Growing your business using social media is like preparing for a marathon. It needs a meticulous strategy built from the ground up.
I’m going to say something that may surprise you coming from a software research and reviews publication.
Social media analytics tools won’t grow your business.
You read that right. Having a system to collect social data or run social analytics is obviously the first step in growing your business, but it’s how you use your social media analytics tools that will lead to results.
Social media analytics tools are used to interpret buyer interactions on social media channels into actionable data points. This can include running sentiment analysis, trying out and identifying other social trends. These tools often allow for social listening, social media monitoring, and even influencer marketing.
Without a strategy, though, social media analytics tools are just extra noise for business owners.
But if you’re able to translate an actionable insight from monitoring your social platform or social platform into a business decision, then you can use your social media analytics tools to grow your business.
I’ll share how you can put a social media analytics plan into practice. To help illustrate the steps, let’s also use running a half marathon as an analogy.
1. Fitness test: Monitor and analyze social data to mine insights
When you decide to run a half marathon, you might start with a fitness test to know your baseline before trying to set a concrete goal. This is the point where you build a hypothesis, which could be something like: “I’m more likely to finish the marathon in under two hours if I can run each mile in under 9 minutes and 5 seconds consistently.”
Similarly, when planning for your business, it helps to start with a hypothesis or something you want to prove through testing. In this scenario, the hypothesis could be: “Facebook followers are more likely to have a higher check average at my restaurants than non-followers.”
If you don’t have a hypothesis just yet, here are some questions to ask as you look into your social media data:
- Has a social metric changed significantly over time?
- What social media channels lead to the most click-throughs?
- What percent of those click-throughs are leading to product sales?
- Do I notice any usage or engagement patterns based on geography?
- Are customers in certain parts of the country more active on Twitter than Facebook?
- Does a younger target audience consistently make purchases through Instagram while an older audience doesn’t?
- When I partner with an influencer, do my posts see higher engagement metrics?
- Are there any social media post outliers or unique things I see in the data?
It’s OK even if your hypothesis is incorrect for now, but it’s always helpful to start somewhere, and then test your social media performance. Plus, you can always change your hypothesis later on.
2. Set a concrete goal: Determine the business outcome you want to achieve
To continue the race analogy, let’s say the concrete goal you develop is: “Finish a half marathon in under two hours.”
Similarly, based on the business hypothesis that Facebook followers are more likely to have higher check averages, let’s say the business outcome you want to achieve is: “Increase average check amounts across all restaurants.”
You may be thinking, that doesn’t have anything to do with my social media presence. That’s OK. It’s a best practice so that you can really know how your social media strategy is contributing to your business’ bottom line.
3. Calculate how you’ll win the race: Tie social media metrics to your business outcome
Now it’s time to tie some metrics to your goals.
Your timing is 9 minutes and 30 seconds per mile right now, but to complete the race in under two hours, you need to cut that time by 25 seconds. That’s your metric for the half marathon.
For your business, the metric will be acquiring more Facebook followers since you think that Facebook followers tend to spend more money than average at your restaurants.
To tie a business goal to the right metric, essentially you need to answer two questions:
- What am I trying to achieve? (The goal)
- How will I know I’ve achieved it? (The metric)
If the “what” you’re trying to achieve is to increase followers, then the “how” for achieving that is to increase followers, let’s say by 5% month-over-month.
Many business owners make the mistake of looking at easily measurable social media data and then loosely trying to tie that back to business outcomes. That won’t help you grow your business. But if you start with a business outcome and then tie metrics to that outcome, you’ll be ahead of the game.
4. Hit the jogging trails: Execute your plan
This is the point where you lace up your jogging shoes and hit the trails hoping to cut 25 seconds from your time.
If we talk about your business, it’s the time to get really tactical with your strategy. You can detail the specific ways you plan to meet your business outcome.
I won’t get into the specific tactics in this article, but I bet you can start thinking about how you might go about getting more Facebook followers. For instance, you could increase engagement, and to do that, you may decide to run a social media campaign.
5. Cross the finish line: measure, recalibrate, and optimize
Congratulations! You’ve now run the half marathon, or successfully put a social media strategy together and executed on it.
Take a minute to enjoy your victory. Whether or not you finished the marathon in under two hours (or met your business outcome), it’s important to celebrate your accomplishment of simply doing the thing.
Once you’ve had a glass of champagne and a full body massage, it’s time to evaluate whether or not you met your goal. If you did, great. If you didn’t, don’t beat yourself up about it. Think what you can change about your training to succeed in the next one.
From a business perspective, check if your social media campaign has had the effect on check averages that you wanted/
If not, then it’s time to take a step back and figure out what needs to change.
Do you need:
- A new social media tool to better measure specific metrics?
- New dashboards to get a better picture of your data?
- To launch a different social media campaign with better targeting?
Don’t just measure—use insights to improve
Now that you have your first social media marketing strategy under your belt, you can simply optimize for next time. The more you put this type of strategy into practice, the better you’ll get at uncovering insights and making business decisions based on the data you’re looking at.
The last thing you want to do as a business owner is pay for a reporting tool and not use it to grow your business. Measuring is a good first step, but it won’t take your business to the next level. You need to mine that data for actionable insights so you can constantly improve; and maybe you’ll even come first in the next half marathon.
For more information about buying a social media analytics tool, check out our buyers guide with information about what this tool can do and how much it costs: Social Media Analytics Tools Buyers Guide
If budget is tight and you want to see what free social media analytics tools are out there, check out our article: 5 Free Social Media Software Options to Boost Your Company’s Digital Presence
Looking for Social Media Monitoring software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Social Media Monitoring software solutions.