Chad Morris, staff writer interviewed Vice President of Digital Marketing, Samantha Morris, for her top social media tips in this 6-part series.

Analytics and metrics help visualize the beating heart of social media. They’re tools for evaluating the impact and success of what you publish online, which can lead to more data-driven decision making. Without analytics and metrics, navigating through the world of digital media can be akin to sailing on a cloudy night. By learning how analytics and metrics can be leveraged on social media, you can improve your approach to setting goals and creating content.

To start, let’s clarify the difference between analytics and metrics. Metrics are standards of measurement that tell you what happened, while analytics are the deeper insights revealed by metrics that explain why. These are definitions for some common social media metrics:

  • Reach: The total audience size to which your message could be exposed. If you have 100 friends on Facebook, your new post could potentially be seen by 100 people.
  • Impressions: The actual number of people who see your content. If only 75 of your 100 friends went online that day and saw your post, you would have 75 impressions from a reach of 100 people.
  • Click-Through Rate: The ratio of people who click on a link contained in your post relative to the number of impressions. If, of those 75 impressions, 15 people clicked your link, you would have 15 click-throughs and a click-through rate of 15/75 or 20%.
  • Engagement: The number of people who interact with your content through comments, public shares, and likes.
  • Sentiment: A measure of the emotional response, positive, negative and neutral, created by your content. Platforms such as Facebook allow viewers to share their mood on a given post.

When deciding which metrics to prioritize, ask yourself what outcome you are trying to elicit through your content. For example, the intention behind a thought-provoking post is to create conversation and thus engagement is the essential metric, whereas the purpose of a motivational piece is to uplift and drive sentiment. You need to have established goals to create valuable analytical insights. Turning metrics into analytics involves taking these measurements, understanding their context, and discovering what the implications are. By reviewing the trends of a specific metric over time, you can start to recognize patterns in behavior and the cause-and-effect relationship between them, internal factors within your control such as when and what you publish, and external factors outside of your control such as market cycles.

Analytics can sharpen your content strategy by quantifying human behavior. For example, if you are publishing videos on Facebook, you can see second-by-second where viewers are losing interest. Understanding your viewers’ average attention span identifying any specific triggers that cause people to tune out enables you to revise your content strategically. Another practical application of analytics is using A/B testing to select the right message for a social media campaign. For example, on Facebook you can create “lookalike audiences”, which are two different test groups made up of the same predefined characteristics. You can then expose each group to a different version of a message and gauge, using metrics, which variant creates the more favorable response. Being experimental with strict controls lets you measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign at a given time before going live with it to your entire audience. These are just a few examples of how analytics can be used to enhance your content.

As the adage goes, “that which gets measured, gets improved”. Incorporating data into your social media strategies helps you learn from your past and make calculated decisions for the future. Think of analytics and metrics as the lighthouse along the waterfront shining a path through the fog.



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