Understanding how to make the most out of your social media can be a tricky task for a business owner. In an increasingly competitive digital landscape, the right kind of social media is what sets you apart from your competitors.
Are you reaching enough people, are you reaching the right people? Is your sponsored content optimised? Is your organic content landing with existing followers while pulling in new ones?
In short, are you getting the return on investment (ROI) you need from your social media channels?
An introduction to analytics
The answers to these questions, and more, can all be found in the various means of social media analytics.
Now, managing day-t0-day social media is one job. But analysing the performance and outcomes on a regular basis requires expert insight to understand performance. That is why many businesses choose to outsource their social activity as part of a PR brief.
A great agency will keep your channels filled with timely, consistent and engaging content. They’ll have the means and the knowledge to dig deep into those posts, separating the wheat from the chaff. They can analyse and prove the ROI that good social media activity can bring.
But analytics are as wide and varied as the channels they serve.
The role of social media in modern comms
Social media changed the way we do business as it fundamentally altered the way a business could communicate with its audience. But during the early days, there was no way of really proving the worth of content, beyond the likes and comments.
As social media channels became more sophisticated and businesses realised that there was an opportunity to be found in the marketing landscape. The means of social media monitoring and social media analysis became much more prevalent.
Third-party software was created, which would plug into accounts and provide valuable insights, allowing businesses to track social media campaigns.
Now, an agency or social media marketer has a wealth of plugins and options at their fingertips. As well as a number of proprietary social analytics tools built into channels themselves.
Why are social media analytics important?
The importance of social media analytics cannot be understated. A barrage of social media data can overwhelming. Working with people who can analyse, understand and react to this data is crucial for business success.
It’s now so much more than simply how many likes did a post get? Or, how many comments did we get? Of course, likes and comments are still very important and are great at face value. But there’s a lot more to it.
Essentially, social media analytics allow you to monitor your brand on social to understand how your target audience perceives your business and content.
Reach / engagement / impressions
The three core measurable metrics, which you may have heard mentioned before are Reach, Engagement and Impressions.
A metric that refers to the number of social media users who have come across a particular piece of content on any given social media platform.
Often mixed up with reach, but they should not be confused as the same thing. Impressions are the number of times your content has been displayed, whether it was clicked on or not.
This is the measurement of actual activity, such as comments, likes, and shares. These are the tangible actions people take on your social media content.
Seeing the bigger picture
Understanding what these terms are, the purpose each serves and how they play off each other is very important. Simply measuring one or two of these, or monitoring only the metrics you care about, is not the best practice.
You need to have oversight of the entire landscape in order to maximise social media analytics.
Think of impressions as our potential audience, reach as our number of unique users, and engagement as those who have acted upon or engaged with a specific piece of content. We begin to see a more holistic picture of how social media is performing as a top to mid-funnel marketing tool.
Looking beyond reach
Taking a moment to move beyond reach and impressions, it’s important to recognise that social media does not serve the sole purpose of being a sales and marketing funnel driver. Social media is, at its very heart, a social community.
There is a whole set-section of social media analysis dedicated entirely to the tracking of sentiment.
Sentiment is one of the most important measurements any business can make use of. Because it tells you how people feel about your brand.
This goes beyond a count of comments, likes and reach and takes emotional reaction into account. This is becoming an increasingly important tool in the comms arsenal, particularly as part of only reputation management services.
In brand-building, sentiment is important. There are some automated sentiment analytics tools available that employ natural language processing to analyse conversations. But here lies the difficulty.
The reason why sentiment analysis is difficult is that it all requires context and relativity, in order to fully understand consumer sentiment.
Yes, you can let a tool do the legwork for you, but it is far more effective, albeit more time consuming, for this to be gauged by the human eye.
Analytics tools… third party
There is a wealth of tools and plugins available that plug into social media platforms and provide this all-important analysis. Choose your new favourite social analytics tool from the list below.
Hootsuite and ContentCal
These are perhaps some of the most commonly known and utilised tools available. As a social analytics tools, they both operate in similar ways. They act as third party plugins, linking to your social media accounts and offering the capability to both schedule and analyse content.
The ability to schedule aside, the analysis functions across multiple platforms provide PRs and the businesses incredibly valuable, real-time audience insights.
As well as this, it has at a glance insight. They also offer the means of creating in-depth and detailed reporting tools. The ability to create reports, spanning significant periods of time so that you can truly delve in content performance.
Analytics tools… proprietary
In addition to third party services, social channels themselves each offer their own in-built social media analytics tools.
Meta, aka Facebook and Instagram, offers its users with business accounts access to its Business Suite.
Recent changes to Facebook’s functionality have seen more of its built-in analytics capabilities removed from the main feed of a page, and pulled into this suite. Meta, more so than any other channel, is placing huge efforts in pulling users into using their owned social media analytics tools.
Tweetdeck is Twitter’s built-in scheduling and analytics tool. Like Meta, it too is competing with third-party providers to pull users into its own services.
LinkedIn’s page admin functions also offer a built-in means of tracking social media analytics.
Benefits of centralisation
If Meta, Twitter and LinkedIn all offer built-in free analytics functions, why even bother paying for a third-party provider?
Well, it’s a question of time-saving. Just to have all your social media networks plugged into one network, which provides oversight across the board is a huge time saver. Third-party providers can offer centralised distribution of content. It allows users to post to multiple channels while monitoring real-time responses. ’
While not expressly a ‘social media analytics tool’ or a social media management platform, Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool, that should not be ignored.
It can be utilised to enhance your social media performance, align your social media marketing and SEO and generally gauge a much richer understanding of your online presence.
In a nutshell, Google Analytics, or GA, gives users an extremely in-depth look at their website. It integrates data from across Google’s suite of tools, including marketing and advertising and SEO.
With this, businesses then have the capability to see how their social media marketing is directly benefiting both site traffic and web presence, as well as tracking the origins of purchases and direct customer to business interactions.
Taking a joined-up approach
Taking a joined-up approach to a business’s social media analytics is essential. By incorporating the powerful analytics tool that is GA, businesses can really begin to see the benefits that their social media traffic and social media marketing are having on their business.
But in order to really understand the sheer amount of social data on offer, and maximise it to its full potential, requires a level of specialist knowledge.
This is where the PR agency comes into effect.
How can PR help drive growth?
PR will have at its disposal social media analytics tools and a team of seasoned experts across content creation and analysis.
So when given the remit to do so, a PR partner can act strategically, looking into your historical data, to create the best possible social media strategy for your business moving forward.
They can then use the tools and skills they possess to enact this strategy to maximum effect. But a really good PR agency, won’t just stop there. They will constantly monitor the data, react to underperforming content, identify what is working and adjust strategies accordingly.
Of course, businesses can look to in-house this function, but a social media analytics tool is nothing more than a tool.
Like anything in business, these specialist tools when placed in the right hands can be used to dramatic effect.
The role of the modern PR agency
PR’s remit has expanded in recent years, and its roles and responsibilities have grown beyond the old analogue means of achieving PR value (by this we mean traditional print and broadcast media opportunities).
Now the role of PR serves an ever-increasingly digital one.
The relationship between PR and clients should be more than just a service provider. A fully optimised PR client relationship is one of fully-fledged strategic oversight, the kind of specialist skills and knowledge that a great PR agency can bring to a business, should never be underestimated.
PRs are more than just service providers, they are fully-fledged strategic partners, bringing specific knowledge and skills that are pivotal to business growth.