Key social media analytics to track and what they mean

By Jonathan Hassell, on


Mobile enterprises are using social media analytics to monitor, assess and improve performance. As social media becomes increasingly important as a way to connect with customers and prospects, it is vital to have a way to assess the performance of the engagement program overall and to have data that informs decision-making about next steps.

The following are some social media analytics your company should consider measuring and the tools that exist to measure them:

General metrics

Some of the larger campaign and strategy-oriented metrics to analyze over time include the following:

  • Follower count and trend for audience growth purposes
    From a macro perspective, you obviously want to understand whether more and more people are listening to you and being influenced by your social media efforts.
  • Post-performance via engagement
    Which types of posts generate activity for your organization? Which types of posts are duds? Do surveys work better than promotions? Does content fare better than simply posting coupon codes for single items? Study the types of posts you make and the engagement that follows.
  • Engagement via time of day
    Certain posts and even certain brands and companies often do better with afternoon and evening posts than morning activities, so it’s vital to post when you know the most people are listening.
  • Overall follower and audience activity, including updates, comments, reshares and favorites
    This is the type of engagement you track per post, but ideally, you want to see this overall measure of activity increasing in the aggregate as you grow your social media program.

Specific metrics

For day-to-day monitoring, some of the best raw metrics to use to see trends and performance of your social media activities include the following:

  • Conversions
    Your social efforts are ultimately geared toward achieving some objective, whether that is a sale, a membership, an opt-in to a mailing list or some other goal. Tracking conversions refer to tracking how many of your social followers and guests successfully achieve your goal.
  • Leads
    Before a conversion happens, there is typically a funnel — a designed pathway from audience member to converted customer — and leads are the measure of the number of people who enter into the beginning stage or stages of this funnel.
  • Reach
    Your reach is the individual follower or audience count on each of the social platforms on which you are actively engaged. It is the sum total of your social media audience.
  • Engagement
    Engagement refers to how often your post is reshared, favorited, repinned or otherwise acted upon by your audience. It shows whether people are generally responding to your activities versus simply ignoring them.
  • Inbound links
    The number of external sites and media that link directly into your content platform. If people find your content valuable, they’ll share it or otherwise post about it, and this measure shows the number of people who think your content is interesting enough to link to.
  • Visits
    The number of times your audience as a whole came to your web property. This refers even to visitors returning multiple times.
  • Unique visits
    Unique visits indicate the number of individuals coming to your web property. It eliminates duplicate visits by the same person.
  • Impressions
    The number of times a piece of content was shown — this is generally a reference to a promoted post or advertisement.
  • Brand response rate
    The measure refers to how quickly employees from your organization reach out and respond to customers after they leave a comment or request help on a social channel.

Tools to measure social media analytics

Google Analytics provides a widespread overview of your traffic, including social reporting, such as network referrals, landing pages, social clicks and trackbacks, and even conversions to sales or goals off of social media-generated traffic. It is perhaps the most accessible and cost-effective way to measure social media analytics, although there are also tools that allow you to dig deeper into these analytics. Such tools include Buffer, Sumall, Quintly, Crowdbooster, Rival IQ and Moz Pro.

The last word

Ultimately, tracking unique visits, impressions and some metric of engagement will provide you with the necessary data to drive your social media program. Tracking these metrics consistently over time will also enable you to pinpoint changes in your program and the resultant changes in your traffic and engagement profile. After all, the best way to operate any program is with data — social media efforts are no different.

About The Author

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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