Social Media Analytics for Beginners
If you’re a beginner in social media for higher ed, you may have gotten as far as setting up your social media accounts, but now you have to report on your success. That means… DUN DUN DUN… analytics. If you’ve never done reporting with analytics it might sound a little scary. Let’s break it down so that you know what to measure and then how to measure it.
What should you measure?
This is an important question because you can’t measure everything, and if you try, you will spend all of your time on it, and probably go a little nuts. What you measure in social media will be based on your goals for social media (which are probably also your general marketing and communications goals for your entire unit or department). Here are some common goals in higher ed:
- Referral traffic (to a website, maybe)
- Info capture (like email addresses for a newsletter)
- Sales funnel (or admissions funnel) — getting people to buy or do something
- Eyeballs on stories
- Brand and reputation management
You might have two or three of these goals, but you probably won’t have all of them. (If you have more than two or three, I’d encourage you to pick your top two or three anyway, and focus on those.)
Now that you have your goals in mind, you have a general idea of what you want to measure.
- If your goal is referral traffic, you should measure traffic to your sites from social media.
- If your goal is engagement, you should measure the percentage of users who interact with your social media content.
- If your goal is info capture, you should measure how much info you can capture starting with social media CTAs. (CTA is just a fancy abbreviation for a Call To Action, like “read more,” “click here,” or “apply now.”)
- If your goal is to get people into a sales funnel, you should measure how many sales you make (or applications are started) starting with social media CTAs.
- If your goal is eyeballs on stories, you should measure how many clicks you get on links shared.
- If your goal is brand and reputation management, you should measure sentiment.
How do you measure?
Depending on what you’d like to measure, a lot of it can be pulled from social media platforms themselves. There’s Twitter analytics, Facebook Insights, and YouTube analytics (which are super beefy because Google owns YouTube). Instagram has analytics, too, although you can only get them on your phone, and you’re going to want to make sure you’re a business account so that you get the most analytics possible.
You’re probably also going to want to get familiar with Google Analytics, which will give you information on where your website traffic is coming from, including referrals from social media. Google Analytics can also help you manage your sales or admissions funnel if you use their tagging system faithfully. The best news is that it’s all free, of course.
Sentiment is the hardest piece that you might have to measure. Some social media platforms will have a sentiment measurement built in, but they’re notoriously inaccurate because they’re based on keywords, and can’t accurately measure the emotion behind a tweet or a post. You can track the changes in your sentiment score over time, though, and dig deeper into any anomalies. That way, at least you have a baseline to start from.
As with all things that seem overwhelming, start small and work your way up! This week, learn how to find out how your audiences are engaging on Instagram, for example. Next week: CONQUER THE WORLD!
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