A Beginner’s Guide to PR Analytics, Part Two: Social Media
Welcome back to our blog series highlighting simple ways to begin incorporating analytics into your PR strategies. In Part One, we looked at owned media. Part Two focuses on social media, examining easy ways to gain insight both on your social media content and your followers.
Like Medium and YouTube, as mentioned in our owned media post, many social media channels have their own built-in analytics platforms that are completely free. (Some might say that Medium and YouTube are social media channels themselves, but that’s a topic for another blog post.) For example, Facebook business pages have an “Insights” tab and Twitter has its own analytics site.
These native analytics platforms will give you standard insights on reach and engagement for each update that your account posts, so that you can see which types of content perform best. They also provide follower data, not only looking at when and by how much your following has grown, but also in terms of your following’s demographics. Just remember that certain platforms (like LinkedIn and Facebook) will provide better demographic info than others (Twitter and Instagram), as users enter more in-depth information about themselves there.
Here’s a quick primer on where you can find each platform’s tools, and what you can do with them:
You can access Twitter’s analytics by going to analytics.twitter.com, or by clicking on your icon in the top right of your Twitter screen and selecting “Analytics” from the drop-down menu. From there, you’ll go to your Twitter Analytics homepage, which will give you some high-level stats on the recent performance of your page, as well as monthly breakdowns if you scroll down. If you’re just dipping your toes into analytics, this page is an easy place to start.
The next tab over is “Tweets,” which shows every tweet you’ve published for a given time period, along with each tweet’s impressions (how many times it has been seen), engagements (how many times the tweet has been clicked on in some way), and engagement rate (the former divided by the latter). That’s handy information for judging a tweet’s relative success, but there’s more! By clicking on any given tweet, you can actually get a breakdown of those engagements — how many were retweets, how many were link clicks, how many were clicks on the accompanying image, etc. When you export the data using the button on the top right of the page, you’ll get all of this information in a spreadsheet.
[At this point, a quick note on utilizing this data, which goes for all of these platforms: once you have social media data in a spreadsheet, there’s still usually a bit of Excel (or Google Sheets) work to be done to turn numbers into insights. But you can discover a lot with simple functions like “SUM” or “MEDIAN.” Or, even simpler, you can just sort your spreadsheet by different columns to yield insights — that’s an easy way to view your most “liked” posts for any reporting time period, for example.]
The other tab to know on Twitter Analytics is “Audiences,” which provides estimated demographic data on your account’s followers, ranging from gender and location to interests and income range. Emphasis on “estimated,” because Twitter users often do not enter this information into the platform themselves. So please take these numbers with a grain of salt — even the chart showing follower growth for your account is not always completely accurate, in our experience.
Facebook insights can be found by going to your business page and clicking the “Insights” Tab fourth from the left. You’ll then see a number of different options on the left-hand menu, but in the interest of brevity and consistency, we’ll cover just a few.
“Likes” and “Followers” tell you pretty much the same thing (the numbers tend to be almost identical, as most people who like your page also follow your page): how your number of followers or likes has grown or decreased over a given time period. More interesting is the “People” tab, which provides demographic insight on your audience in terms of age, gender, and location. Truth be told, it’s not as robust as one might expect, given how much data Facebook collects on its users.
To view post data, you click, unsurprisingly, on “Posts.” Through the “All Posts Published” table, you can see every post sent from your account, with high-level stats on reach and engagement. You can then click into each individual post to see which types of actions (likes, shares, link clicks, etc.) are accounted for in the engagement number. The Posts page also includes data on “When Your Fans Are Online,” which is nice because you can then time your posts accordingly.
With Instagram, the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure your page is a business account, not a personal one. This can be done by going into your settings, tapping “Switch to Business Account,” and linking your page with your Facebook page.
Once you have a business account, you should see a chart icon on the top right of your page. (See the screenshot above.) Clicking on that icon takes you to your “Insights” home, where you can see a quick overview of your account’s performance from the past seven days and a few stats on your follower demographics (gender, age range, and location). You can dig deeper into these numbers by clicking “See More,” which also shows you the days and hours that your followers are most active on the platform — again, very useful information for determining when to post!
Speaking of posts, there are two ways you can gain post insight. The first is from that same Insights page, where you can sort all of your posts according to post type, metric, and timeframe. (See screenshot below). The second is by viewing a specific post from your account, and then hitting “View Insights” — this will show you impressions, reach, and engagement numbers for said post.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn is set up to have its users enter a good deal of data about themselves. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn lets you see a good amount of that data in analytics! Click on “Analytics” in the top menu of your business page, and you’ll see a drop-down menu for three additional pages. Each offers quite a bit of information, so I’ll try to keep this brief:
- Visitors shows traffic metrics (page views and unique visitors) and demographic data (location, industry, seniority, and more) for visitors to your page. This data can be adjusted over a number of different timeframes.
- Updates lists engagement metrics for each post published from your page, and also provides a customizable timeline of how many impressions and engagements your page has received overall within a given timeframe.
- Followers shows follower growth for your account, and then, like the Visitors tab, provides a demographic breakdown of those followers.
Because it collects so much information from users, LinkedIn is generally able to be very accurate and precise with its demographic data — and because this information is typically work-related, LinkedIn analytics are particularly useful for B2B companies.
Again, the statistics described above are all available for free within your social media account(s). There are also many third-party tools available as well, which can provide a deeper level of analysis. I won’t get into all of them here, but I’ll provide a quick example.
One platform we really like is Followerwonk. We’ve used Followerwonk in many analytics reports, as it offers capability for analyzing Twitter followers that Twitter doesn’t provide natively. The biggest help for us has been the ability export a full list of an account’s followers, complete with any data those followers have included in their profiles (location, description, website, etc.) That spreadsheet also includes follower and following numbers for each account, and Followerwonk even gives each account its own “social authority score,” designed to show which Twitter accounts are most influential.
If working through a large spreadsheet like that is too much for you, you can still see some surface-level data about your account’s following through the website. Enter in the account name under the “Analyze” tab and you’ll get a variety of charts. The coolest of which, in my opinion, are a bar graph that shows what times of day your followers are most active, and a dynamic map where you can see where in the world your followers are. Remember, this data should not be taken as exact — people can enter fake locations for their accounts, or no location at all — but it’s a cool high-level snapshot. With that information in hand, you can then schedule your posts around specific times, and perhaps target your marketing toward specific regions as well.
Followerwonk is just one tool of many that aim to give users a better understanding of their social media efforts. Additionally, if you are using a social media management system (like Sprout Social), those platforms often come with their own set of analytics. Some of these metrics are just repurposing data you can already get in the native analytics, but at the very least, the social media management systems can streamline your analytics — if you’re using one to run your social accounts, you might as well take advantage of the insights it provides!
We covered a lot of ground here, but hopefully you can now see just how simple it is to begin finding and analyzing content and audience data from your social media accounts. For the final post in this series, we’ll take a look at a type of media that is far more complex to measure: earned media. Keep an eye out for that one later in the quarter, and as always, if you have any questions about what I covered, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.