Analyze This

social-analyticsAs more and more businesses turn to social media to reach consumers, it’s inevitable that they’ll want to be able to track how well strategies are working. Moving beyond page likes or the number of followers, businesses need to take a serious look at social analytics. There are a ton of platforms out there, so it’s best to do some research and learn which ones will best serve your business. Here are three social media analytics tools I find helpful.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is mainly known as a social media management tool or dashboard, but within Hootsuite are analytics. If your business has more than one social network (which it should), I would suggest using Hootsuite from a management perspective. When it comes to analytics, Hootsuite allows you to create customized reports for all your social networks. It provides for a comprehensive picture of who is visiting your networks and which posts are performing well. I’ve included some screen shots below from my employer, Carilion Clinic’s analytics. These reports allow you to see which days and posts performed the best.

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Besides posts, the reports also allow you to track your fan or follower growth. This is helpful if you are trying to track whether engagement rose during a specific campaign or during targeted posts.

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The Twitter report also provides you with a list of the “Most Popular Links.” This information is helpful in tracking whether your business should continue posting certain links or about certain topics.

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Hootsuite is free for up to five accounts, after that you need to sign up for a Pro account, which also provides for more detailed reports. A Pro account will run about $10/month.

KloutScreen Shot 2013-10-13 at 8.27.45 PM

Klout measures a user’s influence across a range of social networks. The score, 1 through 100, is based on how many people interact with your posts and will go up and down depending on your social media activity. It provides a +K feature, where others can endorse your influence and also boost your ranking. Graphs can show how your score has changed over time (90-day increments), as well as, show which sites your influence comes from.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is aimed more toward businesses rather than individual users. It enables you to analyze followers by various demographic measures and can help you determine the best times to post on social media profiles. It also has the ability to monitor keywords across all social media. After a free trial, it costs approximately $39/month.

There are tons of other social media analytics tools you can use, including:

13 Social Media Software Tools for Marketing Your Company or Clients

Best Social Media Analytics Tools: 8 of the Best to Use

Link Tracking

Another aspect of monitoring your social media analytics is tracking links. We post links in our social media posts because we are trying to engage with our audience and maybe attract new consumers, right? So, we should probably keep track of where people are clicking on these links and which links are simply, the best. By knowing what traffic is generated for a specific link we can determine how popular the link is and which channel is most effective for your links.

  • For Twitter, Tweeterspy is a great way to track “influencers” who are users that are sharing your links. Tweeterspy not only allows you to track who has shared your link, but also how many times someone then clicked on your link that was shared.
  • Google has a URL builder, which after filling out a short form can provide you with a personalized, shortened url that is tracked.
  • Oktopost is a service integrated with Google Analytics that automatically adds tracking codes to links.
  •  Bit.ly, a url shortener, allows for tracking. You can see which links were clicked on and then who shared those links.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

While there are a lot of tools out there, and a lot of things to consider when talking about social media analytics, the important thing to remember is not to get overwhelmed. Determine what your business wants or needs to track when it comes to social media and then determine which tool will work best for you and your budget.

Here’s an interesting case study that may help put social media analytics into perspective.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What does your company track when it comes to social media engagement? Is the focus on general numbers (i.e. likes and followers) or do you have specific targets when it comes to engagement?
  2. Which tool do you find the best when it comes to bang for your buck? Do free services make the cut? Or should you budget for a monthly service?
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9 thoughts on “Analyze This

  1. Very informative post! I work the TV aspect of my company but from what I have observed we are focused on gaining followers when we have a social media campaign. For instance, we just reach a million followers on Facebook last week and had a big flash party to celebrate! Now that we’ve reached this company milestone we will probably start to focus more on impressions we make.

    In my opinon I think some free services can do a good job. I’ve relied on bit.ly to post many of my links this semester and I think it’s done an exceptional job of tracking engagement. I think it depends on how invested a company is in their social media that can help them determine whether or not to pay for an analytics service. Personally, I’m ok with free! =)

  2. I’m not working as a sm professional right now, but I did just sign up for Hootsuite and Klout. I’m diving in!! And yes, it is overwhelming. I think that since I’m looking to learn a little more about my class blog and personal social media accounts I’m not planning to use any paid-for service. I’m going to see what I can get out of the free version of Hootsuite first, then assess. I’m not sure if I’ll get any good analytics with the free version though because I don’t have a lot of data. Do you use the free version?

    • Blythe, you’ll be a Hootsuite expert in no time! My company currently uses the free version and we find its suitable. I think maybe down the road we’ll upgrade, but I think free versions are fine for most, even if you have to use two or three services for all the reports.

  3. Great post and great questions! Right now, our company tracks the basics such as follower/like growth (and unfollow/unlike when applicable), number of posts, like/retweets/+1s, comments/mentions and click-throughs specifically from our links as well as referrals from social as a whole. We don’t currently have targets (other than just “get better!”), but I would like to develop some concrete goals for our accounts. I love using Hootsuite for work accounts (although it’s had several hiccups lately with the ow.ly shortener and the dashboard loading). I also use Hootsuite to manage my personal accounts — mainly Twitter. Company accounts aside, if I were just updating my own accounts, I would definitely stick to the free services.

  4. Hey Laura, Nice post! There are many free tools available that can help a majority of people. The problem with free services is that that rarely cover everything you need. So instead of paying for one service, you end up using about 4 or 5 free services. It’s a pain…but it is free. It’s important to set-up your goals first, otherwise you could be wasting your money on software you don’t need! Larger businesses will obviously want to pay for higher end software because they will have more profiles, fans, and chatter about their business. But like I said, a majority of businesses can benefit from free services.

  5. Great job!

    My current company uses HootSuite and Google Analytics, they use the numbers to track interest in graphics, photos and clicks. Working in sports is interesting because you’re not exactly advertising a product as much as an event. So part of our analysis is if people are showing up? Mind you, it’s hard to connect butts in seats directly to social media.

    I think for a small personal brand, the free tools are enough. For companies, I think the more information you have, the better. While you might not end up needing it, budgeting it in can’t hurt.

    • Thanks for the comment Casey. It’s similar to sports in healthcare, in a sense, to know if people come to events, screenings, or our physicians because of our advertising or if it’s from more word-of-mouth. Since much of social is a form of word-of-mouth, we invest a lot of time to trying to reach the broadest audience.

      And you’re right it never hurts to budget for a paid service. Most seem pretty reasonable and I’m sure would help with any specific analytics request.

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