It wasn’t too long ago that social media analytics were very basic. Before the big networks felt the pressure to commercialise their product, information was short on the ground.
But when they wanted marketers to start advertising on their networks, the quality of analytics needed to improve. Today, they are (on the whole) pretty comprehensive – too much so in some cases.
So what are the top-line numbers that you should be following to give you an idea of how your social media is performing?
Audience: A lot of marketers will tell you that the number of likes or follows that you have is a vanity number…. and to a degree they are right. It is the first number that your CEO will ask you but don’t let that put you off! Steady audience growth is an indication that your content is engaging with your audience and so is a useful number to track.
Reach: Reach is the reason why a lot of marketers don’t like to track audience. You may have 1,000 Facebook likes to your page, but your posts are not going to reach 1,000 people (unless it is supported financially). So what number will you reach? This gives you an indication of how interested people are in your content: the more people who like / comment / share / watch your content, the more likely that Facebook will show your posts to them. It could be argues that reach is your true audience number.
Engagement: This is the big one. Putting out content that no-one engages with is a waste of time, so you should be tracking your engagement. Are people interacting with your content? If so, you can build on this relationship and inform and entertain the audience in the future. Benchmarking engagement rates is difficult, so start tracking on a month on month basis to see if your number is going in the right direction.
Post frequency: This can have a fundamental impact on the three measures above, so it should be tracked. Are people calling out for more of your content or are they becoming overwhelmed with it? Where is the sweet spot for the number of Instagram posts per day? Track post frequency against engagement and the answer will be in front of you.
Whatever your objective is: OK, so this one is a bit of a cop-out. But if you are active on social media, you will have some content which is business as usual and you will have some specific campaign content too. That campaign content deserves its own measurement against whatever its objective was: was it clicks to the website (check web analytics referrals and on-page engagement) or video views (number of views, average watch time)? If you have a clear objective, you should be able to measure your success on social media.