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Basic Social Media Analytics Guide: Definition, Metrics, Tools & Examples

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Why is social media analytics important?
Social media analytics is important because it helps in developing a successful social media marketing strategy. It also enables you to track your progress throughout a given time. With the right social media analytics tools, you will be able to see what’s generating results among your campaigns and, in general, social media channels.

You know there is immense power in social media. Not only that, as a cost-efficient channel, it presents a wide range of marketing opportunities for different types of businesses, small or big. Social media, when used right, can drive overall revenue growth and get you ahead of your competitors.

But the excitement ends where tracking results begin. Where do you even begin with a slew of campaigns and posts spread across a variety of channels to monitor and analyze? Enter social media analytics. It helps you sift through the noise in your channels so that you end up with numbers you can quantify and qualify.

You have at your disposal social media monitoring tools or data analytics software to crunch the numbers. But, first, you need to understand the basics of social media analytics to optimize the tools. And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in this guide. We will provide you with the things you need to know about the meaning and the importance of social media analytics. Questions like–what exactly is social media analytics? and what are social media insights you’ll gain from analyzing all your social data?–will be answered with clarity, as well.

social media analytics

Data analytics plays a crucial role in forming business strategies. It comes in many forms, but its main goal is the same for many: gain actionable insights about the business. And with social media currently being used as a powerful marketing tool in businesses of all sizes, it is only natural that social media analytics follow behind in relevance.

Social media today is a good platform to know real-time consumer preferences, behavior, and feedback. According to the 2018 Sprout Social Index, about 97% of social advertisers chose Facebook as the most useful social media platform. Meanwhile, 55% of social marketers reported that their top concern is ROI. These figures reflect the drastic changes that social media has undergone in terms of marketing. Social media platforms now hold more significance than ever in the business and marketing landscapes.

Source: Statista Research Department (2018)

Gathering social media analytics data is just as important as interacting with your consumers on social media. Social media analytics can help you better understand not only your audience but also your competitors. Social data can help you create better content for your site and better quality of products and services for your business. With the social metrics you will be given access to, you can form an analytics-driven business strategy. To better understand social media analytics basics, the following sections delve into the social media analytics overview and provide a more comprehensive discussion.

1. What is social media analytics?

Social media analytics is an approach to gathering data from various social media channels. The social media activities—updates you posted, engagement of your followers on each post, the comments, and other actions—are altogether combined to form exceptionally detailed, useful data. Nowadays, social media analytics is the basic foundation enabling enterprises to maximize and enhance customer experience through services, marketing, support, and more.

It is one thing to use social media as a form of marketing, but it’s another thing to actually know whether your social media marketing is working or not. This is where social media analytics come into play. With the use of social media analytics tools, public information of consumers on the Internet will be gathered and analyzed for you.

Social media analytics are what identifies primary business goals, determines social key performance indicators, and measure and analyze social data. It also encourages social collaboration to improve brand awareness. It other words, social media analytics can be considered as your guide to building an effective business strategy.

Social media listening is a term often confused with the social media analytics definition. However, it is important to note that social media analytics is broader than that, and social media listening is only one of its aspects that covers learning about your audience.

social media analytics comparison

2. Uses of social media analytics

There are many functions of social media analytics. Among these are seeing data patterns, trends, and relationships that you might have overlooked otherwise. Its most useful function, however, comes in the form of providing you the intel you need to develop a better quality of products and services that is in line with the demand of your consumers.

Social media analytics analyzing your past posts can help you find your unique best time to share. This gives you better exposure among many online users. This also leads to better engagement with your followers as it takes advantage of the time when there are more of your followers online.

Social media analytics is also used to measure how much engagement, traffic, and sales you are driving. This way, you’ll be able to track which of your campaigns and ideas are effective and which are not.

Other functions include the following:

  • Identifying unmet consumer needs based on their negative feedback for your competitors
  • Providing you real-time notifications to inquiries and complaints of consumers
  • Giving you insights on new products, services, or content to develop
  • Taking a peak at competitors’ progress so you can get ahead of them
  • Monitoring your brand
  • Analyzing imagery, emojis, sarcasm, and slang posted online about your brand

Source: Lyfe Marketing

3. Examples of social media analytics solutions

Social media channels for businesses are important, especially since it encourages real-time customer service. However, some companies have trouble managing their multiple social media networks. Lousy management then results in compromising the quality of customer service and experience. This is where social media management solutions come in handy.

There are quite a number of social media analytics examples available in the market today. These solutions can track the progress of social media marketing campaigns, inbound and outbound brand mentions, and the effectiveness of social media presence. Some of these solutions allow an easier method of posting the same content all over social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

There are several types of social media management software depending on their functionalities. These are social listening software, social media listening, social conversation software, social marketing software, social analytics software, and social influencer software. They all, however, aim to get a deeper insight into customer behavior, preferences, and satisfaction.

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How marketers define engagement when measuring social success

How marketers define engagement when measuring social success
Likes and/or comments: 72%

Likes and/or comments

How marketers define engagement when measuring social success
Sales/lead generation: 70%

Sales/lead generation

How marketers define engagement when measuring social success
Shares and/or retweets: 62%

Shares and/or retweets

How marketers define engagement when measuring social success
Increase community engagement: 59%

Increase community engagement

How marketers define engagement when measuring social success
Inspiing customers to take action: 32%

Inspiing customers to take action


Source: TopRank Marketing Friday News (2015)

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But what are the best social media analytics tools? Here are some examples of social management software solutions with some robust set of analytics tools that you can choose from.

Examples of social management software solutions:

  1. HubSpot Marketing is an inbound marketing software that helps create, launch, and distribute efficient campaigns. It also offers marketing automation that goes beyond traditional email marketing.
  2. Zoho Social is a social media management software that has collaboration features and social media performance reporting tools. It also has monitoring tools to allow you to keep track of customer interactions.
  3. Hootsuite is a social media software that enables the management of multiple social media accounts in one place. It also comes with social analytics reporting tools and is equipped with a robust social media dashboard.
  4. Sprout Social is a marketing software that comes with a well-organized dashboard. This dashboard is divided into six sections: messages, tasks, feed, publishing, discovery, and reports.
  5. Salesforce Social Studio enables global collaboration through flexible content collaboration, creation, and social publishing. It also offers reporting and analytics tools for insights on your marketing campaigns.

4. Benchmarking and reporting tools

The benchmarking and reporting tools that you can find in several social media analytics dashboards are among the most important functions of social media analytics. They help in knowing where you stand among your competitors.

Data procured from these tools can give you valuable insights as to how to address the unmet demands of consumers and get ahead of your rivals. At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to find out which content in your social media drives more engagement among your followers.

Benchmarking tools are used in tracking the performance of all brands in a particular industry. It provides a comparison of an activity to a certain performance standard. This is done by comparing the performance of an activity to a previous accomplishment.

The social media stats generated by internal benchmarking can tell you if your posts are doing better or worse. Competitive benchmarking, however, can help you understand what your competitors are doing on a regular basis. This way, you will be able to come up with a better social strategy for your business.

On the other hand, social media reporting tools can generate data about the progress of your social media campaigns. It measures the performance of your social channels, your PR activities, and your marketing campaigns. Reports can come in multiple file formats, such as Word, PDF, Powerpoint, or Excel, that you can easily share with your team. These reporting tools will allow you to learn from each customer’s experience in engaging online with your business.

hubspot social media analytics

Session metrics, paid vs. organic social, as seen on a HubSpot dashboard.

5. Most often used social media metrics

Social media metrics gauge the impact of a particular social media activity on a company’s revenue. This is now made more important as e-commerce taps into Instagram and other social media networks. These metrics are the output of observing activity on social media platforms. They provide insights regarding the consumers’ perception of a particular brand, product, or company.  provides and gathers information about how a brand, product or company-related topic is being perceived.

With the number of social media platforms, they all, of course, also have their own native analytics. For example, in Facebook, the Insights tab contains several metrics generated from your posts. Twitter has the Twitter Analytics that can measure and boost your impact on the micro-blogging site. Meanwhile, Pinterest and Instagram require you to have business accounts first before actually seeing the analytics data.

Some of the most often used social media metrics include the following: content analytics, click-through rates, audience sentiment, engagement, conversions, and impressions among others. Here is a quick breakdown of some of these social media metrics.

Types of social media metrics:

  1. Content analytics:  This provides visibility into the amount of content created, the nature of that content, and how it is used. It uncovers patterns and trends through the use of trends analysis, natural language queries, predictive analytics, and contextual discovery.
  2. Click-through rates: Click-through rates reflect the number of times webpage viewers click a given banner ad.
  3. Audience sentiment: Audience sentiment is a natural language processing (NLP) approach to analyze a body of text and determine its emotional tone.
  4. Engagement: Number of likes, shares, comments, and clicks are only some of the measurements that make up the engagement metrics of a social media platform. Every network has its own sort of engagement metrics that varies in naming conventions such as shares for Facebook and retweets for Twitter.
  5. Conversions: Conversion metrics are used mainly by online shopping sites. This keeps track of the number of people purchasing from your site. Social conversion happens when someone visits your site and makes a purchase on the same or later date.
  6. Impressions: This kind of metrics help in brand awareness and perception. Impressions let you know the number of times a post shows up in someone’s feed timeline.

social media impact

6. Types of social media measurements

Social media analytics is all about measurements. Taking advantage of these measurements is one of the best customer service tips you’d be grateful for. Social media measurements compute the popularity of a certain brand or company through the information extracted from various social media channels, such as blogs, Wikipedia sites, news sites, and other micro-blogging sites.

Most of these social media platforms have built-in measurement tools that show the relevance of specific online content.

Here are some examples of measurement tools that most social media channels have:

  • Followers
  • Impressions
  • Shares
  • Page likes
  • Page previews
  • Post clicks
  • Post reach

These measurements are not merely there for display. When analyzed, they have a deeper story to tell about the success or failure of your online content. These social media measurements can help in improving your business and building your brand. Thus, it pays the extra effort keeping track of them from time to time.

With these tools, you’ll get to know your audience better and drive you to creating and sharing better content. They can also figure out the best times for posting content and the best hashtags to include in your posts. Overall, social media measurement tools let you know if your content is having the right amount of impact that meets your goal.

Importance of Social Media Analytics

Social media is taking the marketing landscape by a storm. As the number of social media users continues to grow, so do the digital footprints they leave behind. With social networks becoming more prominent in product searches and e-commerce, now is the right time to invest in social media analytics tools for broader and deeper insights about the preferences and behavior of your potential customers.

Having several social media channels to execute your marketing campaign can be tricky, but the right social media management software and analytics tools can ensure that all your efforts are not going to waste. Understanding your audience and following their behavior toward your online content can give you an edge in the business. Thus, it is equally important to align your social marketing strategy and sales goals according to the data that the analytics tools tell you.

Taking advantage of social media analytics has more gains than losses to it. You can monitor the performance of your posts an campaigns, measure traffic, and know the demographics of your audience. This contributes to improving your customer experience strategy. Social media analytics is the way to go if you want to efficiently determine what’s successful, what’s failing, and what’s there to improve on your brand.

Nestor Gilbert

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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