Whether you’re using social media to improve the power and influence of your personal brand or on behalf of a company as a social media manager, you’ll need reliable metrics to determine which of your strategies are working and which are falling flat. Unfortunately, many social media users neglect the importance of measuring impact, or simply don’t know what tools are available to do so. Google Analytics is a free resource available to anyone with a website, and it’s one of the most comprehensive web traffic analysis tools you’ll find.
With its weekly reports on your social media traffic, you’ll gain critical insights about your social media strategy, and you won’t have to lift a finger to get them.
Why Understanding Your Traffic Is Important
Measuring your traffic gives you feedback on how your marketing efforts and website are performing. When you implement a strategy or series of tactics, your data will tell you how well your effort worked. With that information, you can continue making meaningful changes that actively drive your traffic and follower interest up, rather than shooting blindly and hoping for the best.
For example, if you start syndicating a new type of content, you can use this information to measure its impact on your audience. Does it increase your website traffic? Does it expand your reach and increase your number of followers? If it does, you might want to increase the amount of new content posted. If not, you can either tweak the content, of scrap that marketing method for something else.
Ultimately, analyzing your data helps you focus on what works so you can save time and money by eliminating what doesn’t work.
Some social media platforms provide data and statistics, but usually only if you upgrade to their paid service. Instead, you can use Google Analytics for free to get the information you need about how your social media, and other marketing efforts are working.
Metrics to Understand
Once logged into Google Analytics, there are a number of significant audience measurements you can take.
Social Traffic Share
First, click on the “Acquisition” tab and click on “Overview.” Here, you’ll see a breakdown of the main sources of traffic to your site, including social visitors. This will help you understand how valuable social media is at bringing visitors to your site, especially compared to other channels. As you increase your efforts, you should see this number of visitors growing over time.
From the list under the “Acquisition” tab, you can click on the individual social platform link (i.e. Facebook), to view social traffic broken down by traffic share. This area will help you understand which of your social platforms are responsible for bringing the most traffic to your site. You can also review metrics like new session percentage, bounce rate, and average page duration to determine which platform brings the most relevant traffic—the traffic most likely to lead to a sale or your making money once on site.
From the “Acquisition” tab, drill down to “Social” and click on “Landing Pages.” Here, you’ll find the most popular landing pages from your social audiences.
This is especially useful if you regularly syndicate new content from your site because you’ll be able to see which posts and which content generate the largest share of inbound traffic.
There are several other types of reports you can generate within Google Analytics, but these three are the most important for understanding the patterns of behavior in your social audience. You can also make adjustments to these reports by adding or eliminating columns of information, or adjusting the time period displayed in the information readouts.
Setting Up a Weekly Report
Once you’ve gotten to a screen you’d like to receive regular updates on, you can set up automated reporting. Design the report with the information you want on a recurring basis, then click on the “Email” button near the top of the page.
Here, you’ll be able to set a number of variables including:
- The email addresses where you’d like the report to be sent
- The subject line to catch your attention
- The file type of the report—PDF generally works best
- The frequency that the report is sent—in this case, weekly will be ideal, but you can always change that based on your personal preferences
Keep in mind you can set this automated reporting for multiple reports—so if there are multiple metrics you want to track, you can have reports on all of them emailed to you regularly.
Start collecting these reports and comparing your results week after week. As you modify your existing strategies and add new ones to your marketing mix, you’ll get a good idea of which tactics work best for attracting the widest possible audience. The secret to social media success is trial and error, so use these reports as the objective basis for your decisions, and make regular tweaks and updates to constantly improve your campaign.
About the Author:
Larry Alton is a freelance writer who’s articles have been featured in HuffingtonPost.comand Entrepreneur.com.