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3 must have tools to determine your social media success

There is a great deal to relish about working in the digital realm but perhaps the most significant advantage is the opportunity to measure the results of your work. The potential to gauge success in concrete ways is what attracts me to digital communications.

Despite the fact that digital measurement has been available for at least a couple of decades, I’m often asked how to determine the effectiveness of online marketing and communications, particularly of social media efforts. In fact, an astonishing 47% of organizations fail to measure the return on their social media and content efforts, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute. Another 18% don’t even know if they are measuring their digital strategies!

To help prime the social media measurement pump, here are three tools to measure the effectiveness of social media efforts. While there are dozens of other tools out there, these three will get you started and give you some incredibly rich and helpful information from which to draw insights.

1. Web Analytics

Ensure your website is set up with web analytics such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics. Using web analytics, you can monitor and measure key metrics such as the volume and quality of traffic your site is receiving from social media channels, how visitors behave on your site relative to your goals and which social channels, content, messaging, and promotions are driving the best performance.

Using web analytics you can also determine the level of engagement from your social media traffic, as these visitors move through your site and understand how they consume content, length of visit, downloads, info requests, sales and more. These measurements help tell a more complete story about how your social media efforts are performing rather than reporting only on likes, shares and mentions.

2. Platform Insights

The social platforms you use offer a variety of measurement opportunities. For example, Facebook Insights allows you to see how well your content is performing in terms of reach, impressions and engagement and can break down analytics by post, paid vs. organic, and many other categories. Twitter Analytics offers similar measurement to help determine which content is resonating with your target audiences. These tools also provide insights into the demographics that are engaging with your content, allowing you to understand if you’re reaching the audiences you desire.

3. Social Media Listening

Social media listening aggregates mentions of a brand, products or other keywords and allows you to learn about a variety of performance dimensions and target audiences. Some of the more effective tools are NetBase, Brandwatch, and Hootsuite. By using listening software, you can learn how your brand is performing across several social channels relative to competitors, specific keywords, audiences and more. These powerful tools can help you determine the reach of your message and the type of sentiment or reaction it is evoking. They also offer insights into new product opportunities, customer service issues and other areas beyond just communications.

These tools are powerful, but they can be meaningless unless you are able to compile the information and use it. Here are four steps to follow to utilize the information you gather:

Step One: Review your business and communication goals. Determine which metrics and insights are important to understand as you look to evaluate your social media communications. Focus on the most important metrics and information.

Step Two: Implement the tools listed above. Once you have these in place, begin reviewing data and pulling out the metrics and insights that you identified in step one.

Step Three: Bring the data and insights together into a cohesive story to help you explain to yourself, your organization and other stakeholders what you’re observing. Outline your goals, your supporting activities across social media, and layer in the insights and findings from your analysis.

Step Four: Develop recommendations for improvement and implement adjustments to your plan.

If you are able to get through these steps, you will be on your way to social media measurement rock star status.

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