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Basics of Social Media Marketing Analytics Tools

One of the most common questions asked in social media marketing is, “What’s the best tool for analyzing and reporting your social media marketing?

This is a sensible question; after all, if you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it. That’s business common sense 101. So, the next logical question is, what outcome are you measuring?

If you intend for social media to generate awareness, there are specific tools that measure that, such as branded organic search and tools like Google Search Console.

If you intend for social media to generate engagement, there are specific tools that measure that, such as website traffic (especially returning users) and tools like Google Analytics.

If you intend for social media to generate leads or sales, there are specific tools that measure that, such as, well, leads or sales as measured in your marketing automation and CRM software.

But wait, you ask. None of these are social media measurement tools! And you’re correct – not a single mention above of outstanding tools like Talkwalker. Why not? Because traditional social media measurement tools measure the activity of social media, not the outcome. More engagement, more followers, more conversations and mentions are all important measurements to understand what’s working for you on social media, but these are not business outcomes.

Ask yourself this: what outcomes are you measured on? What numbers do you get a bonus for, or dinged on your performance review for? For a fair number of marketing managers and executives, outcomes like brand strength, lead generation, e-commerce revenue, etc. are the tangible outcomes our businesses want us to generate. It isn’t the number of followers we accrued.

So, what’s the first step in building effective social media marketing analytics? Having clear measurement of what’s working, usually through an attribution tool of some kind. Here’s an example:

Google Analytics Attribution

What we see here are the different digital marketing channels that drive conversions on my website, using Google Analytics data and a custom attribution model I built. For me, I care about lead generation, so a lead-focused attribution model is my preferred tool. If I was analyzing engagement, I’d use a different model.

When we look at social media marketing with this model, I see Twitter as my top driver, followed by LinkedIn. Knowing this, I can now investigate those channels and use social media monitoring tools to better understand what I’m doing on those specific channels that’s working, what kinds of content, who I’m engaging with, etc.

This is the essence of social media marketing analytics. Focus on the outcome you are expected to generate, and dig deep into what drives that outcome. Once you understand that, you’ll be much better positioned to focus further analysis and make decisions about what’s really working in social media marketing for you.

Disclosure: This post is a complete rewrite of an old 2015 post that has long since outlived its usefulness.

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