Before you ask yourself how to measure social media results you need to take a step back and examine what your social media goals are. Research shows that setting goals leads to better performance for both teams and individuals (van der Hoek, Groenveld, & Kulpers, 2018) (Latham, Seijts, & Slocum, 2016), and this principle definitely applies to social media marketing. And knowing what your goals are will help you determine what data to track and how to interpret it to improve your results over time.
You may want to look at your analytics results by week or month to get a big picture view of what is going on. When you see big changes in either direction you can go back to that period and look closer to find out what actions may have led to the change.
A common social media goal is to increase brand awareness. If this is your goal you will want to pay attention to the number of people who have shown interest in your social media accounts and the actual reach of your posts. You can find this information in the analytics tools provided by each social media platform or via a third-party tool.
- Followers or Likes
- Reach of posts
Are your followers just looking at your content and scrolling by? Or are they stopping to engage with you? Tracking engagement will give you an idea of how many people are interacting with your content and how often. When you see an individual post that has received a lot of attention you can determine what caused the engagement and replicate that strategy. You may also find that different types of posts have a warmer reception on different platforms, which can allow you to better target your content for your audience in the future.
You might have tons of followers and huge reach, but are those viewers making it to your website? If your goal in using social media is to drive traffic to your website you will want to track how many visitors are coming to your website from your social media pages. Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that allows you to look at how many of your website viewers came to your page from a social media site, how many of those are new versus repeat users, their average session duration, how many pages they are visiting and your bounce rate. And you can dig deeper to find date for each of your social media accounts. Look for trends and see what changes you can make to your social media posts not only to lead more people to go your site but to keep them there longer.
Are your social media fans signing up for your newsletter or otherwise providing you with their contact information? You can use Google Analytics again to set up conversion goals that show you exactly how many social media users are entering their lead information on your website or landing page. If you have a lot of social media followers visiting your website but they are not signing up or giving you a way to contact them you can try making changes to your social media posts to generate more engagement, or try making changes to your website/landing page to encourage more people to participate.
Similar to lead generation you can track whether your social media content is resulting in sales or donations. This may be easy if you are selling or collecting donations directly on a social media platform! But using Google Analytics again you can also set up conversion goals or use Ecommerce Tracking features to measure how much of the revenue from your website you can attribute to your social media activities.
If you are using social media for customer support you should measure how often customers are engaging with you, how efficiently you are responding to them and how effectively you are meeting their needs. You can track the number of questions you receive, your response time in getting back to them, and customer satisfaction. You may want to ask customers to rate their satisfaction after each interaction or ask for feedback on how to improve to track qualitative data.
PUTTING IT INTO CONTEXT
In order to better understand trends in your social media data it is a best practice to track your own production. How many posts did you publish during the week or on that day? Are there any correlations between your posting frequency and the goals you are tracking that you can take advantage of? Are you seeing more website traffic from social media when you post more videos on Facebook, or seeing more engagement when you post more stories on Instagram? Is there something different about the way you worded the post that saw the most engagement that you can replicate?
Setting goals and tracking data will set you on a path towards a comprehensive social media strategy that works for you! It will save you from tracking numbers that do not tell you anything or from focusing on metrics that aren’t supporting your bottom line.
Latham, G., Seijts, G., & Slocum, J. (2016). The goal setting and goal orientation labyrinth: Effective ways for increasing employee performance. Organizational Dynamics, 45(4), 271-277. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orgdyn.2016.10.001
van der Hoek, M., Groenveld, S., & Kulpers, B. (2018). Goal Setting in Teams: Goal Clarity and Team Performance in the Public Sector. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 38(4), 472-493. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0734371X16682815