
What platforms your videos are viewed on
Number of subscribers gained and lost
How many of your videos were added or removed from a playlist
How many comments, shares, likes and dislikes for your videos
Snapchat’s data tool might not be as comprehensive as some of the others out there, but it still provides a lot of useful information, such as:
Unique views, which tells you how many people have seen your photos and videos
Number of screenshots, showing the level of engagement of your viewers
Completion rate tells you how many viewers watched your story all the way through
Fall-off rates tells you how many viewers stopped watching your story before it’s over
Hootsuite offers some good advice on how to figure out the best times for posting and the effectiveness of geofilters. They also recommend a few third-party tools that help fill out the data where Snapchat Analytics falls short.
The main use of Google Analytics for your social marketing efforts is to track your website traffic from the various channels. Here are a few of the many data points you can access:
Website traffic by social channel
Percentage of your traffic coming from social
The number of shares for each link and page on your website for each channel
Number of conversions and their path to conversion
If you want to be able to track what specific campaign drove visitors to your site, you should put a UTM code at the end of the URL that people are clicking on. You can use Google’s URL builder to do this.
At this point, you’re probably swimming in data. It’s a good idea to take it all in, but if you really want to use these metrics to improve your social marketing efforts, you’ll need to whittle them down and put them in an easy-to-digest report.
PicMonkey Take: We like to create a monthly report that focuses on two to four of our most important KPIs (key performance indicators) for each channel. That way, we can look at the averages for each month and see the change over time. The KPIs that we focus on in this report are impressions, engagements, views, and users. We also create more detailed reports for each channel if we want to really drill down into the specific metrics for a particular post or track a campaign.
Your reports are going to look different from everyone else’s because you’ll be watching different KPIs and different channels. That said, you can find lots of advice on how to set up a spreadsheet or find a downloadable template.
The whole point of collecting all of this data is to use it to refine and adjust your overall strategy. That means your social marketing efforts will constantly change according to what you learn over time. The problem for business owners and marketers is that there’s no magic bullet or single solution to optimizing your strategy.
You might have read articles about how Instagram Stories is taking over the web or that Pinterest is the best platform to convert viewers to customers. But are these platforms right for you? Hopefully, the data you collect over time will give you an answer. If you put time and effort into several Instagram Stories or a couple of months’ worth of pins and you don’t see any active engagement, you’ll need to rethink whether these channels are right for you. If you see instead that Twitter and Facebook are your tried and true deliverers of views, followers, and conversions, you might decide to focus your efforts on these social channels.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve put a lot of your resources in creating videos for your YouTube channel and you’re not seeing much movement. Rather than abandoning the channel, you might be compelled to dig deeper and try to figure out how you can improve your YouTube presence. For example, maybe your thumbnails are lackluster and need a refresh. Or maybe your videos are too long and need to be edited down. Or perhaps a nice infusion of cash for some paid ads would do the trick.
As much as we try to see social marketing as a science—a code we can crack with the right data and the right tools—the reality is that it’s also an art. To be successful online, you’ve got to trust your gut, take risks, and always be creative. Bottom line: watch the stats, but also embrace the uncertainty. And have some fun!