Social media can be one of those areas of the business where you can spend a lot of time and effort. So you really need to know that the content you share on your social media channels is doing something useful for your business.
I’m going to make some general points about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram because some of the principles apply to all four channels. I’m not going to talk at all about Pinterest and I’m not going to talk about social media advertising. What I’m talking about in this episode is purely organic social media. That is, the posts that you post for free. How are they performing? How are they working?
Why follower numbers aren’t important (but you will track them anyway)
Any professional Social Media Manager or social media expert in the field will say, “Don’t pay attention to your follower numbers!” This figure is purely a vanity metric. It’s just something we look at to make ourselves feel better. But actually, everybody looks at their follower numbers and there is nothing I can say here that’s going to make you NOT look at the numbers of followers that you have! What I will say is don’t be lured into looking at your competitors and thinking that they are doing so much better than you on social media because they have more followers. There are plenty of ways that you can buy followers. It’s bad practice. I don’t do it. But your competitors may be doing this. And actually, what you don’t know is maybe of their 10,000 followers 9,500 are Russian bot accounts. So don’t be fooled by looking at somebody else’s numbers!
Beyond follower numbers
Going beyond follower numbers, there are so many different statistics that you can track and measure on your social media platforms. Let me tell you where you need to go to find that information.
- If you go on to your Facebook business page, there is an insights tab at the top
- If you go on to your LinkedIn business page, there’s an analytics tab
- On Instagram from your grid, click the three lines at the top right of the screen, and there’s an insights tab there.
- And if you’re on Twitter, you log in through the desktop and you look at Twitter analytics.
Measuring reach and impressions
One of the basic measures to look at is the reach of your posts or the impressions of your post. These are two different things. Reach is about the total number of people who have seen your content. So if 100 people have seen your content, that means its reach is 100. Impressions is the number of times your content has been displayed on a screen. So if somebody has seen your content three times, that’s three impressions rather than one person.
Each platform gives you slightly different information. Instagram, you can choose to look at either reach or impressions. LinkedIn gives you impressions and Facebook gives you reach. Now, you can get really kind of hung up on this but I would recommend that you don’t need to. Actually the most important thing is that you track the same thing. You can measure performance month by month, or pop in each week and have a look at how your content is performing. But make sure you’re comparing same thing each time. That way, you’ll get an accurate measure of performance generally. I think it’s important to track one of those figures because it’s about how widely your content is being seen.
Remember, algorithms on each platform mean that not everybody is going to see your content. But at a surface level, this figure is about understanding how many people have seen each piece of content.
This is what you’re really trying to achieve on social media. Engagement is the number of times number of people have liked, commented, shared your content. So it’s how many people are actually doing something as a result of looking at what you have posted. You can go into each individual post and add up how many likes, shares comments that you’ve got in each one.
Having done that you can work out something called the engagement rate. On each platform, you can work out the engagement rate by adding up the number of engagements a post receives, and dividing it by the number of impressions and expressing that as a percentage.
I’m sorry, it feels like Primary School maths but this is a really useful figure to look at. In May 2020 ContentCal shared a blog post with some helpful information with some general industry figures. ContentCal is a scheduling tool for social media.
Of course, there are a number of factors that impact upon those figures, not least that we are in a global pandemic! Also big companies with huge followings are going to have quite different engagements to small businesses. But let me give you some kind of rule of thumb figures which you might find useful.
- On Facebook 5% is considered a good engagement rate
- It’s much lower on Twitter, between 0.5% and 1% engagement
- On LinkedIn, ContentCal suggests that about 2% is good engagement, but up to five or 6%, depending on the content that you’re sharing
- On Instagram around 2% engagement rate is considered good.
So you can see that those figures are really quite small. And you can be looking at a post thinking, oh my goodness, only three or four people have liked or commented. But actually if you’ve got a fairly small following you could be getting extremely good engagement on that post. So this is why percentages are useful. You can compare that figure across different posts or different weeks or months. And you can track how well your content is doing by that percentage rate.
Your marketing goals
So what else can we look at when we are measuring our social media performance? Well, if you have set some marketing goals, your social media should be contributing towards them. That might include web traffic, newsletter signups and online sales.
So to ensure your social media is effective, you should track where your website traffic is coming from. Look regularly at your Google Analytics which will show the traffic that is coming from your different social media channels.
Improving your performance
And if all of that checking to find how your social media is performing sounds like hard work, actually, the point of it is to ensure that you improve your performance. So you learn what’s working well, what’s not working so well and you take steps to improve.
That might be about improving the type of content that you’re putting out. It might be about looking at different times of day to post for example, or different frequency. There are analytics in each platform that will tell you precisely when your audience is online. For example, if you use Facebook, you can track hour by hour when your audiences online and you can use that information to help you post you know where more people are likely to see it.
So the whole point of tracking and recording all those different performance measures is to improve your social media performance. And to achieve even more signups or online sales, or people listening to your podcast or whatever it is that you are trying to achieve by running a social media platform in the first place.
The key points here is, regardless of which social media platforms you’re using, check regularly how your content is performing.
Make a note, try different things and analyse the impact that that has. If you post more video, for example, or if you post five times a week, rather than three times a week, or if you post at lunchtime rather than at tea time, measure that. Always be looking to improve using the information that the different platforms are giving you.
If that feels like hard work, then that is definitely something I can help you with. Do get in touch and book a Power Hour where I can audit your social media platforms, and suggest improvements.