There’s a difference between telling someone a bunch of statistics and telling a story. You need to be able to translate the numbers so that others will understand what those numbers mean for your business. For us, as content marketers, that means transforming decks of social media analytics into evidence of a successful social media performance program, a lesson on how to improve, or a guardrail to prevent us from ever doing a certain thing again.
Raw numbers like page hits and site visitors can help you get a handle on how your social media efforts are performing. But if you’re trying to build a presence as a thought leader in your industry, you’ll need deeper insight into what those numbers mean. Here are five key measurements that can help you determine how your thought leadership initiatives are performing and tips on how to turn those numbers into proof that marketing makes money, too.
Five tips for judging social media performance
This analytic shows you how many people are viewing your web pages — this is a simplistic definition as all analytics are more complex, but at a glance this is what it’s telling you. In addition to giving you a sense for the size of your audience — and how fast it’s growing — this indicator shows you which types of content resonate with your audience and which don’t. You can find out which channels work best for which audience, what types of content pull readers in, and which topics really engage your audience. Pageview analytics give you a snapshot of how your social media campaign is working right now, and where you may have opportunities to grow it.
From a trend perspective, you always want your pageviews to be increasing. If you see an area on your website or channel that is stagnant or decreasing, that tells you that you need to make some changes.
Time on site
You spend a lot of time and energy attracting people to your website, but how long do they stay once they’ve arrived? Time on site analytics can show you how engaged your audience is — how often they finish the article they came to read, for instance, or how often they click on a second or third post once they’re on your website.
Again, you always want this number to be going up, and as you grow you want it to scale with you. It proves that your customers find value in what you are producing, and with value comes the drive to tell others. This number also tells you if you’re drawing people in successfully but then losing them once they arrive. Clearly your SEO and/or ad strategy (among other things) are better than your content. If your main revenue stream is ad-serving, then that’s great. But, if it’s not, that’s terrible.
Many companies focus on attracting new visitors via their social media initiatives — after all, you can’t grow without bringing in more customers — but to measure engagement, they should also look at repeat visitors. These people like your products, services, and thought leadership enough to come to your site over and over. The more repeat visitors you have, the more successfully you can build your brand and lay the groundwork for future sales.
So, like time on site, repeat visitors show that people find your content valuable — coming back and reading it over again, or looking for new things. This is a great opportunity to suggest an email campaign featuring your highest rated postings to be sent to existing customers and prospects. You know which posts are viewed frequently and you know people are returning to see if anything is new, so it makes sense to make it easy on them and drop carefully curated content into their inboxes.
When a customer clicks on a tweet or LinkedIn post, enters your site, and immediately exits it, that’s called a bounce. For instance, say your social media team dreams up a really catchy tweet that, unfortunately, doesn’t really match the article which it links to. People click for one kind of content, find something else, and leave — not good. The bounce rate can show how well a message resonates with key audiences. The lower the bounce rate, the more likely that your social media initiatives are succeeding.
Clearly you always want this number to go down, and it gives you a metric to compare your social media production prowess with the longer form content on your website, blog, etc. So if you are drawing a lot of people in (Yay, social media team!) but they are quickly bouncing, you know that you need to tweak your content to make sure it’s of the same quality as your social media, or that the social media isn’t advertising one thing and then serving up another. No one likes clickbait.
Social media drives awareness. It educates potential customers about your products and services. It positions your company as a source of insight and information. And ultimately, it moves people further along the path toward purchasing the goods or services that you sell.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to draw a direct line between social media and sales conversions. Many times, a new relationship or sale happens because of the cumulative effect of many different tweets, blog posts, web content, advertising, and direct sales contact. It’s hard to separate social media from all the other ways that people interact with your brand. We like to use the concept of a sales funnel, where awareness leads to interest, then a decision, and finally action. Social media increases awareness and builds interest, pushing prospects further down the sales funnel.
But in order to be successful, your social media campaign has to engage with your audience. And you need to be able to engage with your analytics to paint a picture for the people who matter. These five can help you gauge how well your campaign is resonating with users, going beyond the raw numbers to measure impact.