Applying Science to Social Media: Analytics 101

These days, the importance of using social media to connect with customers goes almost without saying. And with a variety of channels to choose from that offer direct access to millions of people at no cost, what’s not to like?

Well, for one thing, there’s the issue of measurability. While the barriers to entry are next to none, how can you assess your company’s performance in engaging with all those existing and potential customers? After all, social media doesn’t conform to any of the familiar metrics that we’ve used to evaluate traditional mediums for decades. You can’t sum up your interactions on Facebook or Twitter in terms of rating points or share.

Furthermore, what constitutes a good result for one company may not apply for another. What if yours is a service-based business rather than one that sells tangible consumer goods? Or what if you’re charged with managing social media for a ministry or nonprofit? Your standards for success will likely be completely different than those of a for-profit entity.

The good news is that there are many tools available to help you gauge the overall health of your Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts. Even if your company doesn’t have the funds or the manpower to devote to managing your social media presence full-time, there are no-cost and low-cost options available to help you wrangle the ambiguous concept of engagement into quantifiable figures.

Free solutions

Let’s start with Facebook. The good folks at Facebook offer very helpful performance metrics via their aptly-named Insights feature, but trying to process this data can be like drinking from a fire hose (and one that changes fairly often) unless you know how to filter what you need from what you don’t. Here are a couple of simple calculations that you can perform to distill this raw data into meaningful information.

At any given point in time, you can gauge the basic level of engagement on your Page by dividing the number of Monthly Active Users by the total number of Lifetime Likes. Multiply that figure by 100, and you’ve got the percentage of your fanbase that has interacted with your content in some form or fashion during the past month.

Because Insights information is kept private and made available only to a Page’s designated administrators, there aren’t any industry benchmarks against which you can rate how your performance stacks up. However, what you can and should do instead is track your own figures over the course of several months. Is your engagement percentage dropping? Climbing? Holding steady? Keeping an eye on these trends will help you establish benchmarks for your own company and give you a feel for the types of tactics and campaigns that get the greatest response.

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