How do you know what’s working with your social media? And what doesn’t work?
Social media gives us a ton of data about our posts, but it’s difficult to tell the signals from the noise.
Imagine having a frame to extract signals from noise – a frame that directs you to key information about your social media performance. With this framework, you can easily identify successful posts and understand why they performed well.
The key is social media analytics and reports!
In this article, you’ll learn how to analyze, evaluate, and use your social media data to boost and report your social media marketing results – from exporting your data to creating benchmarks, to finding your best times to post.
Update: We recently launched Buffer Analysis, our social media analytics, and reporting tool, to help you grow your engagement and track your data.
6 Tips for Getting Better Social Media Results Using Data
Most tips use data from Buffer Analysis. We would love you to try them for free if you haven’t already. You can also get most of the data and graphs for free directly from Twitter Analytics and Facebook Outlook.
1. Create quick reports with just a few clicks
The most powerful tool in your toolbox: the Analyze report generator
For a very long time, we had to manually export data and create reports with spreadsheets.
We felt the pain and created a very easy-to-use report generator in Buffer Analyze. It’s easy?
Check it out!
First, identify the chart you want to include in your report.
Here are some charts you have in Buffer Analyze:
- Performance overview
- Average performance
- Metrics distribution table
- Ventilation after
- Distribution of stories
- Main sex and age, cities and countries
Then add it to your report.
In the upper right corner of each graph there is an ‘Add to report’ button. Once you click on it, you can add the chart to a new report or to an existing report.
And There you go! Your report on social networks in a few clicks.
You can also add a description and logo to your report. For each chart, you can also add a comment to explain the changes in your metrics or highlight an important detail.
Of course, if you prefer to have the raw data and do more calculations with spreadsheets, you have the option of exporting your data as CSV files.
I’ll be happy if you want to check out Buffer Analysis, our new analysis and reporting tool. It automatically calculates metrics like averages and engagement rate for you.
2. Set benchmarks for your performance
Benchmarks can be ambitious, earned, traditional and competitive
One thing we will often ask ourselves – even today – when browsing our social media stats is this:
So it’s good?
In Buffer Analyze we have several averages to work with: Average Daily Impressions, Average Likes Per Post, and Average Comments Per Post.
Then we like to increase our averages slightly so that the benchmark is ambitious. Towards the Moon!
For example, we multiply them by 1.5.
And just like that, you set yourself a benchmark!
Now when you browse your posts in Buffer Analyze, you can see at a glance which posts have gone beyond your benchmark. You can recognize your best posts in a second or less!
How often should you review your benchmarks?
Excellent question! I rethink my benchmarks whenever I notice I am hitting the benchmark more often than I am. It’s a pretty sweet science! I’m sure you’ll have a great hunch when it’s best to bump up the benchmark.
All of this only scratches the surface of what benchmarks can mean to you and your organization.
3. Evaluate your performance on social networks
Total engagement and other fun social media stats
We could all have our favorite actors, our favorite foods, and our favorite places. I have a feeling the same is true of favorite social media stats!
(For me, it’s Jennifer Lawrence, the pizza, the ski slopes, and the total commitment.)
Some statistics are more important to some people than to others.
For example, do you care deeply about traffic? Do you feel strongly in favor of awareness? Is income tracking the key to your success?
I would love to share a few ideas here, including the stat that everyone loves and the stat that everyone wants easier.
The stat that everyone loves: the engagement rate
The engagement rate is the percentage of engagement on a post out of all the impressions it gets. It’s the social media analyst’s peanut butter sandwich. Almost everyone loves it.
Finding your engagement rates is as easy as jumping into Buffer Analyze. We understand how important this statistic is to marketers, so we’ve incorporated it into the product.
They calculate the engagement rate for each post. You also get the engagement rate for posts during the selected period. And you can also see how your engagement rate has changed over time with the Metrics Breakdown Chart.
The stat that everyone craves: social media income
It’s our white whale!
How do you even go about tracking social media income? It’s not as straightforward as some of the other metrics like engagement or clicks. Yet it is possible! Here are the tools and steps that worked:
- Buffer Publish to define your UTMs
- Google Analytics to analyze revenue figures
Below, I summarize the steps:
Step 1: Set your UTMs as you want in Buffer Publish under Settings> Google Analytics Campaign Tracking.
Step 2: Go to Google Analytics and set up Ecommerce or Goals.
Step 3: After a day or two, go back to Google Analytics and get a traffic report by going to Acquisition> All Traffic> Channels> Social Networks.
Step 4: Add the conversion goals to your data table, and voila, you will see the revenue!
(Our report shows $0 because we use another tool, Looker, instead of Google Analytics, to track social media revenue.)
The Google Analytics stuff can be tricky for me sometimes! Haha, okay – most of the time it’s hard for me! I will often ask Youtube for help. There are some great tutorials out there!
And of course, those two methods – total engagement and revenue – only scratch the surface of everything that is possible when rating your social media content. We wrote an article that covers the iceberg a little more. We would love you to look!
5 Unique Ways to Measure and Evaluate a Social Media Campaign
4. Add context to the data you extract
How do you do that?
Social media can confuse especially when you’re daily and struggling to see the big picture.
Looking at major trends in your social performance is extremely helpful in seeing how strategies are playing out.
In particular, there’s this article written by the Intercom team that I love for trends. Here’s a key graphic from the article:
To begin with, it is useful to have the data on trends.
We hope to make this as easy as pie for you and your team with the metrics breakdown in Buffer Analyze. To find the breakdown of your metrics, go to the Overview tab of the Facebook page or Instagram business profile of your choice in Buffer Analyze.
You’ll see the trend of your key social media metrics, such as audience, likes, and followers.
And then once you’ve seen the trends, there are a few questions that might interest to ask:
- What caused peaks or valleys?
- When will we reach the next milestone?
- Where will we be in the next (x) days or months?
- What factors are we not considering?
I’m just realizing that it might be a little difficult to say ‘What factors are we ignoring?’ Kind of like asking you to know what you don’t know! If that’s helpful, here are some factors that I often overlook in an accident:
- Most popular times for sharing on social media (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. New York time)
- Big announcements or campaigns
5. Find your best time to post
There is no ideal time to post. All of this is unique to your brand.
We used to think there is a universal best time to post.
Instead, we believe each brand has its own set of best times to post. Here are some tips on how to find the time:
How to find the best times to post on Facebook
In your Facebook Insights page, Facebook shows you when your Facebook fans are online.
With Algorithmic News Feed, it may not be as important when you post to Facebook, but I think it’s still helpful to find the best post times to generate initial engagement – the first signs of quality content that could cause Facebook’s algorithm to show your post to more people.
There are two schools of thought about the best Facebook post times. The first is to post when your fans are most active on Facebook so that they are more likely to see and interact with your posts. The second is to post when your fans are least active because there is less competition for limited space on users’ News Feed.
I recommend you test both ideas to see which one works best for your brand. For example, we have had some success with off-peak signage.
To get this data, go to your Facebook page> Insights> Posts> When Fans are Online.
How to find the best times to post on Instagram
Similar to Facebook, Instagram provides similar data for business profiles. You can find it under the Audience tab of your Instagram Insights.
How to find the best times to post on Twitter
Since Twitter still uses a reverse timeline, finding the optimal post times is still very relevant.
While Twitter Analytics doesn’t provide similar activity data on followers, Twitter tool like Followerwonk can tell you when your followers are most active.
We believe that if you tweet when your followers are most active; they are more likely to see your tweets. I still recommend that you experiment with different times using the data you have.
In Buffer Analyze, we now suggest the best day to post to maximize your engagement rate, based on your previous posts. We are currently working on providing suggestions on the best times to post. Keep an eye out for him!
With this data, you can experiment with different post times to see if you can get better results. An experimental timeline on Twitter, with five posting times, might look like this:
- Three hours of posting in the three most active hours
- Two hours of post in the least active two hours
6. Reuse your best posts
Repeat your successes by reposting them after a few weeks
So, one of your tweets takes off. Likes, retweets, and replies are coming. What should you do?
(First, celebrate, of course!)
To maximize the value of this tweet, you might repost it – ideally with a different copy several days or weeks later. If you repeat this feed for a while, you can create a good repository of social media posts – which have proven to be excellent – that you can fall back on whenever you encounter a block from a social media manager.
It is good to remember that all networks are different. You can post the same content more frequently to Twitter than to Facebook and more frequently to Facebook than to Instagram. For example, you can repost a piece of content a few days later on Twitter, but give it a few weeks on Facebook and a few months on Instagram before reposting it.
We hope that one of the fastest ways to find your top-performing posts (across networks) is to use Buffer Analyze. At a glance, you can see the different the engagement generated by each post. You can also sort them by a particular type of engagement, such as impressions.
You can also get similar data from Twitter Analytics (Tweets> Top Tweets) and Facebook Insights (Posts> All Posts Posted> Sort by Audience or Engagement).
When you run out of inspiration for new articles, you can head to your Buffer Analyze dashboard and grab an important article that is several weeks or months old.
We wrote a full blog post a while back on the power of reposting the same content and how we’ve reframed our reposted content in case you’re interested in more. Here is the link to the full article:
Why Share Your Blog Post More Than Once on Social Media: The Case for Reposting Content
What’s your favorite analysis tip?
There is so much you can do with your social media data, and I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface with these seven tips. I would love to learn from you and know your favorite analysis tip or trick!
How do you use your data on social networks? How has it helped you with your social media performance?