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This is part 8 of my Smart Insights 12 part social media series. In the last part we looked at resource planning for social media; in this blog, I discuss what data you should capture and report to measure the impact of your social media marketing campaigns.
To frame the conversation, I’ll cover four different type of report:
It’s important to understand the context, and limitations, for reporting. The data you have access to depends upon your business resources and scale of social activity. For example, many small businesses don’t have subscriptions to social media monitoring tools like Audiense and Buzzsumo, so won’t be able to include data from these in their regular reports. Focus on what data you have available; you can extend later by adding tools or customising analytics.
What you need to report on should be aligned with your social media strategy goals and objectives (see part 2 in this series – “How to create a social media strategy and plan”). For example, if a goal is to increase customer retention by using social media marketing to bring people back to your website, then ensure you have a metric based upon returning visitors.
You also need to differentiate between value metrics (data points that can be used to take action e.g. analysing retweet data can help identify content topics and formats that drive social sharing and brand reach) vs. vanity metrics (data points that indicate engagement but have limited wider impact e.g. likes on Twitter may indicate popularity but increasing likes doesn’t increase content reach like RTs do*).
*caveat – if the only people who RT your content have limited followers and/or are bot spam profiles, then it’s no longer a value metric! Context is everything.
Learn what analytics reports each social network offers. For example, Twitter has a useful ‘Top mention’ for each month, showing the most popular tweet including your twitter handle. You can also drill into engagement metrics for individual tweets, to analyse what type of tweet gets the highest engagement rate or total number of engagements.
This is for the social media team, not management, and the aim is to monitor daily fluctuations in activity to be able to spot a change quickly and react. In social media terms, a day is a very long time, so if you see a sudden spike in brand mentions or engagement rate, you need to find out why, fast.
This dovetails with proactive social channel management, ensuring that someone is regularly checking anything posted on the brand’s social networks, as well as brand and product mentions. You don’t want to wait until the next morning to find out if you had a problem the previous day!
I tend to use each social network’s own analytics reports for daily monitoring, or an aggregated view like Hootsuite, from which you can access data on multiple networks (though you’ll need a Pro or Enterprise license to unlock any meaningful data).
Below is an example of the questions I look to answer on Twitter for daily activity:
Detailed sentiment analysis requires subscription to a specialist tool like Meltwater or Trackur, though you can do ‘rough’ analysis using free tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention, albeit with a more limited toolkit.
I use free tools like Twittercounter to keep an eye out for follower spikes. The free versions give you limited but useful data to get a handle on trends. For example, the screenshot below shows follower growth over one month for Smart Insights, an easy visual way to spot spikes.
If any of the above questions are a ‘Yes’, I’d analyse the data further to find a logical reason and take action if required. For example, if I suddenly gained hundreds of followers but discovered these were fake/low quality profiles, then I’d ignore the spike as it’s a false reading but I might look into things like my hashtag usage to see if a specific hashtag is attracting bot spam.
Typically I’d set this up in a web analytics tool like Google Analytics and create a custom dashboard, though some people prefer to use custom dashboard tools like Dash.this, which offers periodic, rolling and campaign reports.
Below is a simple periodic report from the Dash.this blog showing key metrics for each network and comparison with the previous period:
Another useful report aggregation tool for social media is Klipfolio, which lets you connect all your social channels and then create custom reports and dashboard to give you a customised data view. Below is an example report Klipfolio has created to showcase the flexibility:
Your weekly KPI report should contain data for each KPI that is aligned with your social media goals. It should be distributed to key stakeholders including the senior social media decision maker. It’s useful to align graphs and charts with 4 different dimensions:
You should also include a comparison of key metrics with the prior week and the corresponding week from the previous year.
Monthly reports enable an objective performance comparison over a longer period of time for management teams. They show whether upward/downward spikes flagged in weekly reports are trends or isolated incidents. They also help you contextualise external factors that have short-term impact (e.g. unexpected celebrity endorsement of your product), to avoid changing your social media plan based on exceptions rather than the norm.
A monthly report should include:
It’s common for monthly reports to go to senior management, so think carefully about how much and what to show. The more data you include, the more questions it’s likely to generate.
A few tips:
This is less about metric reporting and more about insight, action and prioritisation. The goal of a quarterly review is to assess how fit for purpose the strategy still is, and what has been learned in the last quarter than should influence planning for the next quarter. This should be a face-to-face meeting, scheduled in advance to ensure people can attend, and include key stakeholders like the head of ecommerce, digital marketing decision makers and customer services manager.
I break this down into the following sections:
I don’t have an example I can share, as all client strategy reviews are commercially sensitive.
So this is step 8 in the Smart Insights 12 step series on social media strategy and planning.
Did you find it useful?
What data points do you include in your social media reports? How often do you generate reports? What data do you find the most useful for providing insight that you can act on?
Please join in the discussion and share your experience in the comments field at the bottom of this page.
Keep an eye out for next month’s article, “Essential tools for social media marketing”.
Missed the previous articles? Catch-up here:
6 reasons why you need a social media strategy
How to create a social media strategy and plan
Competitor analysis for social media strategies
Understanding the role of organic and paid social media
Creating a social media content strategy and plan
Aligning social media with other marketing channels
Resource planning for social media
By James Gurd
James is an Ecommerce consultant and owner of Digital Juggler, an E-commerce and Digital Marketing consultancy helping retailers develop, execute and evolve E-commerce strategies and optimise their digital channel. With a background as a Head of E-commerce and also agency side as Head of Client Development, he has experienced life on both sides of the fence. He has helped companies like A&N Media, Sweaty Betty and Smythson to manage RFP/ITT proposals. and been lead consultant on high profile projects for Econsultancy, Salmon and Greenwich Consulting. He is a guest blogger for Econsultancy, for whom he also writes best practice guides, regularly contributes to industry events and co-hosts #ecomchat, a weekly Twitter chat for e-commerce knowledge sharing. For e-commerce advice and support, connect with James on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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