So, you’ve created your company’s Twitter and Facebook profiles and LinkedIn is also on the list of your networks. You answer (don’t you?) your potential clients’ questions and feedback, create and post awesome content, follow your target audience on Twitter in order to get your highly desired 8-15% followers in return, thank your followers for support, etc..

But what about social media analytics? What do you do apart from all the above-mentioned in order to track down the effectiveness of social network activities and increase traffic and sales rates? If you engage the audience in social networks then you should be able to calculate the outcome. Otherwise, how are you to find out whether you are working in the right direction and your target audience is willing to hear you and get involved?

Sounds tricky but analyzing social media effectiveness is easier than it seems if you take into consideration such social media analytics tools and indicators as engagement rate, reach and follower growth, acquisition and assisted and direct conversion.

Engagement rate – Social media engagement metrics

Whether you’re using social media analytics software or Google Analytics for social media, you can always measure social media engagement track such stats as conversation, applause and amplification in order to understand whether your audience is interested in your content. These metrics reflect the current number of activities in your social network accounts. But how meaningful are those metrics if you look at them separately?

Looking at a quantity of likes, reposts, comments and the number of followers you may get misled by the seeming “success” when the growth of certain metrics is viewed as the indicator of highly effective marketing in social networks. In reality, these figures on their own with no connection to other important data only contribute to the WOW-effect.

However, the totals of the above-mentioned stats can be used for calculation of more important metrics such as engagement rate and sometimes the cost of the engagement.

Engagement rate figures answer 2 most important questions:

  • How relevant and interesting your published content is?
  • Are you engaging the audience/ communicating with the audience that really wants to hear you?    

Depending on the final information that you are after, you can calculate your audience engagement rate dividing the total number of likes, reposts and comments in a certain period by the total number of your followers:

Engagement / Reach

Calculating an engagement rate by dividing total engagement by reach can help you to evaluate the quality of content you publish. However, it may no longer accurately reflect the situation with a significant increase in reach.

Engagement / Subscribers

This method of calculation gives you a relatively stable indicator that allows evaluating how engaged your audience is at the moment. Calculate it by day and present the results in a chart (for this aim you can use both paid and free social media analytics tools) to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. Once you start tracking engagement rate, you can improve your content plan consciously and follow changes in engagement.

The formula, which you probably have already come across:

engagement rate

Engagement ratio can be also calculated for paid campaigns by dividing engagement by the number of post views on a given day. There are also other ways, depending on your goals. At this stage, for paid campaigns in social media (promotion of publications) you can also calculate the cost of involvement (involvement volume / money spent). But is it a critical evaluation, if you can calculate the cost of a new subscriber, who came from this campaign, as well as its conversion to the ultimate goal – the registration / purchase, etc.? Most likely, this information will be interesting only for advertising agencies and their customers (please correct me in the comments if it is not).

What does affect engagement rate? First, it is content you post, the time you post in and understanding of your target audience.

The growth of the number of your followers also affects the engagement rate. With each new subscriber, the general characteristics of your audience is changing. Therefore, dividing engagement by the number of subscribers and reach, we get lower results. These indicators should be considered together.

Reach and Follower Growth – Social media analytic tools

For most companies the main aim of their presence in social media is to generate leads. But let’s start from the very beginning. In order to start attracting traffic from social networks to your site, you need the (involved) subscribers and reach.

The reach is the number of unique users who saw your content. The reach affects everything: engagement, likes, comments, clicks, feedback, etc..

facebook reach

In native analytics of social media networks, the reach is shown for both a certain publication and a page as a whole. Why is it important to separate these two metrics? When you publish your content only once a week, your post can receive a great reach, but the reach of your page will be extremely low. If you post too often (let’s say, 5 times a day), the high reach of your page will offset the low reach of certain publications. Of course, it is best to find a middle ground.

The coverage of Facebook is also divided into organic (people who saw your post in your stream), viral (user’s friends saw the post in your stream when he commented on a post or shared it), and paid (the reach of promoted posts). One of the trends of recent years is the rapid decline in Facebook organic reach. And it seems to me an incredibly precise definition of what is happening in Facebook – «pay-to-play».

Potential reach. Unfortunately, the potential reach that is offered by social networks – is a beautiful number detached from reality. You can share viral content, but you will not get even close to the impressive figures that social media networks showed you. The growth of your audience and engagement metrics, despite the fact that they may not look impressive, are more realistic assessment of the potential reach.

To assess the potential reach and increase your audience, you can start by counting the number of the friends of the involved subscribers, an audience of your competitors, as well as the involved users, not yet being your subscribers. Reinforce this information by segmenting user by engagement and geography; compare the portraits of old and new subscribers.

Once you have identified and examined the main group on which you need to influence, you will be able to assess the potential reach and create your own truly effective list of growth-hacks for social networks.

Acquisition – Social media data analytics

Despite the fact that traffic from social media in most cases significantly inferior to the organic traffic from search engines, the percentage of return visits from social networks is several times ahead of Google indexes. You can check it in Google Analytics right now.

Speaking about attracting users from social media, we should start with the frequency of acquisition. The indicator divides visits to your site into two main categories: new and repeated. While repeated visits show the effectiveness of your content marketing and audience engagement on social media, new acquisitions display whether increasing the reach of your publications you get a rise in the number of transitions themselves.

What can affect the acquisition? Of course, first, it is content you post and how you interact with your audience.

Among many strategies that allow you to turn social media into a real customer acquisition channel, I think particularly interesting strategies are:


Participation in Twitter chats. Chats in Twitter can be a great opportunity to communicate simultaneously with a large number of people interested (or who might be interested) in your product. The more you participate in chats on Twitter, the more recognition your product gets. You can also use the chat rooms to promote articles from your blog that are relevant to the topic of the chat. Here you can find a large list of popular chats.

twitter chat

Working with influencers. Define the influential people in your field and people who often mention keywords you are interested in and add them to private Twitter lists. Connect with 2-3 users from your list daily. In this case, tweets should not be necessarily associated with your brand, and can affect the related topics. If you still want to post links to your site and do not want your posts to look like spam, try to provide links on your blog with relevant content.

Facebook and VK.com.

This social media network is not only about entertainment, corporate content or any other kind of content. The level of customer support can also affect the quantity and quality of leads.

80% of social media users prefer to communicate with brands via Facebook. Why? Because it is faster than via email. 50% expect to receive support in social networks, and only 23% of the present in social networks brands really provide it. You’ve heard that a bad support experience spreads quickly. However, fortunately, the positive experience disperses very quickly too; word of mouth in action. Users want to interact with you via social networks, so give them the opportunity!

For LinkedIn main acquisition strategies can be: getting acquainted with influential people, participating in group discussions, reposting your articles from the blog, etc..

All social media strategies that allow increasing traction deserve a separate article. But I would like to come back to the evaluation of the effectiveness of your social media marketing. Can you calculate relationships on social media? No. Speaking about the effectiveness and ROI, you compare the money and time spent with the reached goals.

Because even brilliant relationships with your audience on social media are useless without conversion. Therefore, if you decide to measure referral traffic from social networks, take another step of analytics for social media and measure the final conversion to registration or purchase.

Direct and assisted conversions – Google Analytics social media tracking

Let’s start this block with checking four main ways in which users of social media networks can come to your site:

  1. Social Network > Direct link to a site
  2. Social Network > An article in a blog with a link to your homepage > Lead
  3. Social Network > Gated content (to get to the article or download anything, you ask to log in or leave personal information) > Lead
  4. Social Network > An article in a blog > Registration form, placed in a blog

gated content

These ways are different, and they won’t instantly lead to the desired result – the registration, sale, etc.. Before attracting users to your website and making them come back, you must clearly define your ultimate goals: what conversion into sales/registrations/etc. you want to see?

At the same time, you must understand for yourself, traction and conversion cannot be achieved solely by selling posts. The permanent placement of such kind of content – the surest way to lose an audience.

You can start counting your conversions by the last click from social networks, attaching to UTM codes to your links and enjoying social media analytics free in Google Analytics. However, direct referrals do not give a complete picture of how well you build relationships and the audience loyal to your brand on social networks.

The majority of your posts on social media won’t convert leads into clients. But let’s imagine a situation: someone found you on social media, opened your site and quit without a conversion, then came across you site again and finally made a conversion. Where social media networks a direct source of this conversion? No. Did they help this user to find you? Absolutely. So, here we talk about Assisted conversions.

Assisted Conversions occur in cases when a user arrives at your site, then closes it without making the conversion, but later returns from a different source and makes it. The higher the value is, the greater contribution a social media network makes.

assisted and direct conversions

Comparing the Assisted conversions with the Last click conversions in Google Analytics, you can determine which social networks are perfect for building relationships with existing clients, and which are perfect for making new deals.

So, when you know the best social media analytics practices and are able to calculate these metrics the activity of your subscribers in social networks cease to be an ephemeral performance indicator, “success theater”, and becomes the basis for assessment of engagement and ROI, evaluating the quality of the incoming traffic, and the effectiveness of your content marketing.

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