Social networks are active watering holes for your target customers to gather and connect. So obviously, your brand needs to be there, too, sharing updates, photos and timely offers and deals.

But can you really say that the time, money and resources you spend on your social media strategy is paying off? Are your efforts translating into improved brand awareness, word-of-mouth, site and store traffic, and even sales?

If your answer is: “Hell, I don’t know,”… you’re not alone.

After all, 60% of social media practitioners say measuring the return on investment for their efforts is still a top-three challenge for their campaign planning and strategies. While it’s still an uphill battle for many brands, there are a lot of social media analytics tools now available to help take the weight off of businesses’ shoulders. For instance, Curalate has solutions that can help you measure the impact of your social efforts — especially for your posts that feature imagery, which can sometimes be difficult to measure.

Before you look into solutions, you need to think big picture. You need to figure out which metrics you should track and why. Here are a few best practices that any marketer can start using today:

First Thing’s First: Set Your Goals

Like any marketing campaign, you need to always assess and reassess your goals. Whether you’re crafting a multi-channel, long-term brand-awareness campaign or a short-term initiative, you need to figure out who you’re trying to reach. Most importantly, you need to determine what you want them to do exactly.

Depending on your business, what you sell and what your goals are, you may be asking your social followers to do different things. (In the marketing world, we call these things “calls to action” or CTAs.) Some potential CTAs include:

  • Visiting a store
  • Visiting a web site
  • Learning more about a specific product or line
  • Buying a product
  • Filling out a form
  • Sharing a product or message with social circles
  • Downloading an app
  • Re-tweeting or re-sharing branded content

This may seem like a lot of upfront work but trust us: Establishing these goals early on will help you determine what to track and, most importantly, help you use analytics to determine whether your social posts and imagery are helping you accomplish these goals.

Start With Basic Engagement

Facebook like

Some marketers call these vanity metrics but they can actually provide you with a great summary of how your content is resonating with your followers. Examples include:

  • Number of post “likes” or “loves”
  • Total number of comments
  • Shares/re-posts
  • Number of brand mentions
  • Number of hashtag mentions

Taking a high-level look at your social media analytics, you can quickly identify which posts have the most impact. Don’t take these numbers at face value. Use them as a starting point for testing and refining your social messaging and imagery. For example, if a lifestyle image receives more likes and comments than a standard product image, continue posting more authentic photos and see if they receive the same positive response.

Get More Granular

Once you have the basics in place, you can get a little more fancy with your metrics. For example, you can divide your number of post comments by your total number of followers. This is called your “conversion rate” and it helps you see whether a large fraction of your audience was moved by your social content and, eventually, compelled to share their feedback.

You can also refer to the number of likes a post gets and divide that by your number of followers to calculate your “applause rate.” Similar to conversion rate, this metric helps you get more value out of your basic engagement metrics.

(Note: These metrics were developed by author, public speaker and digital marketing expert Avinash Kaushik. If you don’t know him, check out his blog and read his books. You won’t be sorry.)

Analyze Your Audience and Their Actions

analyze audience

As we noted earlier, some marketers are skeptical of metrics like total number of likes. Think about it: how many times have you scrolled through your Instagram feed and tapped that little heart icon with reckless abandon?

Our sporadic social media behaviors lead us to believe that correlation doesn’t imply causation. There’s really no hard proof to show that just because someone liked your image, they ended up visiting your site, purchasing your product or visiting your location. That’s why savvy brands are trying to include more CTAs that drive followers to a new destination or channel. If your followers are intrigued by one of your posts and click on a link, it’s safe to say that the content was impactful and the CTA resonated with them. Some actions you can track include:

  • Links clicked within social posts
  • Links clicked in company bio
  • Buttons clicked in social ads

When you use a tool like Like2Buy, you can see even more value. Not only can you make your Instagram content shoppable, but you can track which images your followers clicked, and whether they clicked to visit your web site or product page from that image. You’re able to see whether your social investments truly led to a sale.

Other, more advanced analytics metrics you can track to determine the value and impact of your social content include:

  • Hourly/daily follower growth
  • Total impressions
  • Post reach
  • Post engagement

Getting into the nitty-gritty details of your followers’ behaviors is great, but you can do even better using social analytics tools to understand your audience, their location, age and gender. Combined, this data can help you paint a detailed picture of your audience, their behaviors and what type of content they respond to.

Start Making Smarter Decisions

On the surface, these metrics can help your team make a powerful case about the value of social media and engaging on a diverse range of networks. But don’t look at these numbers in a vacuum. In fact, social insights and key performance indicators can tell a powerful story about how your content (written and visual), products and overall brand engage and excite consumers. Share any interesting trends or findings with your other marketing cohorts, as well as those your e-commerce, advertising, creative, merchandising and even your store teams. They can help inform their strategies and perfect their efforts, allowing them to:

  • Craft more compelling images for emails, social posts, web pages, etc.
  • Create more impactful content messaging and CTAs
  • Tailor assortment and digital/store displays based on local tastes and preferences

This is only scratching the surface of all the ways best-in-class brands can track social data and use it to their advantage.

If you want to see how Curalate can help you use data and insights to turn your visual content into powerful marketing assets, request your demo of the technology today.