There is no way around it: social media takes time. There are no shortcuts.
In talking to many entrepreneurs and online business owners about social media, there is a common theme that emerges: we all want to reach our goals quickly and efficiently. We want to know that the things we are spending our time on are bringing us a return on our (time and/or money) investment.
What if I told you you might be wasting 90% of your social media efforts?
I don’t know that for sure, but do you know either? The only way to know if what we are doing is helping us get closer to our goals is to conduct regular audits of our activities.
We need to use data to make decisions that help us be more successful in the most efficient way.
However, creating social media analytics reports can be confusing, or even overwhelming. There is so much data to look at in so many places, how do we know what is meaningful? And how do we interpret what this data is telling us?
Let me give you a framework for creating a monthly social media analytics report that will help you identify your best opportunities on social media.
Decide What to Track
The purpose of social media analytics reporting is to evaluate the outcomes of your current efforts and make sure you are reaching the goals you set in your social media strategy.
If you don’t have specific, written goals for your social media presence, I recommend you read my article on how to set social media goals before proceeding.
Without defined goals, we don’t have a real definition of what “success” is for us. There is no benchmark for us to measure against.
“In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.”Author Unknown
There are what feels like an infinite number of data points you can track for your social media. Some ideas are:
- Visits to your website from social
- Email subscribers from social
- Top posts (by impressions, reach, and/or engagement)
- Brand mentions
- Inquiries (like direct messages, calls, or emails from social)
- Views (for Stories or video, number of views, average amount of video watched, etc.)
- Best days and times to post
- Best post formats (for Facebook and LinkedIn: what performs best? Is it links, videos, lives, or something else?)
Your goals determine what is most important for you to track. Let me give you examples from some of the most common social media goals my clients set.
Increase Brand Awareness
If your goal is to increase awareness of your brand, you might want to track:
- Followers – More followers mean more new people are finding your brand.
- Reach – Reaching more people this month than you did last month means more brand awareness.
- Website Visits – Increased visits to your website also means that more people are noticing your brand.
- Brand Mentions – More people talking about you to their own connections and audiences means that you are reaching even more new people!
Increase Leads and/or Sales
If your goal is to increase leads or sales, look at things like:
- Website Visits – If your website is optimized for sales, your conversion rate should hold, meaning more visits equals more sales.
- Email Sign-ups – Email sign-ups can be a precursor to more sales because you have a chance to nurture new leads until they are ready to buy. An increase in subscribers should lead to an increase in sales.
- Pins/Saves – On Instagram you can see how many people save an image. On Pinterest you can see the number of re-pins per post. If you sell a physical product, an increase in saves/re-pins could correlate to an increase in sales.
Improve Customer Service
If your goal is to improve your customer service, or deepen your relationship with your customers, you can track:
- Number of Contacts – How many calls, emails, and direct messages are you getting from social platforms? (Facebook and Instagram track this for you in Insights) What information are you getting from customers, and how can you use it to serve your customer better?
- Comments – Comments on your posts can provide a ton of insight about your ideal customer, and what their wants and needs are. You can use this information to serve them better.
Establish Industry Credibility & Expertise
If you are using social media as a leader or influencer to build credibility and establish yourself as an expert, you may monitor:
- Followers – More followers give you “social proof,” like a visual testimonial that you are worth listening to because you have X amount of followers.
- Website Visits – You can track the number of visits to particular blog posts. Your blog content is there to help establish your body of work as an expert, so you want to make sure people are getting to it.
- Video Views – Like blog posts, if you use video to deliver content, you want to make sure that people are consuming your videos.
- Post Engagement – Increased engagement shows that people feel a connection to you and your brand, and they feel compelled to engage with you.
A Basic Social Media Analytics Report
You get to decide what you include in your own social media analytics report, but a simple place to start is:
- Number of followers on each account
- Number of website visits from each platform
- Number of new email subscribers (total number OR by platform)
- The post on each platform that got the greatest reach
- The post on each platform with the highest engagement rate (total number of engagements like likes, comments, and shares / total reach)
Where to Find the Data
So where do you get this social media data to analyze? The great news is that you don’t need to invest in expensive social media analytics tools to get reliable information. You already have what you need within each social media platform!
If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed on your website, I need you to do that–stat! If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your website, you will lose all visibility to what your fans do on your site once they have left the social media platform.
It’s important to understand where people go once they’ve arrived on your site. I could see that 90% of the website visitors that opted in to my freebie were coming from search engine traffic or from Pinterest. That’s valuable info!
Installing Google Analytics is simple to do on your own, or if you are uncomfortable with putting a snippet of code on your website, reach out to a developer on Fiverr or Upwork to do it for you!
Within the admin or Business Manager view of your business page, there is a tab called Insights. You can even export the data to excel for easier sorting.
You need a business profile on Instagram to have access to analytics. From your Instagram profile, click the hamburger icon in the upper right side. Insights are listed here.
You need a business account on Pinterest to have access to analytics. When logged in, you can access analytics in the upper left corner.
You can find Twitter analytics at ads.twitter.com. You never have to place an ad on Twitter to get the analytics, but information is there for all your tweets.
Business pages in LinkedIn have an analytics tab when you are looking at the page as an admin. If posting articles as an individual user is a part of your strategy, you can also see stats on your article performance by going directly to that article.
If you use a scheduling tool like Buffer, HootSuite or Tailwind, there are often analytics available in these platforms. (But truthfully, I prefer to just go straight to the platform for the information.)
Completing Your Social Media Report
You have information now, so what do you do with it? It’s time to look at it, think about what it is telling you and turn it in to something you can use and refer back to.
Pick a Consistent Day
Do it on the same day each month. The first of the month, or the first Monday, is a great time! Put a recurring appointment on your calendar and keep the commitment.
Use a Template
Once you’ve decided what is worth tracking, create yourself a spreadsheet template that you can dump numbers into. This will give you a central place to look back at over time to identify trends.
Remember the Long Game
Remember that being successful on social media is an endurance sport, not a sprint. “Success” isn’t always about bigger and better numbers. Often it is about nurturing the relationships you already have.
Don’t make rash decisions based on single data points. Just because you didn’t gain followers on Instagram this month doesn’t mean you should trash it. Social media analytics are about looking for trends over time.
Once you have established this habit of social media reporting, compare results month over month, quarter over quarter, or year over year. Maybe you want to compare July of this year to July of last year.
We can’t do business in a vacuum… or in our own heads. We can’t be married to our own good ideas. We need to understand our customers and what they want and need… and we can only do that by:
- Looking at the REAL results of our past efforts.
- Talking to them (but that is the subject for another post!)
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then I hope you now think the path to success is using your experience to pivot and adjust where you should!
Other Helpful Articles
- Why You Need a Social Media Strategy
- How to Set Social Media Goals
- Improve Your Facebook Reach with Insights
- How to Create G.R.E.A.T. Social Media Content
Molly Marshall teaches small business owners and online entrepreneurs how to systematically and simply grow a profitable online presence through social media. Get your FREE Instagram Strategy Guide now!