Social Media Analytics Guide

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Social media is a lot like middle school. People doing goofy stuff for attention? Check. Wearing your popularity like it’s a badge of honor? Check. Class-clowns making jokes, hot girls looking pretty, and people getting a little too dramatic a little too often? Check.

Thing is, social media isn’t just like middle school because of the way people behave. Instead, it’s also like middle school in that it gives businesses a captive audience to sell and market to.

Middle school is, essentially, a highly-focused marketing group that lets businesses easily reach both kids and their parents. It’s the reason food and beverage companies partner with schools to get their products on vending machines and cafeterias; it’s why ad companies like Education Funding Partners broker advertising placement between schools and Fortune 500 companies; and it’s how entrepreneurial students make money on the side by selling to their peers.
The sheer volume of social media users and the increasing amount of time people spend on the platform has led it to become a very lucrative marketing venue. More than the potential to reach such a large amount of prospects, the level of targeting that social media affords (a direct result of the amount of information people freely share about themselves) can be just as focused, if not more so, as it is when advertising in a school in a specific district to students in a specific age range.


Since the early days of online marketing, it’s always had a leg up on other avenues in one area: the sheer amount of things you can measure. Need to know exactly how many people saw your ad? Easy. Want to know how long people read your copy? Done. How about the exact demographics of people that bought your product? Give me five minutes. Basically, availability of in-depth analytics makes online a direct marketer’s wet dream. And social media marketing takes that ready availability of metrics to another level.With the size of data being collected by social networks, there is an overwhelming amount of metrics advertisers can get access to. As such, information about our campaigns is far from the problem. Instead, we’re burdened with finding exactly which of the available metrics we should focus our attention on. Analytics exist, after all, to provide light to the uncertain variables that go into a marketing campaign. Figuring out which metrics matter to your business goals is just as important as having access to all of the data.


In the early days of social media marketing, it naturally inherited the same tried-and-true metrics we use in other online marketing campaigns. It seemed to make sense, so we relied on “page views,” “revenue per customer,” “repeat visits,” and other transactional metrics to evaluate the success of a campaign.Problem is, social media turned out to be a bust as an engine for direct sales. As such, the metrics we’ve used for PPC, affiliate marketing, and SEO don’t really apply.


While you can do direct marketing on social media (and some have done it successfully), the culture of social networks makes it a lot more difficult to do than other platforms. As such, most companies have turned away from direct sales, focusing their social media marketing on items where it can make a more pronounced impact, instead. A strong presence on social media can allow businesses to increase brand exposure, engage directly with customers, monitor brand sentiment, and receive instant feedback on their products and services, among similar activities. While these things don’t have exact dollar figures attached to them, they can be quantified using metrics like reach, engagement, response rates, and more. For the most part, it is in those measurements, along with customer profiling and understanding customer behavior, where social media analytics shine.


“What’s the ROI on social media?”

It’s a straightforward, all-encompassing question with a most unspecific, individualized answer. Simply put, there’s never a clear one-size-fits-all response. Jeff Berezny, founder of Ten Social, phrases it this way: “Social media is a channel, not an activity. You can’t measure a channel. You have to measure the activity (or content) which you communicate on that channel.”ROI, thus far, is the toughest area for social media analytics. It might be fair to say that most people haven’t really figured out how ROI legitimately works on social media. In a survey of 2,800 marketers conducted by Social Media Examiner, for instance, only an alarming 34 percent of marketers expressed confidence that their Facebook campaigns are effective. The rest are uncertain, likely unsure of the direct correlation between ROI and the metrics they are using.


While there remains a lot of confusion when it comes to the proper metrics for social media marketing, there is hope for us yet. Little by little, marketers are learning how to properly analyze the fast-growing platform of social networks. Do we have things all figured out? Definitely not, but that doesn’t mean social media analytics doesn’t offer enough helpful information that you can take and apply towards improving your own marketing campaigns.

  1. The Difference between Social and Web Analytics

One of the first keys to figuring out social media analytics is to differentiate it from traditional web analytics. This article does a great job of separating the two, explaining the kinds of metrics each one tracks and how they can be used to improve your bottom line. At the most basic, author Subhro Sen defines it this way: web analytics measures traffic levels, referral sources, and user behavior on your site, while social analytics gathers data on social networks to help businesses build more effective business strategies.

The post focuses more, naturally, on the much newer (and, arguably, more confusing) social analytics, detailing popular metrics and providing reasons for their relative importance. He also explores how you can use analytics to improve not just an organization’s social media marketing efforts, but its ability to predict current and future market demand, enabling better real-time decision-making on campaigns, sales forecasts, and price.

  1. The Definitive Guide to Tracking Social Media Metrics

“There’s a difference between knowing what the stats mean and knowing which stats are meaningful,” Kevan Lee muses in this comprehensive article. Here, he goes in-depth on social media metrics, providing definitions and categorizing them according to their function in a specific campaign’s objectives, as well as guiding readers on how to properly assess them for their value in relation to an organization’s business goals. He then goes into a comparison of several key metrics, detailing how to properly track them across the different social networks and questioning one’s merits over the others. There’s a small section on tools, too, if you’re not familiar with the available options for social media analytics.

  1. Social Media Analytics: Capture, Understand, Present

In this guide for marketers, Angela Hausman details the current state of social media analytics, exploring the different organizational barriers that make it difficult for social media marketers to expand the use of analytics in their own organizations.   She lists the ways in which you can solve those problems, then offers recommendations for successfully implementing analytics within an overall social media strategy. The post is based, largely, on a study jointly made between MIT Sloan and IBM, which found that organizations who have integrated social media analytics into their strategic planning achieve better results than those that haven’t.

If your bosses ever look at you condescendingly the next time you suggest implementing more extensive analytics in your social media strategy, this post will come extremely handy.

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics

If you’re an internet marketer, Google Analytics is one of those tools you can’t possibly ignore. It was important before social media marketing came along and it remains that way even in our newfound social existence.

This guide from Buffer’s Belle Beth Cooper shows you how to use the wealth of analytics the resource offers to track your social media campaigns, with a focus on content marketing. If you need help navigating the large expanse that is Google Analytics for your social media work, this should help you pull a solid jump right off the starting line.

  1. An In-Depth Guide on How to Calculate the ROI of a Social Media Campaign

In this post, Jamie Turner separates a company’s social media ROI cycle in three stages. In the first stage, companies haphazardly launch their social media presence, covering all the bases while delivering little depth to their efforts. In the second stage, companies begin formalizing their social media goals and defining the quantitative metrics they will use to assess each campaign’s results. The third stage is where they optimize, having realized that quantitative metrics aren’t the best way to measure social media ROI. He claims that most companies never reach the third stage, which is why their social media efforts aren’t delivering its full value.

The bulk of the post expands on a formula he uses to evaluate the true success of a campaign, focusing on a customer’s lifetime value to the business rather than short-term metrics. Everything else, from the budget you should be willing to spend to the amount of customers you need to engage, should stem directly from that very first data. With those things defined, he provides practical tips for identifying leads, using metrics to determine which campaign areas to optimize, and how to improve the customer’s lifetime value.



  1. Google Analytics

From the introduction of Social Reports in 2012, Google Analytics has evolved into an excellent resource for social media analytics. On top of the service’s traditional marketing metrics, you can use it to filter social media traffic, view conversions by social network, conduct A/B testing on website content, and even show the value of social media on the sales channel. Granted, the interface is far from the easiest to navigate, but it is free. Plus, you can pair it with something like’s Google Analytics report to get a custom infographic that’s much easier to digest.

  1. Simply Measured

A comprehensive social media reporting platform, it supports a wide range of social networks, from the big ones to relatively newer players like Vine and Pinterest. You can get a wide range of standard and scheduled reports for every platform, perform competitive analysis against competitors, get data on influencers and trends, and receive email alerts for brands, hastags, and keywords.   It can also be connected to Google Analytics for web traffic and conversion analysis.

  1. Rival IQ

A competitive intelligence platform for busy marketers, it lets you track and compare key social metrics, as well as keep tabs on the social and web activities of competitors across multiple markets. Not only can you get in-depth social metrics from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, but analyze relevant SEO data, monitor and improve your social bio, and monitor the best performing content across social media.

  1. Hootsuite

One of the most popular tools currently in the market, Hootsuite originally rose to prominence as a single dashboard for managing your social media accounts. With its acquisition of UberVU and partnership with Brandwatch, it has now evolved into a social media analytics powerhouse, letting you track the growth of your social profiles, learn more about your audience, monitor brand sentiment, and create detailed metric reports.

  1. Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics

Sometimes, you don’t have to stray too far from the nest to get your analytics data. Both of these resources allow you to track the success of every single post you make in their respective social networks. Combined with data from a third-party service, both of these can be invaluable tools to completing the picture when it comes to determining your social media marketing’s performance and ROI.


What are your experiences regarding the current state of social media analytics? Do you find it indispensable, useful enough to keep doing, or a confusing mess that will probably take a bit more time to mature?

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Author: Firdaus

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