Social media analytics – they’re the magic behind why our social media content campaigns mean something – but not everyone bothers to track them and they’re missing out.
Today’s consumers expect more from companies. They increasingly look for brands that engage with them online and organisations that do, reap real benefits. But in order to do this, you have to know what works and what doesn’t and it’s far more complex than just the vanity metrics of likes, shares, and comments.
Do you know who is visiting your site? When they’re visiting? What they do once they arrive at your landing page? Whether they’re spending anything or signing up for your services? Do you get more visitors after you’ve run a social media campaign or Facebook Ad?
Answering the important questions about social media analytics
These are the vitally important questions which can only be answered by searching through and examining your web traffic and social media analytics. Web analytics software gathers the data and presents it in a way which lets you examine what is, and isn’t, working for all your social media campaigns.
It provides information either directly on the various social media platforms, or through other tools both free and paid for, such as how many people were viewing your site for the first time, what keywords they were searching for, what links they clicked on and highlights the bounce rate – how long they stayed before leaving.
Social media analytics can be scary
It’s no secret, a lot of people are put off simply by the word analytics. It’s a complex subject which covers a range of metrics and not all of them will be relevant to your organisation. Analytics brings a vision of IT geeks trawling through mounds of complex data and extrapolating complicated formula to get to the key information.
And while that’s not necessarily an untrue picture – certainly at the sharp end of web analysis and social media analytics – the basic features of many tools are often simple enough for the everyday user to be able to discover the necessary metrics they need.
Where Should You Start?
Dr. Aleksej Heinze, Visiting Senior Lecturer in Digital Business at Salford University, believes the three key metrics to concentrate on when looking for information about your website and social media analytics are the “Three Vs”:
- Volume of Visitors – how many people are visiting your site?
- Value of Visitors – what do they spend or which services do they sign up for?
- Brand Visibility – how visible is your brand in search engines, social media networks and on other traffic sources?
He said: “Think strategically about how you are using your website and what you would like to know to measure the success of your website performance.”
Analytics tools help you to establish WHY you post at a specific time of day, WHY you post as frequently, or infrequently, as you do, WHY you use Facebook rather than Twitter (for example) and lets you answer the question “are these the most effective tactics for my brand or business?”
They enable you to be better informed about your business, your customers, your competition and future opportunities, but the data is useless unless you take action.
This is the “daddy” of the analytics tools, it’s the one everyone’s aware of and it’s used by millions of people on a daily basis. It’s free, which is seen as an advantage, especially to an organisation which is just starting out on the web analytics trail, and it has plenty of resources available including a website and a YouTube channel.
It’s easy to find the surface details with GA, you can easily see where website visitors come from and whether they engage with the content or leave immediately. It also allows users to set up goals matching business targets and measures whether or not they are being achieved.
But Google Analytics is also complicated and complex to use if you want to get down into the meat of what’s happening with your website traffic.
Finding Helpful Social Media Metrics
There are dozens of metrics being recorded by Google Analytics. So one of the first things you have to work out is where you should be looking and which of those metrics you should be tracking.
The most obvious, and the ones usually associated with social media traffic statistics are:
- Traffic by social channel – this gives you information on your most valuable social media platforms and allows you to identify changes
- Social media traffic – identifies all social network traffic so you can compare with email or other forms of digital marketing
- Landing Pages – easily identify which dedicated pages are most shared on social media
Multi-Channel Reports – highlights the type of traffic you’re getting, is it organic or from paid campaigns for example
- UTM campaign results – what happens when you use an additional UTM parameter on a web address so you can identify the source i.e. /?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=socialmedia
Now, when you’re tracking any of these, there are also a few other steps you have to take. You need to make sure you’re filtering out your own internal traffic (and that from your mum and other friends – unless, of course, they’re going to be signing up for whatever you’re offering!)
You also need to set up blacklists to get rid of any referrals from dodgy sites (and they seem to be increasing on a daily basis) and look at methods of filtering out bot referrals.
So, while Google Analytics may be free, it can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out on your social media tracking journey.
Beacon Makes Things Easier
Beacon is the web analytics platform I work for. Built to shed light onto the real value of your social activity and digital media strategy, it was created after we experienced all the frustrations of trying to gain useful metrics to use when presenting reports to our clients on their digital marketing activity.
- Image: The dashboard reveals the key findings of any individual tracked Beacon Link URL
Beacon is a platform dedicated to revealing how your customers behave once they reach your website from various digital marketing channels. We use next-generation analytics technology to deliver a clear and attributable return on your social media marketing investment and allows you to see how social media users behave once they reach your website.
Google Analytics is brilliant at showing you overall traffic and referrals from social platforms or channels as a whole, but Beacon also gives you the ability to instantly drill down into the results of an individual link that is shared in a social post, and report on website traffic generated from it.
Beacon also reports on website visitor bounce rates (both hard and soft), average time on site from social visits both as a whole and per post, and also identifies between new and returning visitors. You can easily identify the posts which receive the most engagement, but also the posts which are driving the most traffic – not always the same one.
You can use Beacon alongside your Google Analytics to get even deeper social marketing insights quicker!
Social Media Analytics Help Your Customer Engagement
David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard fame, once said that marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people. For social media, that statement is as true as ever.
Dave Kellogg, technology executive, investor, adviser, and blogger, who used the above quote in his blog, also followed it up with his own thoughts. He said: “Marketing isn’t just tactical — it’s also quite strategic — and the strategic part is why it’s too important to be left to the marketing department (alone). The CEO can’t confuse delegation with abdication and move all strategy over the marketing department.”
Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator, and author and the man most people consider to be the founder of modern management, went further. His two most often quoted statements perfectly outline why he felt marketing was a vital part of any business.
- “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation.”
- “Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.”
As Dave Kellogg adds: “Marketing is the whole business seen from the point of view of the customer.”
Marketing Forms Your Analysis
Marketing tells a company’s story, highlights a product’s value, establishes brand presence and gets consumers engaged. Unlike much of the social analysis tools available, which primarily report on follower counts, likes and shares, and other vanity metrics, Beacon focuses on the impact social media has on your website.
Beacon tracks every link click and website visit from the Beacon Links you create for your marketing, and gives detailed analytics on your website traffic and page performances – providing valuable insights and intelligence into how your online marketing is going.
Using tools like Google Analytics and Beacon helps you measure the successes, and failures, of your social media marketing. It’s vitally important to check your analytics regularly to spot trends and see what your campaigns are doing to drive that all important web traffic to your site.
The more you look at your analytics, the more you will understand them. The more you use tools like Google Analytics and Beacon – and don’t forget the platform-specific built-in tools – the easier it will get for you to spot when a campaign isn’t working – and you’ll know how to fix it.
Use the above tools in conjunction with a social media management system like Hootsuite or Buffer and soon you’ll be able to highlight key trends and focus your social media activity to the potential customer base which is most likely to respond.
Understanding you social media analytics is an important skill for anyone working in the digital marketing world For social media managers it’s vital.
If you’re not tracking and analyzing your social media you’re missing out on a wealth of information which can make your job better.