Analytics: When To Pay Attention To The Numbers & When To Trash Them
One reason I appreciate social media a bit more than traditional public relations is because with social, you have numbers that can be tracked and connected to your hard work unlike PR which can be powerful of course but elusive in terms of being always trackable. Likes, updates, tweets, followers, shares, comments, pins, hashtag usage and more are all ways to show that you are making progress (or not) with your social media but what numbers do you track and do you ever not pay attention to the numbers? Good questions!
Let’s begin with what numbers you track. Within Facebook Pages alone, for example, you can download insights and literally look at thousands of numbers presented in multiple ways much like google analytics so before you try to assess and report, go back to asking yourself these basic questions because once you have your answers, it should be relatively easy to pinpoint what numbers will be the most meaningful:
1. What are my long term goals for my brand?
2. What are my short term goals for the brand?
3. Who am I trying to reach?
4. Am I linking the above to my social media efforts?
If your long term goal for your brand’s online approach is to continue increasing brand exposure and your short term goal is to roll out a new product to present and new like-minded customers, then simply tracking how many more likes and follows you are receiving as well as comments and shares on Facebook, responses or retweets on Twitter, repins on Pinterest, likes/comments on Instagram as well as hashtag usage on all networks will tell you if you are on the right track or not.
But what if your long term goal slightly varies in that you still want to increase brand exposure and you still want to roll out a new product but you want to reach a completely new customer….a new demographic? This is where the numbers game gets tricky and where an experienced social media strategist brings value. Let me give you an example. An eco-brand we worked with had a core group of customers that were 100% engaged in a sustainable lifestyle but the brand wanted to increase exposure (and sales) by also reaching out to a more “everyday” person…someone who considered an eco-lifestyle valuable but didn’t live by it all of the time. We did many things to appeal to and bring on this new demo and I knew we found success by the kind of comments we began to receive especially on Facebook. These new followers, as they engaged with the brand, shared bits and pieces of their lifestyle which gave us hints that we had reached this new consumer. The numbers didn’t pick this up initially and some of the older followers started to fall off a bit which happens when you slightly vary your marketing approach so as we brought on the new followers the actual likes on the Facebook page deceivingly stayed the same when looking at the number showcased on the actual page. To the naked eye, we had not gained ground and might very well have been losing traction but close human observation told us otherwise so we stayed our ground and continued to move forward in this new direction of appealing to the general consumer which eventually revealed itself through the best numbers of all, increased sales.
So to answer both of the questions from above, for sure keep tracking your numbers for every social channel you participate in but don’t forget to use your listening skills and include your own observations when pulling together your final reports because it’s the combination of the two that help you track trends and achieve long term brand goals.
-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts
(image from Flickr via @laineysrepertoire)