B2C Marketing Analytics for Beginners

Social Media Marketing Analytics

Social networks have become a primary place where users spend their time online. Accordingly, marketers have followed users to these sites. This lesson will give an overview of social media analytics and the metrics used to measure the channel performance.

Introduction to Social Media Analytics

Social media marketing is a type of display advertising, but specific to social network sites. There are hundreds of social media sites, but according to the Pew Research Center the 2018 most common social networks in the US in order of popularity are: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp.

On most social media sites there are two types of marketing you can leverage – organic and paid. A notable exception to this is that WhatsApp doesn’t sell ad space (yet).

Organic Social Media Marketing

Organic social media marketing involves building your own network of followers (or friends, subscribers, etc…). As a regular individual with a profile on a social network, you can post whatever you want online and have your followers see the content. Similarly, you can create an account for your organization and build its network through similar tools you’d have as an individual. You can then share your content with them or with anyone who searches for your profile. You can do this without paying the social network anything.

Here are some examples of organic marketing on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter:

Social Media - Organic Posts

Paid Social Media Marketing

Paid social media marketing involves paying the social network site to display your ads to users, independent of whether those users follow your brand on the network already. From a customer’s perspective, it can be difficult to tell the paid ads apart from organic content. But for a marketer, the social media site provides a very different experience. Unlike organic posts, with paid ads you can generally select the target audience for your ad and influence your reach with your budget. You also have different metrics and analytics tools available to you.

Examples of paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter:

Social Media - Paid Ads

Social Media Metrics

There are many types of metrics that can help you understand your advertising and how it resonates with your audience. The next lessons will go over how to measure these metrics in some of the most common social networks, but in this lesson, we’ll review the general metrics.

Reach Metrics

Reach metrics are measures of how many users you can get your message out to.

On organic posts, this would be the number of followers and how many people they helped expose your message to by sharing your content. On paid advertising, this would be how many impressions your ad had or how many distinct users saw your ad.

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics track the interactions users had with your marketing on the social network. Depending on the network, this could be the number of likes, shares, video views, comments, clicks, etc… These metrics aren’t important just for their own sake. There are many reasons why engagement matters:

  • the more time a user spends on your brand, the more they get to know you – increasing your name recognition and brand perception, priming them to buy from you in the future
  • engagement actions are typically broadcasted to the friends of the user who had the action – so engagement increases the reach of your marketing
  • engaging ads are seen more favorably by the social network site since it indicates the content is relevant to their users and not spam. Thus, many social networks use engagement as an input into their ranking algorithms, making your engaging organic posts more likely to be shown (increasing reach)

Impact Metrics

Impact metrics refer to the metrics of actions that happen on your site after the user has seen the marketing message. These address the question: what is the real impact the marketing had on your business? These metrics include traffic, conversions, revenue, ROI, etc…

On most social networks, when you use organic marketing, you can’t get metrics for these actions, which happen outside of the network and on your site. However, if you’ve tagged your post with URL tracking, you can follow behavior deeper through a third-party analytics tool like Google Analytics.

For paid advertising, however, many social network provides their own tracking tools to measure those downstream metrics on your site. You can also measure the impact metrics from paid ads using your third party analytics tool if you have the right tracking set up.

Note that the metrics you see on your third party tool will be different than those through the social network. There are many reasons for this. Some of the biggest are:

  • conversions can be defined differently across tools
  • tools can use different technologies for tracking
  • many social networks give their ads credit for behavior that happened after an ad was seen, even if it wasn’t clicked. This is a way to give credit to the view-through value of seeing your brand. However, third party platforms don’t know the ad view ever happened and can’t give view-through credit to the ad
  • social networks don’t take into account other marketing that happened between their ad and the conversion. Most third party analytics tools will take into account all marketing interactions the user had along their customer journey, assuming they clicked through to your site

In general, social networks will give you the most optimistic view of performance of their ads. They also will lead to double-counting of impact for your users that interacted with multiple channels. For example, if a user clicked on one of your Facebook ads and a few days later on your YouTube ad and then made a purchase, both platforms will take full credit for the revenue. So if you were to sum the revenue from all channels, you’d duplicate revenue.

If you use a third party analytics platform, however, you won’t double-count your impact metrics. Only one channel will get credit or the credit will be split across the channels involved, depending on your marketing attribution model. If you use the individual ad platforms, you’ll double count metrics, but you’ll also give credit to the view-through value of the platform, which a third party platform can’t typically do.

Most marketers use a combination of ad platforms and analytics platforms to get a full picture of the impact of their campaigns.

Conclusion

For each social media platform, there are many different metrics to help you understand the performance of your marketing. In the next sections, we’ll dive into several of the common social networks and describe their metric definitions and how to track them.