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Social Media Analytics: Beginners Guide

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Social media analytics is the method of collecting data from social media websites about a certain brand, product or service, and analyzing the data to make better, more informed business decisions. Insights derived from these analyses are often used to judge sentiments around a certain brand or product, and to better advise marketing strategies.

Metrics for social media marketing success are not always clear. From reach, to engagement, to impressions, proving social media marketing success is not a simple numbers game. Although numbers do provide some insight, the quality of those metrics is of higher importance.

Only 23.3 percent of marketers are able to qualitatively show the effects of their social media marketing campaigns. However, 43 percent believe social media has a large impact on their business.

The question they ask is: How do we prove that? Enter: social media analytics.

Why do we perform social media analytics?

There is a large amount of information to be found in the social media data collected through analytics. Prior to the invention of software and tools for collecting this data, brands would employ market research agencies to perform manual polls of consumers through focus groups or mail correspondence.

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Though that information proved to be very useful, the same information is being posted to social media platforms willingly by customers and is much easier to obtain through a virtual platform.

More trustworthy sources

Social media analytics allows companies to gather information about how the public views their brand in a truly honest, reliable setting.

Because consumers provide the information of their own volition, on their own profiles, without fear of backlash or judgment, businesses can get the most accurate picture of how the public perceives their brand, products and services.

Monitoring KPIs

Analyzing your business’s social media presence and success is a vital component to successful social media marketing.

Key performance indicators (KPIs), such as reach, engagement, traffic, sentiment and competitive benchmarking, all play a significant role in determining the effectiveness of a campaign.

What do analytics measure?

It can be easy to base achievements solely on the number of likes, retweets, reactions and comments on posts, but analytics go much deeper than simply tallying data.

Although tallying that data can be a great starting point for gauging success, the reasons people are interacting with your brand and what that means for business are far more telling.

Performance of posts

Social media analytics provide metrics that offer better insight as to how each post is performing, beyond counting likes and comments. These tools take things a step farther.

They report on where leads are generated from, the best times to post for the highest chances of interaction and visibility, and how your posts stack up against similar ones.

Social listening and audience analysis

Analytics provide tools that evaluate user demographics like location, age, gender and time of activity. In addition to these metrics, social listening and psychographics give you a more comprehensive picture of your audience.

  • Social listening helps you learn what is important to consumers. By monitoring and tracking what customers like and respond to, you can create content your customers will want to engage with.
  • Psychographics go even deeper and analyze attitudes, opinions and sentiments surrounding each form of media customers engage with. They provide a fully dimensional customer picture. By using psychographics, you not only know what consumers are engaging with, but how they feel about the content and why.

According to tech industry CEO Mark Hurd, “the way to overachieve is to have better information, to know who you’re talking to, and to know how to motivate that customer.” Better audience analysis gives you the ability to create audience segments based on shared emotions and experiences. In doing so, you can directly align your content with the needs of your customers.

How do we do it?

The first step in creating a social media analytics strategy is to determine what a brand’s particular goals are. There are numerous tools available that gather massive amounts of data about any and all aspects of a social media page.

However, not all of that information will be pertinent to every business. Setting goals will help you determine which data is important and which data is superfluous.

Types of data to track

  • Followers: Analyzing followers is particularly useful on Twitter and Instagram. It can be extremely helpful to know who is following your brand, what other brands they follow, who their followers are and what they’re overall interests are.
  • Impressions and reach: Impressions refer to the number of times your content — whether that is a Tweet, blog post, photo or something else — is seen. However, it’s not differentiated by user, meaning the same user could account for several impressions. Reach, on the other hand, refers to the total number of individual users your content has reached. These metrics can be especially helpful for measuring brand awareness and audience growth in a more comprehensive way than just measuring followers.
  • Engagement: Engagement encompasses every interaction on each post — comments., likes, mentions and shares. This measurement helps determine which users are simply seeing your content and which are interacting with it. Those who are interacting are much more involved with a your brand and therefore more likely to respond to posts.
  • Sentiment: Sentiment analysis takes things a step further in evaluating not only who is interacting with your content, but how they are interacting and how they feel about your company. Some social media analytics tools use AI to categorize and separate positive and negative sentiments. This helps you precisely target the most receptive members of your audience with advertisements and marketing efforts.
  • Competition: A competitive analysis can be vital for companies that want to ensure they are keeping up with the rest of the industry. It’s important to know what other organizations are doing and how well they’re performing. Not only does this show how your business stacks up against the competition, but it can also provide ideas as to what kinds of marketing efforts are working for others and what kinds aren’t.

Programs for every need

In order to properly perform social media analytics, you need the right tools. There are different tools depending on your needs, so it’s important to research which ones will work the best for your particular business.

Some businesses are focused on analysis of individual posts rather than their overall social landscape. Some want to track mentions as they come in, while others are looking to only follow specific hashtags. Other organizations are more concerned with how their campaigns stack up against the competition.

In-app analytics

For a few of the most popular social media apps, there is analysis software embedded in the platforms. For example, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook already have analysis tools built into their sites. These tools allow you to track performance and engagement without ever having to leave the app.

Third-party tools

For those who need tools that dive deeper into their social media analytics, there are third-party programs specializing in different facets of analysis. You can try paid tracking programs or the free Tweet Binder tool that evaluates hashtags and mentions. There is a program for every need.

Analyzing social media is a complex process with many moving parts. Knowing what metrics to measure, why it is important and how to track them is vital to a successful social media campaign.

There are many tools available, a multitude of metrics to track and endless insights to discover. Social media analytics are more complicated than surface-level engagement and are well-worth the investment.