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Social Media Analytics Guide for Beginners

No matter how big your business is, it is guaranteed to become bigger when it is on social media. Social media is where you can connect with your target audience more directly than on any other medium, say TV or newspapers. People consume content the fastest on channels such as Facebook and Instagram than on other media. What is trending one minute is replaced by something else the next minute.

What does this spell for businesses? This means there is greater pressure to stay relevant and fresh, in the content department. You have to constantly monitor how your content is doing on social media and how to optimize it to suit the taste/needs of your audience.

While investing in social media marketing can be very profitable, for beginners and small businesses, it can be quite heavy on the pocket. To make sure your marketing spend translates to a proper return on investment, it is important to measure your performance on social media channels. To put it plainly, you need to do some serious math. And by math, we mean analytics.


Social media analytics refers to analyzing data that is related to your social media presence. This data is available for a number of metrics that are available on all social media channels.

By analyzing the data, you gain important insights into audience behavior and the response of the said audience to your content. This has a big hand to play in how you formulate future marketing strategies.

Through analytics, you eliminate a lot of guesswork. Having solid, quantifiable data is a great confidence booster in the complex world of social media marketing. So now we come to the important question: what do we measure through analytics?


What metrics you can view depends on the social media channel in question. Since each channel is uniquely different from the other, the metrics available on each channel are also unique.

Going into the unique metrics for each channel can get confusing, hence we will discuss certain key metrics to which you should be paying attention. These are common to all channels, so understanding them will help you analyze the data relevant to these metrics.



First, identify your target audience. This refers to your followers on all social channels, and people who view, or engage with, your content.

Next, learn everything you can about them:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Growth rate
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Taste
  • Online purchasing behavior
  • Times when they come online

Why do you need to know all this? So you can make sure you connect with the right people and make them identify with your content.

More importantly, compare them with that of your competitors on a regular basis. Your popularity depends on your audience, so find out how you fare against your competitors in that aspect.


The content you publish on a social channel is the key to establishing a good rapport with your audience. How do you retain an audience, and add to them? By publishing the right content.

Create content that is sure to catch the attention of your audience. And pay attention to what type of content is popular, video, image, GIFs, etc. Understand the advantages and limitations of the channel in question, and create content suitably.

Staying fresh is the key. Be regular in posting, and find out how much response you get. By analyzing how your audience consumes your content, and how they respond to it, you can identify what works best, and what doesn’t. Keep track of when and how often you post.


Speaking of content naturally leads to the subject of engagement. The best thing about marketing on social media channels is that your contact with your audience is more personal, and direct.

People on social channels are not afraid to let you know what they think; everybody is willing to share their opinions. Keep tabs on audience reactions and comments to your content. Analyze positive and negative engagement, and keep track of all mentions of your brand name or hashtag, across all channels.

For example, in the case of Facebook, you have likes, comments, shares, unlikes, replies, etc which are your engagement metrics that need tracking. On the newsfeed of your profile on Facebook, you come across all the obvious metrics; here is what a typical Facebook newsfeed looks like:

Social media analytics guide-fb newsfeed
Of course, in the business context, you will be tracking information that is beyond what a regular user can normally view from his social account. As regards engagement, you will track not just the engagement for individual posts, but engagement at an overall level.

You need to know the rate at which engagement grows for your content over time. Compare the engagement rate with that of your competitors. Work to improve engagement levels.


This refers to how far your content has reached, in terms of how many people have viewed it, and how many times. This need not necessarily include engagement, as much as impressions. Measuring reach is imperative to your understanding of your own popularity on social.


mention sentiment
The most important question of all: what is the public verdict for your brand on social? Is it favorable or otherwise?

Measuring public sentiment is to analyze the engagement across all social channels, including negative engagement, and find out how you fare. This gives you valuable insight for improving your standards.

Sentiment is the feedback you receive from your customers, and it is important to listen to their opinion. You need to watch out for not just positive feedback, but negative and neutral sentiment as well. Sometimes, major blunders are avoided by paying attention to negative feedback.
While it is important to know what your fans like, it is just as important, if not more so, to know what they do not like. If your negative sentiment is on the rise, it is time to buckle up and tackle the issue. Your responsiveness to all kinds of feedback helps to create a good impression on your fans.




Optimize your content in such a way as to drive more traffic back to your website or social channel handle. Find out your top sources for traffic, and tap the potential of those sources for increasing traffic even more. Leverage SEO tools for this purpose.


Whatever analytics you run for your business on social, make sure you are doing it for rival brands also. It is important to constantly pit yourself against your rivals. This helps you to identify your areas of strength and weakness.

Competitor benchmarking gives you a clear picture of how you fare in your field of business. Choose tools that provide the option of competitor benchmarking, with reliable data.

For example, if you are having your Facebook page analyzed, you have the option of running it against the page of your competitor brand. You can view metrics like fan growth rate, engagement rate, top posts, etc., not just for your own page, but for your rival pages as well.




Before you get down to analytics, make sure you are on all the right channels. The top channels for marketing online are:

  • Facebook – arguably the king of all social channels, Facebook facilitates connectivity, not only between individuals but also between brands and audiences. Facebook is a great tool to promote brand awareness, and constantly connect with audiences
  • Twitter – Twitter is not unlike Facebook, except for the 140 character tweet restriction. It is also another great platform for marketing and gave birth to the hashtag, which is an important aspect of social content publishing
  • Instagram – This is the go-to place for media-sharing, and businesses are capitalizing on this in a big way. The highly visual nature of Instagram offers great scope for media-based advertising
  • LinkedIn – This is a channel where people and businesses are allowed to connect, purely on a professional level. LinkedIn caters to employment needs of the individual, and businesses can engage directly with their professional network. The audience here is more specific to your industry, so marketing here would be different from other channels
  • Google+ – this is a social channel owned by Google, and although it is not as popular as Facebook or Twitter, it is nevertheless great for SEO purposes. Google+ improves your visibility in search results
  • Pinterest – Pinterest is another highly visual platform, which people use to look for ideas. You can leverage Pinterest to build an attractive brand image, and create pins relevant to the needs of your target audience
    These channels work great for businesses of all sizes. Make sure your rivals are on these channels as well; if they are present on alternate channels, then follow them there too. Your goal should be to reach a large audience, by focusing on brand visibility.


There are many tools you can use for running analytics. These can be classified into three categories:


These tools are native to the social channel in question. For example, you have Facebook Insights, which is a tool from Facebook for Facebook analytics.

Similarly, you have Instagram Insights for Instagram.




There are software that offer a package of services, that include analytics among them. SMhack is one such social media management software with analytics for different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Using our software, you can access analytics across all channels easily on the dashboard. SMhack helps you to understand your performance by analyzing all the aspects of your social activity. You get reports of audience demographics, content publication and performance, and the engagement enjoyed by your publications.


Not only that, you also get competitor analytics, through which you can compare your brand performance with that of your competing brands. SMhack also offers analytics to measure the performance of your team. This helps to keep track of the progress made by your team. The data for all the analytics is available in the form of white-label reports, which means you can use these reports as your own anywhere else in the future.


There are often other software focusing only on analytics, like Union Metrics and Simply Measured, on which you can run analytics for different social channels. You also have tools specific to a particular channel, such as TweetStats, which is available exclusively for Twitter analytics.

So get started on your social analytics right away! And let us know what you think of this guide—is it useful? Leave a comment!