When it comes to measuring your social media channels, the endless amount of data available can be overwhelming to say the least. Likes, clicks, interactions, shares, retweets, followers… the trickiest part can be identifying what it all means and which metrics hold real value to you or your clients.

At Tanis, we find value in using the analytics tools built right into the social platforms. Every quarter, we take a deep dive into our clients’ Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube accounts to analyze what’s resonating, what isn’t and how social channels have benefited their business.

Identifying KPIs (key performance indicators) should always be the first step in developing your measurement strategy. Your KPIs should be SMART: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and with a Time factor. KPIs vary from business to business and can include brand exposure, website traffic, sales, memberships, etc. It’s best to start with monthly goals and expand to quarterly and annual goals to show long term impact against objectives.  Once your KPIs are established, you can then apply the analytics tools offered by these platforms.

LinkedIn analytics are divided into three categories: Updates, Followers and Visitors. Updates offers a ton of data on how your posts are actually performing–such as how many people saw it, clicked on it, liked or commented. Followers measures the number of followers gained over time through organic or acquired through sponsored content.  Lastly, visitors shows how many times your page was viewed and offers a breakdown of who’s visiting it based on seniority, industry and company size.  Twitter offers similar metrics, but with the added features of top performing tweet, top mention by another user and top follower.  These features help you learn about your audience and what content resonates most with them along with determining optimal times to post to drive the most interaction

The goal of any social campaign is to drive interaction between you and your followers. After all, social media should be social.  Make sure to interact with your followers to foster a relationship and create a sense of loyalty that will lead to growth. Many believe that the number of followers determines the success of a social channel, but numbers are irrelevant if you’re not connecting to the right audience. Identify valuable followers by monitoring conversations or hashtags around industry trends and competition. If desired, there are tons of paid platforms available that can measure trends, engagement and suggested users across all channels in one place, and with features beyond the basics offered within each platform.

We have recently started using Hootsuite to manage all our social channels in one place. While we don’t use this tool for analytics, it helps us manage the social calendars for all our clients by scheduling posts in advance. This is helpful when you are managing multiple channels to make sure posts are going out consistently.

Finally, developing a measurement strategy and staying consistent with your measurement tactics over time is the key to showing the value of a social campaign. Tracking key engagement metrics such as clicks, comments, likes and interactions over time identifies what your audience is drawn to, and will lead to long-term organic growth and exposure for any business.

By Amy McDowell, Account Executive at Tanis Communications