By Becky Livingston
The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook
Social media presents communicators with an unparalleled ability to measure and track a deluge of data in order to derive insights on the effectiveness of their campaigns. This has made analytics one of the most critical tools in the social media marketer's arsenal.
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According to Technopedia, social media analytics is an “approach of collecting data from social media sites and blogs and evaluating that data to make business decisions.”
It is also used to gauge real-time decisions, sentiments, consumer choices and intention for a brand and/or product.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Have you ever wondered what you really need to measure in order to gauge your success on social networks? The social conundrum is that we often find it hard to report on the success of given initiatives, while at moments we get overwhelmed with a stream of stats and indicators, struggling to make sense of it all. Below is a list of key performance indicators, for several of the major platforms that you could be measuring.
While the data can be sliced and diced per day, per week or per the past 28 days, I tend to prefer the more aggregated view (28 days) in order to compare on a month-per-month basis.
Most of these metrics are provided when you extract a report, either at page level or post level, for a Facebook company page. Each of the analytics below is a common KPI. What you want to do is tie those directly to a business goal.
- Page likes (new likes, unlikes, growth vs. previous month and YoY)
- Total reach (organic, paid)
- Total impressions (organic, paid)
- Engaged users (page level)
- Engaged users (post level)
Business goal: Increase leads by 10 percent over a period of three months.
Facebook KPI: Engaged users by post level and page level. If this number is increasing, consider targeting this audience with a sponsored post to complete an action on your website, such as join a mailing list, download a document, attend a webinar, etc.
Lawrence B. Goodman & Co. PA, a New Jersey firm specializing in dental practice accounting, posts to its Facebook page on average five times per week. In mid-July 2015, it promoted one of its downloadable whitepapers organically to its more than 150 followers. In addition, it boosted the post to its target geographic and demographic audience for a small fee ($5 for one day) through its Facebook page.
The boosted post results showed it:
- Reached 2.8 thousand new audience members;
- Generated 4 new page likes (three on the page and one through a share);
- Increased engagement by over 10,000 percent from a traditional post to a boosted post; and
- Produced one new share from the organic post itself.
When correlating that Facebook action to the firm’s website page, one can easily track website visits and downloads from the Facebook page for this particular post to increases in website activity. Further, form download completions are also directly related to the Facebook page via a traceable URL. Thus, demonstrating the use of Facebook boosted posts for downloadable/traceable content to the firm’s business goal of increasing engagement among Facebook members.
There are several third-party tools available that provide information that Facebook’s algorithm is missing. Razor Social offers this short list of alternatives. Many of those on the list extend beyond Facebook. Review each to see which most suits your needs.
- Scoreboard Social
- Social Bakers
Twitter also has analytics available, but there are numerous ways to gather knowledge about an account and Tweet’s performance other than within Twitter, e.g., Hootsuite reports. As with other social media platforms, tying social media metrics to business goals is key. If you have no intention of doing that, then refrain from using social media all together.
Here’s an example: Increase website visitors via social media by 25 percent over a 12-month period. If your target social platform is Twitter, you would want to monitor the inbound traffic to your site from this platform via your website analytics. However, if you want to gain granular data about particular products, services, downloadable content, etc. I suggest using a traceable URL in each Tweet you plan to track.
Hypothetical firm Cooper and Ganache CPA wants to increase website traffic from Twitter by 25 percent over a period of 12 months. To ramp up for the increase, it creates a series of downloadable documents, tip sheets and guides that will be housed on its website. Additionally, it generates a series of how-to videos that will also reside on its website. Finally, it will add a “join our mailing list” feature and landing page to its website with complementary landing page to collect leads.
Each month, on Twitter, it will promote several of those new content elements, one week a white paper, the next one or two videos, the third join our mailing list. Each of those unique website landing pages would have a unique URL associated with it; so, when you view the website analytics, you can see which Tweet drove the traffic to the website.
The Tweets in this example would look something like this:
- Getting #married? #FinancialPlanning eBook makes great shower/wedding complementary gift. Get your copy today! [link]
- Struggling to read a profit + loss statement for your biz? Watch this 3-minute video to figure it out. #ProfitLossStatement #BusinessTips [link]
- Increase biz productivity w/ monthly #AccountingTips. Join our mailing list for free! [link] #BusinessTips
In each case, the link would go to a unique landing page on the website, which is determined by the URL. To further segment the link, change the campaign term and campaign name to reflect the item you’re promoting, in this case the Financial Planning eBook.
The outcome of the long URL is www.CooperGanache.com/FinancialPlanningeBook?
Since the URL itself is longer than 140 characters, a Tweet’s maximum length, copy and paste that long URL into a shortening tool, such as Bitly, Hootsuite, Ow.ly, etc. to get the shortened link for Twitter. Then use the shortened link in the Tweet.
The firm’s website analytics tool should track the long URL to the inbound link (Twitter) and product (Financial-Planning-eBook).
Most Twitter analytics tools provide these KPIs:
- Follower segmentation: interests, location, gender, etc.;
- Total impressions (organic, paid); and
- Engagement rate, Tweet activity, retweet and favorites.
To monitor KPIs that are perhaps not captured within the Twitter analytics module, but that remain nevertheless very important, use third-party tools, such as those listed by TwitterToolsBook.com, including Tweet Archivist, Social Bro, MentionMap, Twitonomy and more.
In my experience, these have been the most useful Twitter metrics to monitor within a weekly or monthly dashboard, depending on your business model:
- Customer service-related issues (quantity, resolved);
- Traffic generated to your website;
- Competitive analysis (hashtags, lists);
- Questions answered or comments passed on; and
- Queries dealt through direct messages.
When producing a video then sharing it over the web, we typically focus on one number, views! While views are important, it’s also easy to buy “views” from link farms and other scam sites. Thus, it’s important to have a few more indicators to monitor in order to see how successful you are on YouTube.
From a relationship marketing perspective, consider putting an emphasis on getting more subscribers, since that is the equivalent of gathering emails and building a database of people with whom you can communicate regularly, for example when a new video comes out.
I tend to take a closer look at the Estimated Minutes Watched stat: Did people watch 5 percent of our video? 50 percent? 95 percent? It’s up to you to define what is considered “successful,” depending on length of videos, when the call-to-action shows up, etc.
In 2013, Shopify posted a blog “10 Ways to Track Video Performance.” That post is still being used as a foundation in 2015. Based on that post, below are additional statistics to consider:
- Views (organic, paid);
- Likes and dislikes;
- Source of playback (mobile, embedded, etc.); and
- EMW: Estimated Minutes Watched.
When it comes to video, do not consider it a set-it-and-forget-it medium. Effective YouTube channels can direct visitors to a website quickly and also lead to effective social sharing.
Since its Flash Mob video in 2012, Withum has produced annual videos showcasing its firm’s fun culture, resulting in thousands of hits on its YouTube channel. The residual effect however, is the amount of views its non-pop-culture videos have also received along with the increased website traffic from its YouTube channel. In 2015 alone, the firm’s “Withum Uptown Funk State of the Firm Video” collected over 10,325 views. Its complementary blooper reel for the same video had over 1,470 views at the time of this writing.
With 257 subscribers as of this writing, it’s a unique opportunity to share new video content with specific messages, calls to action and information that others can share on their social platform(s) of choice.
One of the free tools to get a better understanding of your personal or brand performance on Google Plus® is Circle Count. Ranking both individual and brand (or celebrities) profiles per country and globally, it’s a neat tool to discover influential people on Google Plus, and see how these folks perform, what they share, and so on.
- Profiles rank
- Referral traffic
The profiles rank is simply how you or your organization ranks against other Google Plus users, so the lower the number, the better it is. In fact, we all strive to be number one, right?
As for referral traffic, even though Google has recently axed its authorship program, Google Plus remains a potential traffic referrer to your website, in particular if you host a dynamic blog, or if you guest blog on recognized platforms.
LinkedIn for company pages allows you to see statistics about the company page, as well as sponsored posts or ad campaigns you may have run.
Company page analytics offer information for several areas, including reach, updates, engagement, followers and visitors. Depending on your firm’s goals, you may want to track one or more of those areas.
For example, if a goal is to increase engagement, you would monitor the engagement analytics, then cross-compare that with followers. If you’re finding the same followers are your engagers then you may have an instance of “influencers” going on. In that case, you could reach out to that select group and ask them to participate in a study, provide a review of a new product or service, and/or promote an ebook your firm is offering.
If you have a goal to increase leads by a percentage over a period of time, sponsoring posts to a particular audience group, by geography, gender, age, industry or title, makes sense. It offers you the opportunity to reach LinkedIn members you or your staff may not be connected to on personal profiles.
For me, one of the best things about LinkedIn analytics is I can quickly see what type and format of content my readers enjoy. For example, if my marketing firm were to post a series of how-to ebooks and then also videos, I would quickly be able to see what resonated more with my audience, which, in turn, informs me on what to do going forward.
LinkedIn wants you to succeed. For the major KPIs, it offers tips on how to increase activity in those areas. Let’s say your goal was to increase engagement; under the “Engagement” analytic, there is a link to a slide deck titled “15 Tips for Compelling Company Updates on LinkedIn.”
A Boston CPA firm client wanted to increase visits to its website, particularly for its newsletter signups. Rather than blasting signup notices on various social media platforms, they took a strategic approach to their plan by:
- Creating a content calendar for blog articles featured in the three newsletters;
- Posting those articles on their website;
- Adding social media posts to LinkedIn and Google Plus to increase website visits and search engine rankings;
- Emailing clients once per month with highlighted articles featured in the newsletters and blogs;
- Assigning stories to be shared by high-profile staff members, including partners, on their personal LinkedIn profiles; and
- Using LinkedIn’s sponsored posts, with a budget of $150 per month, to link back to the site content and encourage newsletter signups.
The website results for July 2015/2014, year over year, included:
- Visits were up 25 percent and unique visitors were up 31 percent
- Page views increased by 24 percent
- Organic visits increased by 20 percent, direct visits rose 43 percent, social grew by 133 percent
- Wednesdays had the most visits with 19.3 percent, followed by Monday with 17.8 percent and Friday with 17.5 percent; Saturday had the least number of visits with 4.2 percent of visits
I share the day of the week engagement numbers because it’s important to know which day(s) offer the most activity. You then leverage that information to post the most engaging stories on those days, and also to create sponsored posts on those days.
- Log in to one of your social media accounts to see what the analytics look like.
- Take note of any of the KPIs mentioned for your platform.
- Determine if those KPIs will help you measure results toward a business goal. If not, what third-party tool should you consider and what KPIs will you measure?
- Choose 2-3 social media platforms that you want to monitor.
- Identify your firm’s ranking on them.
- Write down pros/cons for each platform you’ve chosen.
- Define any stats you’d like to measure going forward.
- Determine which tools you might use on regular basis.