Social media analytics is a digital monitoring activity that makes it possible to check the effectiveness of one or more social networks through a detailed analysis of the data flow. Various tools can be used to do this, some free and some paid, or one can use the data analysis programs already installed on social media.
Furthermore, social media analysis collects and analyzes metrics not only for the most popular social networks but also for all social media on the web, e.g., online newspapers, forums, and blogs.
Social media analytics, also called social network analysis (SNA), is therefore a young methodology that is widely used in the field of social sciences and has inevitably developed in the fields of business and marketing.
In the digital age, performing this activity is of paramount importance since, once the metrics have been analyzed, it is possible to understand how to make the most of the enormous potential of social media and become a professional social media manager.
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Thanks to media analysis, you can obtain numerous pieces of data and information on your visitors, customers, potential customers, or simple followers. Here are some of the functions:
- Obtain location information from users;
- Obtaining information on the sex and age of visitors (not all tools have this function);
- Identify the most searched and used keywords;
- Identifying the most frequently used keywords for a certain article and service for sale, or on certain posts, links, etc.;
- Examine the peak times and days when users visit the social network the most;
- Monitor the general behavior of users.
The data obtained can be of various kinds and we can identify the five most important ones:
- Textual data (comments, posts…)
- Data related to the analyzed network (Facebook friendships, Twitter, or Instagram following system…)
- Actions (shares, reactions, ‘likes’…)
- Useful data for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes
Knowing how to analyze the social media used thus allows you to save money on paid advertisements, get to know your customers better, and, consequently, be able to build a marketing strategy based on the various buyer personas. The person who analyzes the performance of a company’s social channels is the social media manager.
Social media analysis: how does it work?
Social media analytics activities are almost always conducted by social media marketing specialists and can be divided into three phases: data identification, data analysis, and interpretation of the information obtained. In each of these phases, it is crucial to try to answer the so-called 5 W’s (Who/What?, Where?, When?, Why?, How?). Before starting the analysis, however, a goal must be set, which may be the resolution of a problem, the monitoring of a certain aspect of the social, or simply an overview of the site’s performance.
How do you identify the data?
Identifying the data is the first essential step, and until it is interpreted, the data has no meaning. This is why it is good to identify the main attributes to be considered from the outset:
- Content type: text, audio, video, image..;
- Source: which social network or site did that data come from;
- Time: data must be collected during the time period being analyzed;
- Data owner: identify whether the data belongs to a public or private user.
These are just some of the main attributes to consider initially. Once these have been identified, one can proceed with the analysis of the data.
How is the data analyzed?
At the data analysis stage, tools or programs pre-installed in social media (Facebook Insight or Twitter Analytics, for instance) actively come into play.
These software tools facilitate the task of the social media manager (or whoever is in charge of monitoring site data) by developing a data model that organizes content and gives an overview of how it interacts with each other.
There are different types of models; one very commonly used is undoubtedly the word cloud, in which the most commonly used and searched keywords appear larger and more centered within the cloud.
How is the information interpreted?
The third and final stage is the interpretation of the information obtained from the analysis, i.e., the step in which the ball passes into the hands of the human mind and no longer into that of the social media analytics software. All analyzed data must now be considered useful for implementing the right marketing strategy, adjusting the focus on a particular activity, or for any other need of the social media manager, the company, etc.
In order to be able to interpret the information in the best possible way, it is recommended to organize it in a graph, taking into strong consideration the objective that was set at the beginning of the analysis. Three criteria should be borne in mind when creating this graph:
- Target audience: understanding the target audience you are referring to is essential in order to be able to organize the data, as there are many types of audiences and, consequently, different types of interactions with them;
- Framework: ensure that the graph is semantically and syntactically correct;
- Storytelling: it is difficult to understand social media analysis well, so to better assimilate the information gained, one can help oneself by writing a kind of report of the whole analysis so that it is clearer to the analyst.
Once this is done, the data can finally be collected and represented in a graph. A pie chart, bar graph, line graph, or scatter plot are some of the examples social media managers use in social media analytics.
Social media analytics: which tools to use?
When it comes to social media analytics tools, a very important distinction must be made between:
- Internal Social Media Analytics tools
- External Social Media Analytics Tools
In fact, every social network has pre-installed software that allows you to analytically measure data exchange, metrics, interactions, and everything else you need to know about your profile or page.
However, this is not the only possibility for monitoring social media. There are, in fact, tools that can analyze the data of both the best-known social platforms and other social media, such as blogs or news sites. Just have a look on Google to realize the huge amount of analytics tools that exist: some are free, some are subscription-based, some specialize in a single social, etc. Social media analytics provide valuable insights into the performance of your online presence.
Let’s see, for both types just illustrated, which social media analytics tools are most commonly used
Facebook Insight, Twitter Analytics, Instagram Insight, and LinkedIn Analytics are the names of the most popular and widely used social network analysis software. Usually, social media managers flank these free tools with more comprehensive and professional analysis software (which we will discuss later in this article; stay tuned!).
The metrics shown by these programs are, in fact, very simple to interpret and therefore not in-depth enough to be used for the purpose of establishing a proper marketing strategy. Here are some brief descriptions of them:
Facebook Insights is one of the most powerful social media analytics tools for tracking user interactions on Facebook fan pages.
Facebook Insights is free on all business pages, as it was developed to help you analyze your audience and how they interact with your content. The Overview or Overview section shows a page summary of the last day, last 7 days, or last 28 days, showing metrics for both organic and paid content.
Get started: Facebook Insights
The Insights Tool provides an overview of your analytical profiles, including page views (“page views”), post reach, post engagement coverage, and information on the most recent posts.
Facebook Insights is accessible to all page administrators and aids in analyzing the count of active users, thereby enhancing your page’s performance.
Moreover, thanks to Facebook Insights, you will be able to determine “the best time of day” and “the best day of the week” to publish the post and which “content-type” is the most popular.
Click on the settings of your Facebook fan page at the top, select “View Insights,” and a graph as shown below will appear:
This is the main section of Insights in which you can see Total Likes, “the total number of likes,” which can be increasing or decreasing, Friends of Fans, “the available number of friends or fans”, People Talking About This, how many “people are talking about your page,” and Weekly Total Reach, which is ‘the total of your most viewed content for the week’.
The virality section is very popular as it allows you to see which posts have actually been most successful.
By doing so, you will have access to all post data in the form of a percentage.
Specifically, the date of publication, the title of the post, its coverage, how many users interacted with a particular piece of content, how many times that word was searched, and consequently its virality.
If you click on “Likes” instead, you will see demographic data according to the location of the fans or users. In addition, the percentage of groups of people according to their age is shown.
The “Reach” (or Coverage) section is probably the most important of all, as you can see the views on your page and the views of the individual visitor, i.e., those who have searched your page, unlike sponsored ads on Facebook. In addition, through this section, you will be able to see your “reach” in terms of organic, paid, and viral searches.
Another section called “Talking About This” evaluates the data of those users who have generated discussions or are talking about your page. Again, this section includes demographic data and percentages of people divided into different age groups.
The last section is “Check-ins”, perhaps the least used and least relevant for your page. Although it is very effective for companies that have a local physical location, in fact, the users who ‘check in’ and arrive on your page are the most loyal and show the most interest in your content.
In this section, you will be able to see the number of people who checked in, where they come from and where they live, their identity (male or female), and their language.
Why is Instagram analytics important? The basis of an effective marketing strategy on social media is the correct use of data from your Instagram profile. Knowing how the tools provided by the platform work is the first step to making the most of the information obtained about your target audience.
Certainly, Instagram Insights is one of the most influential social media analytics tools, especially on mobile. It is an Instagram tool that provides not only your content but also the demographics of your followers and their actions. This information will make many tasks easier, such as comparing content, measuring campaigns, and seeing how each post is performing.
A business account is required to access Instagram Insights. It’s very simple; just convert your personal account to a business account from your smartphone or Android. Once the conversion is complete, you will be able to see the Insights section for all content that has been published.
Please note: If you decide to switch or switch back from your business account to your personal account, all your Insights data will be lost and cannot be recovered.
To access the Insights section from your personal account, click on the graphic icon at the top right of the screen.
If you want to see the analytical data for an individual post, click on the button in the bottom left-hand corner under “View Insights”.
If, on the other hand, you want to see the data for Instagram Stories, open the story you have created and click on the box at the bottom left.
The main page of Insights shows a summary of data related to the content that has been posted in the last 7 days. In the top section, you can actually see both the total number of followers of your account and those who have interacted over the previous 7 days.
In addition, you can also see the total amount of content posted on your account and the number of new users who have followed you in the last week.
Below are a series of graphs revealing the total number of impressions, coverage (reach), and profile views over the last 7 days. And finally, the number of clicks generated by users who visited your site by applying a call-to-action, i.e., email sign-up, information request, and so on.
Also on the Insights homepage, at the bottom of the Followers section, you can see the summary number of followers on a demographic level, including gender (male or female), age, and place of origin.
For more information, please click on the “See More” button at the top right.
One thing to consider, however, is that in order to display demographic data, you must have at least 100 followers.
The insights provided are incredibly valuable, as they enable you to effectively target your audience on Instagram.
For example, if you want to intercept an audience very similar to your followers, you will need to target the origin of your current audience.
In the Followers section, as shown to the left of the image below, you will find various information on the identities of users. Next, there are two graphs showing when your users are using the platform. In the first, you can see how many followers are online each day, while the second identifies the day and time when users are most active.
The “Actions” section analyzes the actions of your users after seeing a post. Actions are divided into three categories:
- Profile Visits: The number of times your profile has been viewed
- Website Clicks: The number of clicks on the link you added in your company profile description
- Emails: The number of users who have personally interacted with you via email.
While in the “Discovery” section, you can see both the number of people who were reached by the content (Reach) and the impressions for the post (Impressions).
In particular, these two parameters are tracked according to the origin and location of the user.
- From Home: People who saw the post in the news section, or “Newsfeed”.
- From Explore: People who searched for a keyword or saw the post or even did a simple organic search on Google.
- From Profile: People who found your post on your profile page.
- From Other: These are posts that have been shared via direct message, posts that have been saved, posts that you have tagged or mentioned, and posts that you are going to show via notifications.
The last section is dedicated to “promotions,” or rather sponsorships, thanks to which you can create customized promotions on Instagram.
Always click on the “See More” button to access all the metrics you need to track your audience.
- The number of profile visits
- The number of people who saw the promotion
- The number of impressions
- The number of interactions
- Target demographics
- The overall budget estimate used
The analysis tools that Linkedin makes available free of charge are those we have discussed so far in this article: profile and post views, measurement of post interactions (“likes”, comments, and shares), and also the number of clicks on published links. Linkedin has a paid version, Linkedin Premium, with a few more features than the free version and, consequently, more analytical data available for the user to use to improve the effectiveness of the company page.
A data measurement tool has also been developed for LinkedIn, the most widely used platform, especially in the professional sphere, which falls into the category of social media analytics tools.
The analytical section of LinkedIn is divided into three categories:
The Updates section displays the following information:
- Previews show whether the first words of your post will be included in the text
- Dates of each post update
- The audience indicates whether the update was sent to all followers or to all targeted users.
- Sponsoring shows in which campaign you sponsored your content.
- Impressions are the number of times each update was shown to all LinkedIn members.
- Clicks, i.e. the number of clicks on your post, logo, or profile name, although this information does not include traditional interactions such as likes, shares, and comments.
- Interactions are the number of people who have liked, commented on, or shared each update.
- Followers acquired indicate how many users you have added per update.
- The Involvement (Engagement) is indicated through a percentage in which it shows the number of interactions plus the number of clicks and the users acquired, divided by the number of impressions.
In the Followers section, on the other hand, the following data is shown:
The total is the total number of registered LinkedIn members who have started following your company page. However, this number is only updated once a day, unlike the number shown on the general overview of your page, which is updated in real-time.
Organic refers to users who added you organically, i.e., without having clicked on an advertising post.
Acquired otherwise represents the number of followers who have added you via sponsored content.
Next, there are two more sections: follower demographics and follower trends.
The first is a vertical analysis of users who started following your profile by selecting one of five (5) demographic data types: seniority, industry, company size, function, and employee.
The second shows an update on the number of your followers over time.
The Visitors Section is structured in four (4) areas:
- Page Views: a graph shows how many times your profile or page has been viewed.
- Career Page Clicks: This is for those who have a career page. If you have one, this section contains a graph showing how many times visitors have clicked on your page. It is certainly a very professional tool, the purpose of which is to make your profile more interesting than others, especially in the job placement phase, by attracting the attention of human resources and companies.
- Unique Visitors: the graph shows how many LinkedIn users have visited your profile, although duplicate visits to a single page are not counted.
- Visitors Demographics: this graph shows who visited your profile or page based on the demographics mentioned above: company size, industry, function, and so on.
Furthermore, thanks to LinkedIn Analytics, you can visualize data on the performance of your social media page through the parameters of Reach and Engagement.
In the graphs below, certain metrics, such as shares, comments, and likes, are shown and compared month by month.
Twitter’s analytics allow you to measure the views of each published post, check its interactions, and obtain information on your followers in order to optimize the social network’s performance. With this tool, it is, therefore, possible to get an idea of how best to use Twitter Ads, the Twitter platform with which you can initiate advertising campaigns that reach the right target consumers.
A booming social platform is certainly Pinterest, a social network specializing in images taken from the web with which one can create personal pinboards.
The analysis tool that Pinterest makes available makes it possible to find out which content users prefer, which ones they save, and therefore what potential customers want.
Monitoring one’s own website or social platform is of paramount importance, considering that these media have enormous potential to achieve a profitable ROI (return on investment). As has been said many times, however, pre-installed tools are not always sufficient to guarantee a complete and professional analysis, which is why there are more efficient external tools. Below is an overview of the most widespread and used ones.
Socialbakers is one of the most widely used social media analytics tools on Facebook, especially in the area of social media marketing. It is a paid tool, although it offers a 14-day free trial.
It is a type of tool that was created especially for social media managers, who, with this tool, can break the traditional digital marketing mold and take their business model to the next level. Leverage the benefits of social media analytics to optimize your content and engagement strategies.
The basis of its success can be traced back to the amount of detailed information on the performance of our Facebook page, realistically analyzing data on competitors. Make informed decisions based on the trends and patterns revealed by social media analytics.
Among the main functions is “reporting,” one of the indispensable tools for communicating the results of your campaign. Explore the depth of social media analytics and uncover actionable intelligence.
It will be useful when you want to show how your social media results are performing. In this way, you will avoid compiling all your data into pages and save a lot of time by converting them into comprehensible and structured reports. In fact, you can view each individual report in any format—PDF, PowerPoint, PNG, etc.—to stay up-to-date on the performance of your business. Social media analytics empower businesses to track and measure their online success.
Another important function is the “Multicompare” function, aimed at increasing the performance of the page on social media and, above all, understanding your market positioning in order to compare your company’s results with those of your competitors. Stay ahead of the competition by harnessing the potential of social media analytics.
To do this, you need to select 10 different competitors to get a general overview of their performance on Facebook, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and start building your marketing strategy on the basis of the data obtained. To learn more about who your competitors are read: How to Do a competitor analysis.
On the other hand, in the “Content News Feed” section, you can see which post or piece of content has generated the most interaction with users. Unlock the power of social media analytics to drive data-informed decision-making.
The following solutions can be applied:
- You can filter your content by type of post and identify the elements that engaged your audience the most, such as photos, videos, GIFs, and so on.
- Compare the performance of the most successful and less successful posts in order to identify differences and improve the potential of the content.
- Understand the most common type of user reaction to the post, e.g., amazement, love, amusement, or simple appreciation, shown through emoji (heart, amazed face, amused, like, etc.).
In addition, there is another function, “Response Time Evolution“, which allows you to implement an efficient strategy toward your audience.
In fact, this function shows the time of day with the highest number of outstanding questions. This metric will help you plan your activity in a beneficial way so that you or your team can respond in real-time to the users who most need an instant answer at that moment.
Hootsuite is not one of the latest generations of social media analytics tools, but it is certainly the most long-lived in the digital market.
It is a paid service at $8.99 per month for the Pro version, while the subscription for the Business version depends on the number of users.
However, even with the Pro version, you can take advantage of various services:
- Unlimited access to social profiles
- Guaranteed access for you and another member of your team
- Programming Manual
- Monitoring Tools
- Tools for the publishing part
- Unlimited apps to connect social networks and RSS feeds (alerts on a site’s updates)
In fact, it manages all your social networks in one segment with a customizable platform when the news feed appears.
Hootsuite is probably one of the social media marketing platforms that started this type of business.
It allows you to manage Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+.
As mentioned earlier, the strength of Hootsuite is definitely the platform, which is structured within several columns and, above all, can be customized.
There are social networks that follow their own method and others that do not, but in any case, you can set up news streams and adapt them to your account according to your own parameters. The usefulness of this tool is most evident when used in conjunction with Twitter. These “streams” allow you to monitor mentions on Twitter (the snail preceding the name is used to mention that user), retweets, hashtags, and private messages.
As for the analytical section, Hootsuite offers free basic reports that can be developed using pre-set templates.
However, the more advanced these reports are and the more they can be generated with data from Facebook Insights and Google Analytics, the higher their value will be, which is around $50 per report.
Despite its enormous potential, the high costs can be a big risk to your budget, especially if you are dealing with a small to medium-sized business.
In the Pro version, you get a free report every month and can add more later, but these will be marked with the final price, and this is perhaps the weak point of the whole platform.
Buffer is also a social media analytics tool, and its main feature is to organize and plan your content with ease.
Buffer offers three (3) different types of subscriptions designed according to your objectives.
The free version is actually the least used, as there are many limitations, but it is useful for testing the service.
The Awesome Plan costs $10 per month, while the Business Plan costs $99.
To get at least a realistic idea of the tool’s potential at a sustainable price, I would opt for the Awesome Plan version.
Several services are included in this version, including:
- Add up to 10 profiles such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, and others.
- Advanced post scheduling
- Planning retweets
- Add up to 2 team members
- Basic-level analytical reports
- No Posting Restrictions
Compared to Hootsuite, Buffer has less functionality as it is designed to make content planning and sharing easier. In fact, no advanced analytical reports are included.
However, it allows you to quickly plan the messaging part and to set the time at which posts are to be published, which can be changed every day of the week.
In addition, Buffer is configured with another tool called Pablo that allows you to create the right graphics and images for your post.
Another advantageous aspect of Buffer is that it can be integrated with Google Chrome, WordPress, Twitter, RSS readers (reading alerts when a site is updated), and many other useful tools for searching for content.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the analytics part of Buffer is basic compared to Hootsuite, for example.
Although its performance is inferior, you can still monitor Twitter comments, retweets, likes, and mentions on different social media posts.
It also provides integration with bit.ly (i.e., URL shortening), thanks to which you can also analyze analytical data outside the platform.
Keyhole could be called the advanced version of Buffer, as it still falls into the category of social media analytics tools but also because its primary function is related to social media monitoring and real-time campaign analysis.
The monitoring mainly concerns keywords, hashtags, and URLs of the main social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
It provides specific information on demographic aspects according to a location in order to intercept particular users with a large following, or rather “influencers“.
In addition, you can set the top influencer linked to the selected keyword.
This will allow you not only to analyze your campaigns at an early stage but also to discover the content with the highest engagement rate.
In addition, thanks to Keyhole, you can monitor chat conversations taking place online on your social media pages.
So, the positive aspects are as follows:
- It provides real-time information on user interactions within the campaign and geographic location data, as I mentioned earlier. You will need these metrics to understand in detail the “reach” of the audience towards your company.
- You can download the results of all your reports, so you can share your data and compare them with your colleagues, identifying strengths and weaknesses.
Note that tracking data can be saved at any time and reused in the future. It also provides integration with Intel (a company specializing in computer applications), which identifies the types of influencers that are closest to your industry, showing you which content will resonate most with your audience.
Of all the social media analytics tools, it can be said that Keyhole is definitely the best tool for measuring the number of impressions and the number of social media followers. Harness the power of social media analytics to drive growth and improve audience engagement.
One of the most widely used is Talkwalker, a comprehensive and reliable tool that monitors all types of social media, not just the most popular social networks. Talkwalker’s strong point is the possibility of analyzing not only textual but also visual data thanks to an image recognition technology that not all tools possess. In addition, it allows you to keep an eye on several social networks and gain valuable time thanks to a convenient planning tool for reports, campaigns, etc.
Talkwalker exploits modern technology called “artificial intelligence” to provide the most accurate data possible. Among other aspects, it is exploitable in 187 languages.
Cyfe is an American business intelligence-based social media analysis software that provides a dashboard that can be monitored in real-time. This tool connects numerous databases, plans data retrieval, analyzes them, and develops them to offer the social media manager the possibility of implementing appropriate marketing strategies.
Cyfe is a freemium tool, i.e., software that is partly free and partly paid for. Predictably, the premium version provides additional functions, the most useful of which is knowing the characteristics of visitors (age, gender, city, etc.).
One of the most widely used and reliable tools is undoubtedly Google Analytics. This software is able to answer exactly these questions:
- What is the impact of social media (based on the most interesting metrics for the social media manager)?
- Which social sources bring the most visitors to your site?
- What and where do visitors share?
In addition, it helps us understand the conversion rates that a given social media site achieves, the path that led the visitor to their social media site, and finally, the dissemination of content by site users.
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FollowerWonk is a tool specialized in the analysis of a single social network: Twitter. As the name already suggests, this tool focuses on the followers of the company’s Twitter profile and scans their most important characteristics; this is useful for building buyer personas. Among other functions, FollowerWonk studies its own niche of contacts to find new influencers and allows the analytical report to be easily shared.
IBM is a famous US telecommunications company, one of the first to be established and develop in this sector worldwide. IBM offers a social media analytics service whose functions facilitate the analysis of websites: it collects data, organizes it, and analyzes it according to criteria preset by the manager. Make informed decisions and drive results through the actionable data provided by social media analytics.
This tool focuses on business objectives using so-called business intelligence, all aimed at increasing the company’s turnover.
It is impossible to list all the social media analysis tools in the world; they are truly many and rich in functions. This spread is the result of the importance that new media have gained over the last decade. As a result, we have seen the emergence of many new professional figures, as well as the professional branch of so-called social marketing. Understanding social media analytics is crucial for optimizing your digital marketing strategy. With Digital Coach’s master’s degree in social media marketing, it is possible to study the subject in depth and try to become a social media manager. Alternatively, the WEB ANALYTICS SPECIALIST certification could be for you!
Contact an expert for free and define with him how to acquire the necessary skills to best interpret the Analytics of your social channels