Does Social Media Marketing Work? A Basic Guide to Learning From Your Data

Word of mouth can attract good customers. That’s one hope behind social media activity for business.  But how do you know which tasks are worth your time and effort? How can you focus on just the marketing that delivers, without swamping yourself in work? And what benefits can you expect?

A surprising 60% of small businesses could not track the value of their social media activities in 2016, says Hubspot.

Studies also show that the less companies know about their most important performance measures (key performance indicators), the less likely they were to meet their revenue goals. Almost 3 in 4 companies who failed to pass their revenue goals also didn’t know their visitor, lead, marketing-qualified leads, or sales opportunities. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

Effective social media marketing depends on how well you can focus on the goals that matter. That focus sharpens as you learn from experience, and learn from data.

Learning from social media data is do-able! Data show you which efforts bring about the change you want. As your systems track interactions over time, you can see what engages people. When you can align your work with what matters to your readers, it’s exciting to see results.

Start With a Goal

Do you really need a goal? Goal setting may seem onerous and tedious. You may even think it’s unnecessary if you answer to only yourself. But, having a goal helps keep things simple, cut wasted effort, and allows you to target just the activities that matter.

And having a goal helps you learn what changes are getting you somewhere.

What kind of focus does it take to set the most helpful goals? It starts with translating wishes into actions with outcomes you can measure. To see progress in your business you need to see movement toward a goal.

Turning Wishes Into Goals

Wishes are a good starting point to find goals to help you succeed in your marketing. Here are some examples of wishes turned into goals and marketing activities:

  • You may wish more people knew about your existence.
    Goal: Maybe you’d like more followers on your social media channels.
    Marketing activity: Find several helpful articles on topics your readers care about. Choose your own work or content other sources. Schedule one per day to post to your social media pages — your personal page and your business page.

 

  • Wish: You had more customers.
    Goal: You want to get more website traffic.
    Marketing Activity: Create a helpful piece of content, and use social media to promote links to the piece on your website. Email your friends, to ask if they’ll help you to share it.

 

  • Wish: You want to more easily target the people who care most about what you do.
    Goal: Get more subscribers to opt into your newsletter.
    Marketing Activity: Add more calls-to-action on your web content, and edit them so they offer a powerful benefit to your target subscriber.

 

Use the Data that Matters

Now the next step is to find data in the systems you are using, so you can see if that marketing activity is a good one for your goal.

It may take some time to get comfortable using data.

So here is a helpful guide to a few numbers.

Twitter analytics:

Go to https://analytics.twitter.com and login with your Twitter username and password.

Explore the menu links at the top. If your goal is to extend your reach, look for monthly trends in these measures below.

You can compare months by changing calendar dates:

view tweet impressions

Tweet impressions

Impressions are possible views, not actual views. It helps you see distribution. It counts the streams that contained your tweet (according to Twitter’s analytics provider, Union Metrics). Impressions is not your number of readers – it’s a measure of your potential audience.

You’ll see that some tweets will get into more streams than others. It’s a measure of overall exposure, rather than impact. And it’s used to figure out other measures, like engagement rate. If it’s impact you want, see tweet engagement and engagement rate next.

Tweet Engagement

Engagement counts your readers’ interactions with your tweets, such as likes, retweets, or clicks anywhere on the tweet as on the hashtag or link. Look for this data at your user account /tweets: analytics.twitter.com/user/yourusername/tweets. Or pick “tweets” from the main menu at analytics.twitter.com.  It’s one measure of your impact on readers – they took action on your post.

Engagement rate measures what matters to readers. It’s a percent of actions divided by impressions. What percent of possible viewers actually saw and did something with the tweet?

You can see engagement for individual tweets, and follow trends by comparing monthly averages:

tweet engagement analytics

Followers 

Your followers are all the people subscribed to your tweet feed. A follower sees your tweets on their home page. Anything you post will be in their Home stream of new updates when they check Twitter.

New tweets push old tweets down the stream and farther out of view. That is why it is important to post fresh tweets often if you want to nurture your following.

 

Facebook Analytics

You need a Facebook Page for your business to get data you can use. Personal Facebook pages don’t have the Insights feature you need.

Go to https://facebook.com/yourpagename to access information about your Facebook visitors.

Click on “Insights” – a link at the top of your Facebook business page.

how to see facebook analytics

Reach

This counts how many people could have seen any of your business posts, somewhere on Facebook. It tells you how your activity is doing overall in getting your posts in front of other Facebook users. Look for monthly trends up to see if your posts are expanding your reach.

Reach doesn’t tell you which post got the most views. To see which posts had impact, see post engagements below.

Page View

This counts who came to your page to see any part of it. It’s one measure of engagement — how many people come to learn more about your business from your Facebook business page.

Post Engagements

Facebook post engagements measure the total clicks on your posts, when readers like or share them. As a total, it reflects how interesting and helpful people find your updates. An upward trend over time means your posts are more often hitting on what matters to your audience, and they are helping widen your reach on Facebook.

Want to see which posts engaged most people? First, scroll down to “Your 5 Most Recent Posts” and click “See All Posts” at the bottom of this chart. Then you can click on the headings in this chart to bring the most engaging posts to the top.

see your most engaging facebook posts

YouTube Analytics

If you post videos to YouTube, you have access to analytics.

There are a few ways to get to your analytics page. (Log into your Google account first of course.)

An easy way to view your data is to go to Youtube.com, then click “Creator Studio” to get to the dashboard and your data.

how to see youtube data

Another way is view your YouTube channel home page.

Look for a small graphic at the top of your channel, showing a total number of views. That’s also a link to your analytics page.

see youtube analytics

 

On your analytics page you’ll see an overview that shows you how people interact with your videos.

Watch Time

Watch time is a running total of the minutes your videos have played  on any viewer’s device. One viewer re-watching counts the same as time spent watching by different viewers. If you want to measure your impact and engagement, you want to see this number grow over time, rather than stagnate.

Average view duration

View duration shows how engaging your video is. Are people watching to the end? If this number is going up, more people are staying with you longer before they leave to view something else.

Subscribers

If you want to build and reach an audience through YouTube, you’ll want this number to grow.

There is much more data to see, and more to learn. These basics can help you quickly see what makes your target audience tick.

Now You Can Track Your Social Media Impact! What’s Next?

Your social life online helps people discover you. You can tap into your social media audience can help your business grow. The main benefits of social media for your business are reach and insights into your audience’s attention.

You can use your social media activity to pursue your other goals. For example, to bring visitors to your website.

But social media results are only one part of a good marketing strategy.  Use it as a tool to build your customer base. However, your social media following itself is not your customer base. They are customers of the social media service.  To get the most value from building a social media following, invite your social circle to join your service, program or email list.

Your social media audience has many distractions on sites like Facebook and YouTube. That’s why it’s one tool among others you’ll need.  A strong social media following can help you study your market’s interests, find like-minded colleagues, and interact with potential customers in ways that benefit you the best.

Make Your Earned Audience Your Own Audience

So, how can you best engage these followers instead of watch them go off somewhere else? Give your social media fans a way to opt into your own resource, such as your mailing list. There you can build your relationship and add more value to their experience on a distraction free channel. Turn earned media (on social sites) into owned media — on a channel you control, that is unique to you.

Having goals and tracking progress helps you focus your efforts on what is working to grow your business. Focused effort is key to success that fuels itself.

Update your channels now.  Did this help you? Please share this post, and (bonus) say whether you agree or disagree!

 

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