Friday, 18 September 2015

Analyze THIS! Leveraging Social Media Analytics

Understanding social media analytics can be a bit like learning a new language. What is the difference between likes and reach? How about visits versus engagements? And who are all these followers anyway? When you start digging into the numbers behind the posts, you can really start to see the value of social media for your business, and the unprecedented information and access it gives you regarding your core audience.

Most social media platforms have customized analytics aggregators, called dashboards, which show insights into the demographics and behavior of your followers within their platform. Dashboard content and availability can vary by platform, and may require a threshold number of followers in order to display. For instance, Facebook’s Insights dashboard requires at least 30 people to like your page before data becomes available. And keep in mind that because of the interface, differences in dashboard content may exist between the mobile and desktop versions.


The biggest value of social media measurement from a marketing standpoint is the ability to minutely segment your audience and market directly to those users you think are most likely to buy your products or services. Social media platforms know this, so that kind of targeted advertising is only available for a fee. However, even the general account demographics social media sites give you for your confirmed followers is insightful when planning marketing promotions, building pricing, and creating content that appeals to your audience.

Demographic data varies by platform, and each site has some informational features that are unique to their site. Gender and age are two demographic mainstays, with household incomes, education, occupations, languages and location information all being used in various combinations. All platforms also have a way to compare your account’s unique audience to the general demographics of all of the site’s users. This can help you understand if your page content is aligned with the users of the site, or if you need to concentrate your efforts on a social media platform that’s more actively used by your audience.

Hopefully you completed this basic demographic research during the planning and social media strategy parts of your social media decision making, so alignment isn’t an issue. But, like anything, demographic information on social media can shift in response to market and adoption drivers. Facebook encountered this in the mid-2000s, when the number of users over 29 began increasing, away from its original demographic of college-aged students and newly post-graduate twentysomethings. Twitter saw demographic shift too as the platform’s user base moved from tech gurus and early adopters to armchair pundits and soccer moms with the increased ubiquity of smartphones and text messaging.

Impressions and Engagement

The whole purpose of social media is to engage with your followers in a way that reinforces your brand image or inspires them to share your content within their social groups. Impressions and engagement have a symbiotic relationship in social media, because one usually produces more of the other. This continuous cycle of impressions and engagements encourages the spread of your content beyond your own account followers, which makes that content viral. Viral content is the goal of every social media strategist in the business, and why it’s vitally important to the planning of your social media strategy. Virality means the content that was created resonated with followers in such a way that it compelled them to share it with non-followers. By studying the kinds of content that goes viral, a business can hope to replicate its success and spread its content to new audiences.

So what are impressions and engagements? Impressions, also called reach, are the number of individual social media accounts able to view your content. Engagements, or engagement rate, are the percentage of accounts who liked, favorited, shared, retweeted, clicked through, commented, expanded, or otherwise interacted with the content according to the abilities of the social media platform they were using. You can see where this relationship can increase content sharing exponentially when you realize each engagement can open your content to hundreds or thousands of new accounts, all of which have the same ability to keep engaging with the content.

Analytics and Competition

As discussed before, each social media platform has its own unique dashboard and series of metric markers for performing analytics. But if you are trying to publish content on multiple sites, understanding trends, engagement, and reach across all platforms can be tricky, and could potentially drive you crazy!

Multi-site analytics is one area where social media management tools can be helpful. Not only can these tools assist with overall account management and content optimization, but they can help spot trends that supersede any single platform’s analytics tools by integrating each platform’s individual metrics into an aggregated dashboard. There’s a lot more to these management tools, so we’ll cover them in a future blog post.

When it comes to competitive analytics, however, social media platforms come in a variety of flavors. While they can give you some insights into how competitors’ accounts are performing and they can suggest accounts to watch for additional information, they are usually limited in scope and number of monitored accounts, and of course, lack aggregated results from all of your business’ social media accounts.

For pure decision making, marketing, and competitive analysis across a number of social media platforms, a program called Rival IQ gives great results. It monitors the five most popular social media platforms, and can also track SEO keywords through search engines and via website content.

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