How to measure the impact of your social media marketing

How to measure the impact of your social media marketing

Posted: Wed 17th Apr 2019

Social media has become an important pillar of small business marketing. But how do you know the effort you're putting in is worthwhile?

Getting a better understanding of what's working will help you plan how much time and money to invest and it makes sure you get the most of the opportunity. This post outlines a framework for creating social media goals.

Identify your goals for social media

There's an iceberg of information available on consumer behaviour, so it's important to think about what you want to measure and why.

Start by thinking about the role of social media in your wider sales strategy. Are you using it to generate brand awareness, answer customer questions or nurture advocates, or is there some other reason? Then think about the kind of actions you want your audience to take to achieve those aims.

"Social media is a channel, not a strategy," says marketing expert Luan Wise. "The point of social media is to support what you're doing. It comes back to business goals. What am I trying to achieve?"

Writing a list that outlines what you're going to do with each social media channel can help solidify how you expect to achieve these goals.

Useful points to cover include:

  1. The types of content you're going to post

  2. The tone of the account

  3. What part of your customer base is using the social media network

  4. How often you expect to post

  5. The level of engagement you're aiming for

  6. What action you want followers to take

It's the last two that we're interested in for this blog. But it's worth thinking about the rest as you start to measure the impact of your social media activity.

The need to keep improving

Looking at your social media goals regularly helps match activity to performance. You could get traction from something off the platform like a PR release, so it's helpful to be aware of what's happening.

Don't be afraid of bad numbers! If something's not working try to figure out why. Share what you learn with your team or peers, and drop the channel or approach if you think there's no way forward.

Luan says her social media goals tend to focus on continuous improvement. Each week, for example, she wants to see her LinkedIn activity to improve.

"I try and improve the number of interactions on the week before. If it has a downwards red arrow I know I need to do something," she says. She adds that the caveat is to check the people who are linking, commenting and sharing content have the right job titles and are based in the regions that are relevant to you.

You can compare your performance against your competitors. Look for accounts that have a similar offering to yours. How much are their posts shared? What kind of comments do they get? This can provide a useful benchmark, but remember to take the size of their business into account when you're doing this exercise.

Talk to your customers

Asking customers where they first heard about your brand is a great way of learning about the impact of your marketing channels. It can be done online when they're filling out their order details or in-person at the till.

Collating this information will help you identify what's working. What share of the customers found you on social media? What platform do they mention? Ask a follow-up question about whether they checked your social media during the process too - they may find you through a recommendation but your beautiful Instagram product photos won them over.

If you make sales on the phone or in-person meetings, it can be helpful to track the source of your leads - what impact does social media have on enquiries?

On-going and campaign-based social media metrics

On-going social media activity helps generate sales. It's useful to establish a routine for how often you're posting and the time you're going to invest.

You can set monthly or quarterly goals for what this activity should achieve, such as reaching a certain number of followers, too. Try to look at the leads and sales generated more often; what impact does social media have on your bottom line?

Campaign-based social media metrics do exactly what they say on the tin. If you are going to invest money or time with a particular objective, such as a limited time offer or a brand-building Twitter chat, make sure you know the impact it has.

We reference Alice in Wonderland when we've spent too long investigating something on Google Analytics: "I've really gone down the rabbit hole with this one." But it's important to spend some time investigating customer behaviour.

The key is to start with an idea of where you want to end up - somewhat different to our protagonist. If you have a theory about how customers behave online have a look and see if you can back it up. Just don't waste too much time falling "down, down, down" the rabbit hole.

The Google Analytics basics

Learning where your traffic comes from

Social media plays a key role in driving traffic to your website so it's crucial you track what they do when they get there. Look at the amount of traffic that comes from different social networks and the pages viewed.

The 'Acquisition' link in the left-hand menu of Google Analytics is the main place to do this. The overview page shows the different ways people are finding your site and you can click on 'Social' to drill down into these statistics.

It's important to consider the volume of traffic as well as quality. What's the average session duration (how long do they spend on your website) and how many pages do they view per session? Goals also appear in this view, so you can immediately see what's driving your conversions if you've set them up.

Clicking into a particular social network and adding a secondary dimension of 'Landing Page' will help you see what pages have been popular.

The role of Google Analytics goals

Google Analytics goals measure customer actions on your site. Common uses include purchasing products and submitting information on a lead generation form.

They can be set up to track each step the customer takes, helping identify what part of the process needs attention. It's really helpful to add a monetary amount next to your goals.

Social media measurement tools

There are several tools we recommend:

  • All the platforms provide useful analytics such as the best time of day to post and which posts generate the most engagement. On Instagram, create a business account to access data, go to 'Insights' on your Facebook page, visit on Twitter and click 'Analytics' on your LinkedIn company page.

  • The Facebook pixel is a bit of code that's added to your website to track users of the social media platform and the performance of adverts.

  • Google Analytics: Provides everything a small business is likely to need to understand what people are doing on your website. It should be added as soon as you launch.

  • Buffer: Allows you to manage several social media accounts and figure out which posts perform best. A more comprehensive set of analysis tools has recently been released.

  • Brand24: A comprehensive suite of social monitoring tools, including brand impact and sentiment analysis.

  • Awario: Monitors the web for mentions of your brand and judges sentiment.

Set your expectations and start experimenting

Hopefully, this post has got you thinking about the importance of social media goals and how to start measuring them.

It's important to experiment too. Have fun with social media and try out the different ways of reaching your audience that make sense for your brand. Measuring the impact of these different campaigns and your overall strategy will help you increase the impact it has over time.


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