Step 5: Getting under the skin of social media analytics

It's important to monitor and understand the outputs, the trends and the gaps in your activity.

Anyone managing a social media account should know the account metrics inside out because while the numbers are ‘outputs' rather than ‘outcomes' they do tell a story about how the account is performing and where you should focus your attention, your resources and where you should make changes.

The analytics in many social media platforms can now provide us with useful insights and data plus there are a range of tools – many of them free to use – which can help with this important review activity.

Metrics you should know and understand about the accounts you manage

  • Your ‘total' likes/followers/subscribers
  • Your ‘average' new likes/followers/subscribers per month (are they increasing or decreasing?)
  • Your monthly reach – how many people have the potential to see your messages? Have a look for the past 12-months – is the trend upwards?
  • Your engagement rates – how many people engage with your messages (remember, an engagement might be a share, a retweet, a follow, a like, sharing a link, a question or a comment)
  • Your most engaging content – which messages perform best?
  • How many conversations or questions are you receiving per post, per week? It's important to ensure that your posts are not too ‘broadcast' so this is a good measure
  • Your highest performing piece of media each month (e.g. is it a poll, an image, a gif or a video – which pieces of content performed best in the past month? This can inform what you share in the future)
  • The times of the day when your followers or likers are most active (for Facebook this is often around 9pm so you need to think about how you can be present to take advantage of this and schedule messages for this time) Facebook Insights will show you this data, Followerwonk will do the same for Twitter
  • For Twitter - How many people visit your profile page each month? Is it increasing?
  • Who are your most influential followers? (TweetBinder is good for this for Twitter and Instagram and free to use for a 7-day report for below 2k tweets)
  • Which of your followers have unfollowed you or have been inactive for a long period, as well as which people you follow but do not follow you back (Tweepsmap is useful for this, and also provides geographic data on your followers)

Instagram Insights (only available for business accounts) is another useful addition to the range of places we can access free analytics for social media accounts. An Instagram business account is well worth considering for this new analytics feature – to access it you'll be required to sign up via your Facebook page (this is because Facebook owns Instagram)

There are a couple of other useful resources for gaining insights and data from your Instagram set out in this post from Social Media Today.