How to Measure (and Think About) Social Media Success

When I begin a social media engagement, the first question I ask is, “what is your goal?”  Defining what you want to achieve is always step one. This helps identify the key metrics that should be used to measure success. Having that foundation is crucial and allows you to move on to the next step, which is asking/answering questions geared around how you plan to track your goals, and what tools you will use to capture the data to make sure it displays the full effect of your social media efforts.

I am just going to scratch the surface of how to define and measure success. I will do a deep dive into each topic in the upcoming weeks, so keep a look out for those blogs. Now, on to the good stuff.

Defining Your Social Media Goals

What do you want to achieve? It might be more than one thing, and that’s okay. Usually, you can break goals down into a primary goal along with a few secondary objectives to help you focus your efforts. Here are a few examples of primary goals that our clients come to us looking to achieve:

  • Awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Re-purchase

As you can imagine, an awareness campaign looks very different than a conversion or retention campaign. If everyone is on the same page about the primary goal, choices about what and where to post and advertise become obvious. The fun work of doing social media can begin!

Here’s a quick example to help you frame this:

Say you are selling apparel and fashion accessories and have hired us to handle your paid social efforts. In the first meeting, we identified that your primary goal is to drive sales (conversions) and secondary objectives are awareness and engagement. From there, we would map out a strategy that captures both how we will pull in those conversions and fill the funnel with new users through awareness and engagement campaigns to help us continually drive conversions.

Primary Measurements:

  • Sales
  • ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)

Secondary Measurements:

  • Engagements
  • Impressions
  • Clicks

Tracking Your Social Media Efforts

Tracking your success is essential to proving social media works (spoiler alert, it does!), and provides a feedback loop for continuous improvement. So how do you track it all? Each social platform has a pixel you can install on your website. We typically start by asking our clients to put Google Tag Manager on their site if they don’t currently have a container tag, as this helps us easily place each pixel on the website autonomously. Seriously, if you don’t use Tag Manager, you are missing out. It makes tracking SO much easier.

Once you get the pixel on the website, you can set up custom conversions, which allow you to track specific pages, events, etc. Using the fashion brand example I mentioned above, we would want that pixel to monitor different events along each customer’s journey. This would include events like specific category page views to see where individuals are going after clicking or viewing a social ad, how many people have added products to their cart, and per our primary goal, how many people are purchasing.

Depending on the platform, we can go one step further than just tracking the event. For Facebook and Instagram, it is possible to have your purchase event send the total purchase amount back to the Facebook/Instagram dashboard so that you are able to see an actual ROAS. Pretty cool, right?!

Some of you might be saying, “I want to see this data in Google Analytics (GA), can I do that too?” Yes, you can, with some caveats. You can track ads, posts and other content that link to your site by appending UTM tags to the link URLs. UTM tags let you assign a source, campaign and other details to help you measure how traffic performs on your website. 

It can be tempting to rely on just Facebook or GA for your data, but you should really utilize both. GA reports on all traffic to a website, so this helps you understand your marketing efforts more holistically. But GA only reports on interactions that happen on your website. With social media, people don’t have to visit your site to engage with you, so GA only tells part of the story. How to use GA and Facebook together can get a bit complicated, so we will elaborate on this in our upcoming social attribution series of blog posts.

At this point, you are either shaking your head and saying, “yes, I do that already,” or you are thinking, “I hear you and comprehend what you’re saying, but this seems like too much for me to handle.” That’s ok; this is what your agency or marketing partner should be able to do for you. (Wink, wink 😉)

Social Attribution And How To Tell A Story

The final part of this process is collecting data, analyzing it, and turning it into a visual story for others to understand. This will require you to look at multiple data sources, like GA and the specific social platforms analytics tools, as well as a potential third party service. This will help you start to build out a story of what happened during the course of a specific campaign. In your report, you will want to highlight the primary metric you identified to help measure success;  as well as some of the secondary and softer metrics that happened along the way. Why? Because this will help you shape your story. Social media is about connecting with people. You want to convey the journey customers make leading up to your primary goal.

Overall, social media can be an extremely successful channel for your brand. Proving that success and how it fits into your big picture strategy is key to making sure you have the right amount of social media in your marketing mix. Following the steps I’ve outlined in this article will provide you with a way to show the overall impact in a way that will resonate with your stakeholders.

Did you get new tips and tricks from this article? Or are you tracking your social media efforts in another way that works for you? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

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