3 Questions You Need To Ask When Measuring Social Data

Measure Social Data

Before you start setting goals and plugging data into an excel sheet you first need to understand how and what to measure when it comes to social media and that can be confusing.

Nearly every social platform has an analytics tool, and almost every social platform seems to give you something different to measure. However, if you can look past the terminology, settle for the information you do get and stop wishing for more, you will discover that most channels can not only be measured but also compared.

When it comes to measuring social data, you need to ask these three questions:

  1. What is available? 
  2. What is important? 
  3. What is comparable?

 In return, you will not only be able to measure your social platforms but generate actionable marketing insights.

1.What Data Is Available?

Depending on what social network you are on this can seem like you are snapping the lid right off Pandora’s box.

We can measure so much:

  • Impressions
  • Retweets
  • Favorites
  • Replies
  • Shares
  • Likes
  • On and on and on

The best way to begin is to dive right in, log in to each social sites’ analytics and insights page and look at the data that is readily available. Most provide a pretty clear overview of how content is performing for the day, week and month. Although we often don’t think it is enough, it can provide much-needed direction for a social strategy. Think about it, having a view of your top tweet says a lot more than we give it credit for! That is content your audience obviously identifies with, responds to and is clearly saying do more of that.

Then there are other social platforms that don’t give us any analytic tools. Don’t use this as an excuse not to measure anything! We have to settle for what we have (at least for now) and start gathering information immediately. This is the only way to keep improving our brand’s story and reach on these sites. The best thing to do is find out what numbers you can get a hold and work backward to fill in the blanks of “missing” insights.

Take Snapchat for example, as for now they do not provide any analytics platform, but they do provide you with a few numbers that are very usable. You can view:

  • The number of people who open up your first snap of a story every 24 hours- Your audience. 
  • You can see how many people have viewed the last snap- This can be used to measure the number of people who actually viewed the entire story.
  • You can see how many people have viewed each chapter of your story- Did people stop watching at a certain snap? Maybe the story was too long, or a chapter didn’t match the rest of the content?
  • And every time someone takes a screenshot- Count this as engagement.

That’s a lot of information for a site that gives you no analytics tools!

We are often on the hunt for more and more data from these social media sites but why? The information that is already available can be insightful. We have to step back and realize the data we need is already there and maybe our hesitation to use it comes from a fear that we won’t like the answers we get.

2. What Data Is Important? 

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I think we can all remember the days when the number of likes your Facebook Page had was what mattered most, but as social media has evolved so has the way we view its success. We have realized a Page “like” isn’t enough. We want more from our “followers,” they want more from us, and there is a lot of competition for their attention.

Now that we hardly pay attention to those vanity metrics we find ourselves looking for numbers that have some substance. How do we figure out what data on social media can provide some insight? Think of it like this: 

What steps (posted content on social) will lead to the actions I want my consumer to take (engagement: likes/comments/shares/clicks)?

What numbers are actually measuring these results?

It’s more important than ever to measure social this way. If it hasn’t happened already, there will come a day when the hours, resources and money you used to make all those posts, videos, memes, and ADs are going to need to be justified. Will you have the numbers to prove your success? How will you connect the money spent on social to the number of sales coming in? Content comes at a cost and being able to pull metrics that show how well (or not so well) it is doing is not only important to the person who approves your budget but also needs to be a priority for you- it provides direction for where your brand needs to go. Good social marketers aren’t just pushing publish and crossing their fingers; they dive head first into metrics to prove their content aligns with business goals.

3.What Data Is Comparable?

Now that you know what is available and how to pick what is important it is time to find the connection between these social sites. The four core factors you should be using for comparison are:

  • Content- What does each social media platform consider as published content?
  • Audience- Who can view the published content?
  • Impressions- How many times a piece of content is displayed? Most social media sites reveal this number
  • Engagement- How can the audience interact with published content? 

Below, I have broken down what these four elements mean and if they are available on seven different social media networks.  You will also see that these all seem so different when looking at them individually on each site, but when you stop to think about it, the actions you want your audience to take is essentially the same. As for the social sites that aren’t giving us those numbers just yet, you have to move past that and focus on what you do get.

FACEBOOK TWITTER INSTAGRAM SNAPCHAT YOUTUBE LINKEDIN PINTEREST
CONTENT POST TWEET POST STORY VIDEO POST PIN
AUDIENCE PAGE LIKES FOLLOWERS FOLLOWERS TOTAL UNIQUE VIEWS SUB-CRIBERS FOLLOWERS FOLLOWERS
 IMPRES-SIONS YES YES NO NO YES YES YES
ENGAGE-MENT LIKES, SHARES, COMMENTS LIKES, RETWEETS, REPLIES, URL CLICKS COMMENTS, LIKES SCREEN-SHOTS,  VIDEO VIEWS, VIDEO COMPLETION RATE VIEWS, COMMENTS, THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN,  SHARES CLICKS ON: CONTENT, COMPANY NAME,   LOGO CLICKS, REPINS, LIKES, SHARES

Now that you know what is comparable use these four core elements as a guide for what metrics you should gather and focus on for each social media platform. This is a great base to start measuring social performance. You can use these metrics to validate content, realize you need to re-think your strategy, figure out what sites to focus on or even to compare how the same piece of content performs on different networks.

Wrap It Up

Whatever you decide to do with your data just know that every piece of content you put up on social media should come with a way to track its success. Whether you are a small business who can track the data yourself or you invest in a marketing dashboard that gathers and visualizes these numbers for you. Once you have an understanding of what data you need to be tracking, you are then ready to start tying it back to investments made.

Want more content like this? Check out this blog post How To Use Snapchat And Instagram Stories To Engage Your Audience.

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