Meanwhile, Facebook Insights have been available for three years (they’ve come on a long way in that time). And social media apps such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Klout all allow users to measure different aspects of their social media engagement.
As copywriters and marketers have known for over a century, stats are the best way of finding out what works, and what doesn’t.
But how can you make sure you’re making the most of your social metrics?
1. Know Where You’re Headed
For any journey, you need a map, a destination and a route.
Metrics are not the map. They don’t show you where to go. And they’re not the destination or the end goal. Rather, they help you see whether you’re taking the right path.
Before you set any goals for your social media engagement, you need to know where your business is headed. The goals you set for social media should then serve your business goals.
For example, let’s say you have a business goal of increasing revenue by 10%. To do this, you need to make more sales. And to make more sales, you need to increase traffic to your website. Boosting traffic is a goal social media can help with.
2. Get Familiar With What You Can Track on Social Media
What you can measure is usually dictated by the analytics tools you use. Some of the things you can track include:
- Engagement. This is measured by tracking how many people reply to a post. On Facebook, these are comments and on Twitter they’re replies.
- Volume. How much are your posts being spread? The more your updates are shared, the louder your volume. On Twitter, volume is created by retweets. On Facebook, the volume is amped up by “shares”.
- Reach. This is the number of people who are seeing a particular post. Reach helps you put other stats into context. Getting 10 comments isn’t too impressive if you’ve got a reach of 1 million. However, 10 comments on a reach of 100 people is something to smile about.
- Sales. How many sales are you making as a result of your social media posts? If you run an online store, Google Analytics can keep track of this for you.
- Lead gen. If you run a service business, how many new leads are you generating each month as a result of social media? This is easy to track if you generate leads directly on social media though you’ll have to keep track of the stats for yourself.
This is just some of what it’s possible to track on social media. It’s worth getting familiar with several social analytics tools so you can see for yourself what it’s possible to measure.
3. Set Goals Based on What You Can Track and Where You’re Headed
Once you know what it’s possible to track, then you can set appropriate goals for your social media accounts.
Compare what you can track to your business goals. Which metrics are the best indicators of whether you’re achieving your business goals?
For example, if one of your business goals is to provide excellent customer service, then you might want to keep track of how long it takes you to reply to customer queries on social media.
If your aim is to boost the visibility of your brand, then you’ll need to track volume.
4. Make Your Goals SMART
SMART goals, as invented by Peter Drucker, one of the greatest business thinkers of the 20th century, are:
When it comes to tracking your social metrics, it’s particularly important to make your goals measurable. You’ve already done this by setting goals based on what you can track.
It’s also important that your goals are actionable. This means you know the specific actions you need to take to achieve those goals.
This is easier for some goals than for others. Taking the customer service example we outlined in the previous step, you might have set a goal of responding to customer queries on social media within two hours. Acting on that goal is simple. You’ve got to find a way of keeping track of customer queries, and you’ve got to make sure you reply to them.
However, if your goal is to increase the number of times your posts are shared, then the actions you should take are less obvious, so it’s not a SMART goal. You could adjust this goal to be “create three pieces of content with viral potential every week.”
5. Have a “Dashboard” Where You Can View Your Stats
Measuring your stats is only useful if you remember to check-in and see how things are going. You’re much more likely to do this if you keep all your stats in one location.
All good analytics software provides a “dashboard” with a stats overview. However, this is only useful if the dashboard tracks the stats that are relevant to your goals. You may find it more helpful to create your own “dashboard” by noting down metrics in a spreadsheet.
6. Tweak as Necessary
Social media is a rapidly changing landscape. A decade ago, Twitter and Pinterest didn’t even exist. Facebook was in its early infancy.
No matter what goals you set for your social marketing, you will have to adjust them. This could be because technology changes. Or it could be because you discover that your goals are close to impossible, or that your goals aren’t as aligned with your business objectives as they could be.
Adjusting your goals – and the actions you take to achieve those goals – isn’t a sign of weakness. It doesn’t mean you’re turning back. It means you’re responsive to feedback, and you’re moving forwards.
7. Keep Experimenting!
Social media is an experiment. No one has the monopoly on the right way to do it.
It’s a good idea to see your efforts in tracking metrics as experiments. That way, you can’t go wrong, because whatever you learn is feedback for your experiment.
And the great thing about experiments is that you never know when you’ll discover something no one has ever found before.