The Complete Guide to Social Media Analytics

An illustration of a pie chart broken up into three parts. This is the type of graph that you may see on your social media analytics report evaluating an Instagram marketing campaign's performance.
An illustration of a pie chart broken up into three parts. This is the type of graph that you may see on your social media analytics report evaluating an Instagram marketing campaign's performance.

There’s a common saying in marketing: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This is why running a successful social media campaign begins with measuring your success.

It sounds a bit contradictory since measuring typically happens last in a campaign after you collect big data. But you first need to understand what exactly you want to accomplish.

From Snapchat to TikTok, Facebook to Pinterest, every platform has a different audience. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to social marketing, which is why it's important to use benchmarks and analyze your performance across every platform.

This is the only way you can accurately and confidently measure your performance. When you begin with the end in mind, you can work backward to get the results you want.

To do this, marketers rely on social media analytics. These are the metrics that are often the difference between a successful campaign and wasting your money and time on ineffective marketing. 

Here’s a closer look at social media analytics in more detail and how you can put it to work for better marketing campaigns.

Table of Contents

What is Social Analytics?

Exactly what is social analytics? Let’s start with a social media analytics definition. Analytics is the set of metrics you use to gauge your performance. When applied specifically to social media, it refers to the set of metrics that indicate how well a specific campaign performed.

Social media analytics can be measured in different ways: likes, shares, clicks, conversions, and audience reach, for example. There are also deeper-level metrics that require special tools to collect, such as ongoing engagement or the likelihood of being a return customer.

In many cases, brands use dedicated social media analytics tools to set up and keep track of metrics automatically. These tools are AI-powered and deliver deeper insights than what you could likely glean yourself.

How Social Analytics Helps You Understand Your Customers

An illustration of a gaint tablet with four small people sitting around the tablet looking at different devices that have icons associated with social media analytics, such as hearts, Likes, and emails, floating above them.

Analytics can be very telling about your customers’ behaviors, preferences, and potential to purchase or return. When you gain deeper consumer insights about your audience, you can use that information to tweak and refine your offerings to win more of their business.

With the right social media analytics, you can understand more about your customers, including:

The Size of Your Audience

Audience size refers to the number of followers you have. The larger the audience, the more people you have viewing your posts.

However, size is just one part of the overall social puzzle. Engagement doesn’t always correlate with size, and it’s better to have a targeted following that's engaged than one that just isn’t interested in what you offer.

Engagement Levels

Following you on social is the first step. Next, you want your followers to engage when you post actionable content.

This includes commenting on and sharing your posts, and even clicking through to your website. The more they engage, the more people who potentially see your content.

Customer Demographics

Knowing the type of customer who buys from you can help you target more of that type of customer. For example, do your customers share characteristics like age range, income level, geographic area, or job title? If so, you might appeal to other customers in those demographics.

This is a great way to focus your marketing on people who are most likely to buy. The right business intelligence tools can automate these consumer insights for you. 

Industry Influencers

Aside from learning more about your own customers, social analytics can provide a link between you and industry influencers. These are the people who are in the best position to spread the word about your products.

In some cases, you might attract influencers naturally. But in other cases, you may have to reach out to them and build a relationship.

Either way, social media analytics helps this process by identifying the presence and habits of highly engaged, highly effective people. Find the best matches for your brand's social influencer marketing without the guesswork by using analytics data from a platform like Meltwater.

You can simplify the process of monitoring your social media activity and compiling reporting on these insights by hiring a social analytics expert or using a social listening platform. Either should be able to present analytics findings in a clean, objective manner so you don’t have to spend hours or days sifting through unimportant filler information, and you can quickly get to the best nuggets.

Using Analytics to Beat Your Competition

In addition to tracking brand conversations, you can also benefit from knowing what’s being said about your competitors. Tracking positive and negative conversations on social media can help you improve your own offering. You can avoid making the same mistakes as your competitors and potentially win customers who are fleeing the competition.

For example, if you see people complaining about a certain feature or decision from Company X, you’ll know not to make a similar decision in your own company. Setting up social listening or media monitoring searches around your competitors is a critical step in building a competitive intelligence strategy.

In our ultimate Social Media Listening guide, you learn more about how to use social media monitoring for your marketing strategy.

Choosing the Best Social Media Metrics

There are lots of things you can measure. But measuring everything isn’t just unrealistic, it’s also not impactful. Brands should focus only on the social media metrics that will make the most difference to their social media campaign outcomes.

For example, you could get 1,000 likes on your product launch, but likes don’t equate to conversions. If a consumer doesn't buy the product, then your campaign can’t be considered successful, right?

That’s why it’s important to look beyond basic vanity social media KPIs and instead focus on context.

Think about your business goals that indicate real success. Analytics tools can do this on your behalf and compile insight in an easy-to-understand format.

Some metrics to consider include:

Audience Analysis

Seven clusters of people grouped together with one of those groups standing over a bullseye, signalling that this cluster of people represents your ideal type of customer.

Social media analytics tools can analyze your audience on each social platform and pick out your most engaged users. Know what your audience responds to so you can craft the right sentiment in your messaging.

Tools can also identify your most valuable followers, such as those with a large following that could become influencers for your brand. The more you understand about your followers, the more you can cater to their needs.

Post Reach and Results

It’s important to recognize the impact your posts and campaigns have on your audience. Are people engaging with your posts but not converting? Do you have low engagement but a high conversion from those who do engage? What’s your average click-through rate and how many of those people convert?

You should also look at which posts and types of content get the most engagement and conversions. Finding common denominators between your best-performing content can drive your content creation strategy moving forward.

Platform Engagement

Analytics gives you in-depth insight into the platforms that give you the best result. This isn’t always easy to see on the surface, which is why data-driven insights are so important.

For example, you might get 200 Likes on a Facebook page post and just 50 on an IG post, but your Instagram audience is spending more, for example.

Knowing your best social network can help you decide where to allocate your budget and spend more of your time on strategy. It also helps you deliver a better customer experience to a captive, engaged audience.

Best Time to Post

The times you post can have something to do with your social media marketing success. Analytics will pay attention to the best times to post to help you discover when you’re most likely to get the best engagement and conversions.

Once you find your sweet spot, you can use automation to post on your behalf and never miss an opportunity to connect.

Brand Mentions

When people are talking about your brand, good or bad, you deserve to know about it. A social listening tool can help you track every time someone mentions your brand or company, either directly or by nickname (Coca-Cola vs. Coke, for example). These platforms can show you who’s talking, what they’re saying, and even join the conversation.

In turn, social listening gives you a firmer grip on your brand’s reputation and image.

If you want to stay on top of the mentions around your brand or competitors, here are the top 21 social media monitoring platforms.

How to Use Social Analytics to Improve Your Campaigns

A person working on a lapto that is displaying a dashboard showing various social media analytics.

With a grasp on social media metrics, you can start collecting real-time insights and using them to improve your campaigns. Here are some areas you can focus on first:

Choose Your Objectives

Social media campaigns can take many forms: brand awareness, audience growth, and direct sales, for example. The metrics you focus on will vary based on your campaign’s objectives. For example, if you’re running a brand awareness campaign, it makes sense to dwell on likes, shares, and follows. If you’re trying to drive website traffic, these same metrics might not matter as much as click-throughs.

Every campaign should have an objective. You can better measure its success when you know what you wanted from it in the first place.

Select Your Best-Fit Channels

You don’t need a presence on every social media channel to make social work for you. As you use social media analytics over time, you’ll start to see which platforms will give you the best ROI for your time and money based on your objective.

Track Your Progress

It’s just as important to track your results with social media as it is your paid ads and website content. Use analytics to monitor engagement, both in the short term and over time. Benchmarking your data against yourself and others in your industry can help you gauge your success.

Also, A/B test your content to make sure you’re getting the best possible results. You can A/B test different offers or even different social media platforms. If Facebook gives you better results than Instagram, you’ll know to dedicate more resources to Facebook. Other items to A/B test include images, text, calls to action, and different content formats.

Tweak and Refine

As you start gaining insight into your campaigns, use that information to make impactful changes to your approach. Tweaking and refining on an ongoing basis can improve your results based on data, not hunches.

Empowering Your Strategy with the Right Analytics Tools

Twitter's Meet your dashboards page.

Getting the most out of your social analytics is easier when you choose the right tools. Many social platforms offer a built-in, easy-to-use analytics dashboard, so start there.

For example, Twitter Analytics can tell you at a glance your number of tweets, followers, impressions, profile visits, and mentions. Facebook Insights delivers post-related data, such as audience reach, clicks, and reactions. LinkedIn offers analytics that measure engagement and supplies information about your followers’ demographics.

Outside of native analytics channels, you can use third-party social analytics tools like Meltwater that provide a holistic view of your social media strategy. These platforms save you time from switching between the different social media networks and offer customizable dashboards so that you can easily compare your performance across networks. These reports can show you the ROI of your social campaigns.

Finally, there's also Google Analytics. Google not only tracks website activity, but can also create up to some types of social analytics reports.

No matter which route you take, know that tracking social media data is a key piece of any social media strategy. It could mean the difference between failing to connect with your audience or hitting your campaign out of the park every time.

For help implementing analytics into your social strategy, reach out to our team today.