Written by Rose Souders
Editor’s note: This blog was updated on November 28, 2020.
You’ve developed your social media strategy and begun implementing it, but are your efforts actually producing results? It’s time to talk about social media reporting. We know that most people hate the analytics side of social media marketing, but social media reporting is an essential part (maybe the most important!) if you intend to use social media as a tool to hit your marketing goals. Analytics and numbers are our bread and butter, so we’re going to walk you through it so the task feels a bit more approachable.
Social media reporting should be done at least every month
As we mentioned in our How to Efficiently Manage Your Social Media in 1 Hour a Day blog, you need to check your numbers at least once a month to make sure that you’re not wasting your time doing things that aren’t working, or worse, publishing content that is totally throwing off your online community. Yes, your strategy and social media efforts are more than just sell sell sell, but let’s be real, you’re a business with revenue goals. You need to pay attention to the return on your investment, both time and ad spend.
Basic metrics you need to know to match your goals
If you used our plan of action for creating a results-driven social media strategy, then you’ve already set some goals that indicate how much revenue you want to make from social media, how much web traffic that takes, and also how many people need to see your content for that to happen. Let’s go over the basic metrics you need to understand in order to check your progress with your goals.
Reach vs Impressions
- Reach = the number of people who have seen your content (or anything associated with your page, depending on how you pull your data)
- Impressions = the number of times your content has been seen (or anything associated with your page, again, depending on how you pull your data)
If you’ve set your goal to have your content be seen by over 20,000 people, like in our social media strategy blog example, then reach is the metric you’re looking to pull and compare with that goal.
Website Metrics from Google Analytics
While we’re talking about social media here, Google Analytics and your website metrics are going to play a big role in making sure that your social media efforts are effective. In most cases, your website is where most of your sales, subscribes, and conversions will occur. In a way, it is the finish line in your social media marketing and contains some of the most important insights. Here are some of the basic metrics you’ll want to make sure you understand when looking at your website analytics.
- Users = the (number of) people who visit your site
- Sessions = the number of site visits on your website
- Bounce Rate = the percentage of people who visit your site, look at only one page, then leave your site.
A high bounce rate is not a good thing. This means that for some reason, people aren’t interested in clicking through different pages of your site and are likely not buying or converting into customers. A high bounce rate can be explained by all sorts of things, but some of the most common reasons are – your website experience isn’t enjoyable for the visitor (i.e. slow or not easy to use), the landing page they clicked to wasn’t what they thought it was or is not relevant to them, or maybe they didn’t have an incentive to visit more pages. The lower the bounce rate, the better. This means that people are interested, stay on your site, and click to different pages to learn more about your offerings and expertise.
How to get your social media metrics straight from the source
Social media analytics software is handy and serves many purposes like efficient reporting, automated reports, and data visualizations. However, if you want to get granular with your data, answer detailed questions about your efforts, or keep an archive of your data, you’ll want to pull your analytics straights from the source – Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, etc.
In June 2017, Facebook released a heap of new metrics in their Facebook Insights section. They basically doubled the information you can get straight from their internal analytics system, which is called Facebook Insights. A Page Admin can access this section by going to the page, then clicking on “Insights” at the top menu.
When you’re in the Insights section, you can use their overview area to get a glance at how you’re doing and even to scroll down and compare your efforts to your competitors. If you haven’t dabbled in this competitor’s “Pages to Watch” section, we highly recommend it. It’s interesting to see not only your growth but the growth of other pages as well.
The other useful section is the “Posts” area, which you can find in the left Insights menu. Here you can see when your fans are online (i.e. optimal times to publish your content), how your published posts performed, and even an overview of posts that performed best on the pages you’re watching. It’s important to know which is your posts are performing best so that when you go and create your editorial calendar for the upcoming month, you’re fine-tuning your process and using content you know that is producing results.
Pull Your Exact Numbers from Facebook’s Data Export
While the Insights Overview section is nice, if you’re really trying to get down to the bottom of your numbers and progress, you’ll need to download the actual data from Facebook to see the specifics. You can get to this “Export Insights Data” section by going to the Overview tab in Insights, then in the top right, clicking “Export Data”. This area will become your best friend. Cue spreadsheets.
When you click on Export Data, a box is going to pull up where you can select exactly what you want to download and from which date range. Page data will give you a day to day look at your account’s total visibility, engagements, and follower growth. If you want to see how your actual content is doing, then you’ll want to download Post data, which gives you a breakdown of specific metrics on each post during the Date Range you selected.
Pro-Tip: If you download all of Facebook’s page data, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed by everything that’s there. Rather than downloading everything, select the drop-down menu where it says “Layout”, then select “Make New Custom Layout” to choose EXACTLY which metrics you want to download. Save this layout when you’re done and you can use it for later use, each time you are ready to pull your monthly analytics.
While some may think otherwise, Twitter is most certainly not dead! For some of our clients, this is their most effective outlet for driving web traffic to their site. Unlike Facebook’s robust Insights platform, Twitter’s is a lot simpler.
You can access your Twitter analytics by logging in to Twitter, clicking on your profile icon in the top right, then clicking on “Analytics”.
Twitter’s Analytics area is nice and easy. From the Analytics home page, you can view a snapshot of your top tweets and account summary. Moving over the Tweets section (by clicking on “Tweets” at the top of the screen), you can select the date range you want to look at, then view your tweets and corresponding metrics. To download your metrics, you’ll need to set your date range, then click the “Export Data” button on the top right of the page. Voila! Easy as that.
Pro-Tip (as of May 2018): This year Twitter is getting rid of tons of fake accounts and bots. Don’t be alarmed if you see a drop in your follower count. If your other metrics are up, you’re good.
Unfortunately, Instagram’s “Insights” hasn’t quite lived up to Facebook standards. The app’s native Insights analytics (only on the mobile app) section is awful. Rather than complaining about it for 37 lines, which we could, we’ll just say that you can find it in the app by going to your profile, then clicking on the 3 lines at the top right of your screen, then clicking on “Insights” in the menu that pops up. Their insights section does not allow you to download your data and even worse, only give you basic information about the past 7 days or 30 days. The 30-day allotment is a brand new thing as of Fall 2020.
If you’re looking for detailed information on how your Instagram efforts are going, you’ll need to use a third-party system like Agorapulse, Iconosquare, etc to pull your metrics and/or download them. Both of these options allow you to export your data. There are many scheduling and social media softwares out there to choose from.
Pro-tip: If you’re interested in working with raw data, make sure that before you commit to an Instagram software, be sure to check out what their data exports look like. Some software companies promote their “reporting” features, but the data they actually provide isn’t any more helpful than Instagram’s native reporting. Do your homework first before making a decision.
This year (Hey, 2020!), LinkedIn stepped their Analytics game up. Their data export used to be just some basic impressions and follower data, but with the new update, you can now export data in detail! There are three different types of data sets and exports as of November 2020. Here’s how you find them and what they give you:
To find the data and exports, go to your LinkedIn page, then click on “Analytics” on the top page menu bar.
Here’s a breakdown of each data section and export:
- Visitors – shows you your LinkedIn page’s total visibility, the location of where people are viewing your page from, their job function, seniority level, industry, and company size. This is useful for audience targeting!
- Updates – shows you how your content is performing and gives you impressions and engagements on each post. This is useful to see what content is resonating with your audience.
- Followers – a new feature that shows you your follower growth by day and also provides information about your followers. This information will look similar to your “Visitors” data, but the difference is that this one is specifically for your followers and not just people seeing your content or page.
You can export all of these data reports in an excel file by clicking on the “Export” button on the top right of any of the three data pages listed above.
Use Google Analytics to track your web traffic from social
Google Analytics is a must if any of your goals require someone to purchase, book, or sign up for an email list on your website. Make sure that the platform is connected to your website, even if you don’t have the time to use it in full. You cannot get retroactive data from Google Analytics, so installing it sooner than later is important so that when you’re ready to take a look or hire a marketing firm, there is data to review and make informed decisions based on.
If you’re planning on checking just the basics in Google Analytics, then you’re probably going spend more of your time in the “Acquisition” section, which can be found in the left menu bar. You’ll want to click on “Channels” to find the main sources of your web traffic, including social media. In this Channels section, you’ll find the following sources listed (and maybe a few more):
- Organic Search = traffic from search engines like Google (unpaid)
- Direct = This could be quite a few things, but for now, let’s point out the main items – people typing in your URL directly, links from non-web documents, and our personal favorite, “Dark Social“. More on dark social later.
- Referral – traffic from someone else’s website to yours
- Social – traffic from social media platforms (not including dark social)
If you click on the Social traffic in the Channels area, you can get a breakdown of which platforms are providing you with the most web sessions and use this information to make decisions on where your energy should go and which platforms to decrease or increase content.
If you have an eCommerce site (a site where people buy things online directly from your site) and you have Google Analytics connected correctly, then you should also be able to see the revenue from each social media platform, if any. Useful!
How to log your metrics and compare them to your goals
Obtaining your numbers is half the battle when it comes to social media reporting. Once you have them, you need to make sure that you’re logging them somewhere and checking your progress in relation to the goals you’ve set, every month. This can be a daunting task, especially for those who hate spreadsheets.
If you’re into data collection and want to live in the spreadsheet world (yas!), then I recommend:
- Using Google Sheets and Google Data Studio – GDS is free and once you get the hang of it, you can easily add your exported data to Google Sheets, then use Google Data Studio to display that data into charts that will help you analyze how your social media efforts are going each month. The charts will update when you add data to your sheets. Pro-tip: If design isn’t really your thing (mine either), then you can peruse through the Data Studio marketing templates that others have creatives and use them with your own data!
- Using Microsoft Excel – even though I’m a GDS fan, I’m not a Google Sheets fan. When I need to take a look at raw data and sort/filter, I still use good ‘ole Excel and its many features, especially Pivot Tables. You can keep your data exports in Google Sheets, then when you do need to poke around the raw data, you can export to Excel and tinker without messing up your main data archive in Google Sheets.
For each project we work on, we have a goals document that is set, usually for 6 month periods. Every month we compare our data exports, charts, and analysis to our goals and make adjustments to our strategy as needed to improve. You’ll want to do the same. Since social media is very time consuming and can be a hefty investment, you don’t want to do your social media reporting any less than once a month. A once a month report keeps you efficient, but also allows you to catch anything you might need to change quickly.
Final things to log on your monthly report
Aside from just the analytics, there are few things you’ll want to keep your eyes out for and log to provide context in your report and help you adjust your strategy moving forward. Give these things a once over, a human eye.
- Posts that performed well and stood out among the pack – critically think about what made this post different than the rest and try to replicate the scenario for future content.
- Days where web traffic spiked – use that “Channels” section in Google Analytics to determine what the source of your traffic spike was. You can easily do this by setting the date range to slightly before and after where the spike happens to zero in on the source.
- Social platforms that are performing the best – when you’re checking your social media metrics, make sure to take a step back and examine which platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) are actually performing the best and actually contributing to your goals. If some of the outlets are not working and you’ve given them a good shot, it may be time to retire the account and invest your time and money into the areas that are working.
Be open to surprises! Because you’re monitoring your numbers closely, you’ll likely start to see a number of insights that you weren’t noticing before.
You did it!
You made it through the process that many people despise. My best advice to you is, stay smart. Use your analytics insights to adjust your strategy every month, if necessary, to fine-tune your content and improve your results. Once you add social media reporting into your regular workflow, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start checking these numbers in the first place!
If you run into any social media reporting issues, leave us a comment below or shoot us a message and we can help. Good luck to you, my friend! Happy Reporting!
If you’re looking for more resources, try this shortlist of relevant blogs for assistance + subscribe to the Potluck Consulting newsletter to get our resource emails. Click the blue “Newsletter” tab at the bottom of your screen.