You’ve spent countless hours strategizing and executing on your social media campaign. Now that it’s reached its conclusion, you need to determine whether it was successful or not. If you don’t, you risk wasting resources pushing out the same messaging that isn’t resonating. So how do you know if it worked? Reporting is a common challenge for many enterprise teams that requires constant work and iteration. While the method may vary, one thing is for certain: trusting your gut isn’t the way to go. It’s the cardinal rule of social media.
In order to understand where you’re at and build a roadmap to where you want to go, you have to listen to the metrics. The data will tell you what’s working and what’s not so reporting and analytics are not only vital for determining how you’re currently doing, they’re essential for continued growth and success.
So, how can you make the most out of your reporting and analytics? It starts with figuring out exactly what you want to understand.
What do you want to learn?
A good social media reporting strategy is built at the start. You can’t just publish content without any kind of tagging infrastructure and expect it to reveal all of the world’s answers to you. You need to have a plan.
Start by asking yourself what you’re looking to learn and narrow your focus from there. Let’s say you want to understand what kind of content your social media audience is responding to; you first need to get specific and define exactly what you’re looking to learn. What does a response look like and how are you defining content?
In this instance, a response could be click throughs or engagement. Content could be shareable assets (i.e. GIFs, images, or videos) or web content (i.e. blogs, customer stories, etc.), or you could be comparing one campaign to another.
You can’t begin unless you have a clear understanding of what you’re actually trying to learn. Depending on the reporting tool you’re using, you may be able to measure things simultaneously, but narrowing your focus for each analytics exercise will ensure the most accurate results.
Set it up
Once you know what you’re looking to get out of your report, you can build out a tagging infrastructure accordingly. Continuing with the example above, let’s say you want to understand what kind of shareable assets your audience is engaging with (i.e. likes, comments, shares). You would then segment all of your content by asset type (stock images, graphic social cards, animated gifs, snackable videos, link previews, etc.), with each category getting its own tag. The exact set up on the back end will depend on your analytics tool but the concept is the same—define, then tag.
Once you’ve got everything set up, sit back and let the data roll in. As it accumulates, it’s good to begin looking at the trends to see if you’re noticing patterns. We like to do this month over month, but the time frame will vary depending on the specifics of the test. Find what works for your program, and go with it. Assess which of the tags is receiving the highest level of engagement, which is receiving the lowest, and if there’s a stark difference between the two.
Could it really be that simple?
At the end of the day, this will not be as cut and dry as an A/B test. A fully realized test would require that we continuously publish the exact same content with only one variable change week over week or month over month. But that’s not an ideal channel experience for any social program that I know of.
It’s true that there are many variables to consider, like copy, subject matter, or time of day affecting the metrics. That’s why it’s important to run these tests over time and watch and wait for trends to emerge. Data speaks volumes, but there is always some translation involved. It’s important to assess all of the possibilities. It’s also important to look at levels of engagement (engagement rates) vs hard engagement numbers (overall engagement) as that can be affected by post volume.
As you start to run campaigns simultaneously, you’ll begin to see connections. Maybe one type of shareable asset drives a higher level of engagement overall, while your campaign reporting is telling you that a specific line of business (LoB) is driving clicks. Comparing and contrasting that data can illuminate a clear path for your program to move forward. As long as you set up the tagging infrastructures in the back end, you should be able to compare and contrast for maximum insights.
Qualitative + quantitative data
Lastly, it’s always important to remember to consider qualitative data in conjunction with quantitative data. Both are important, but one may be able to provide more in-depth insights into your audience than the other.
Some assets may drive more engagements overall while others drive thoughtful, inquisitive comments from qualified customers. Animated GIFs may drive the most engagements while link previews drive clicks. The question becomes: which is more important to your brand? Once you determine that in relation to your goals, you can decide how to move forward.
Go forth and optimize
Once you have all of that information under your belt, it’s time to adapt your social strategy accordingly. Increase focus on the content that is driving the engagement you’re looking for and continue testing from there. Your strategy is ever-evolving, so your reporting should be too. It’s important to never stop analyzing. Your goals may change, but the continuous cycle of testing, analyzing, and optimizing should never cease.