| Jun 14, 2023 | | 12 min read

10 benefits of social media analytics critical for small business success


Quick: name three social media metrics off the top of your head. Are they all vanity metrics?

Most small business owners know about follows, likes, and comments, but social media agencies need to dig deeper. While such engagement metrics can be helpful, these so-called vanity metrics are definitely not the most important for small businesses to consider.

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Other, potentially more important, metrics include conversion rate, brand awareness, click-through rate, cost-per-click, and even average bounce rate. The big-picture understanding of whether your social media strategies work requires metrics and analytics that cross social platforms and include user interaction on your website. How do you capture all that data and use it to improve social media marketing performance for yourself or your clients? You use the right social media analytics tools.

Discover 10 important benefits of social media analytics below.

1. Improved audience understanding

One of the most important guidelines for social media management is that you must understand your audience so you know how to engage with them. By monitoring analytics, you can learn:

  • Who your audience is. Are they old or young, what’s the average income level, where do they live, and what types of careers do they have?
  • What your audience likes. Do they enjoy funny video content or are they looking for more serious how-to tips? If you don’t know, you risk falling flat with content you publish.
  • What your audience doesn’t like. Are you likely to alienate your audience with some tongue-in-cheek or slightly risqué humor, for example?

The deeper you dig into the details about an audience, the more informed and targeted your social media content can be. Here are some examples:

  • Your audience really likes cheese. Even if the business doesn’t provide food services, if social media analytics pick up comment trends centered on cheese, you can test out memes and other content that include cheese.
  • Your audience is 80% people under age 30. This fact might lead you to create content targeted to young families, people in early parts of career growth, or adventure seekers rather than those concerned with retirement or midlife matters.
  • The majority of your audience has blue-collar jobs. A brand that offers financial advice to such an audience might tailor it to individuals with hourly-wage-based positions rather than salary positions or discuss matters such as invoicing and billing for jobs related to electricity or plumbing in this case.

2. Improved content strategy

Social data analytics help you understand what type of content performs best on each platform as well as for specific target audiences. For agencies offering white-label social media management, this level of understanding is critical, as teams are making constant decisions about social media marketing in varied scenarios for different brands.

Good agencies start with baselines — knowledge of what performs on different platforms and in each industry overall. Analyzing which posts receive the most engagement and drive business-facing metrics, such as click-through and conversion, make it possible to constantly improve each client’s social media outcomes. Appropriately tailored content almost always outperforms content created only with general best practices in mind.

Example: GoPro

GoPro has millions of followers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but it has the most followers on Instagram (Instagram). The camera company succeeds on Instagram by posting images, videos, and captions that perform well with the active, outdoor enthusiasts that make up much of its target audience. GoPro has also clearly learned that user-generated content — specifically interesting user GoPro videos — garner lots of engagement.

While GoPro shares some similar content on Facebook and Twitter, it uses those other platforms more for building brand awareness, providing how-to content, and engaging users via events. This is smart, because out of the three platforms mentioned, Instagram is the clear winner for engagement with videos and images.

3. Increased engagement

Vanity metrics are types of social media analytics that indicate how popular a post, brand, or profile is. They include follows, likes, shares, and comments. Some businesses chase vanity metrics in the hopes they will go viral, but that’s not always a good use of social media marketing resources. Ten thousand people might enjoy a funny meme, but that doesn’t mean any of them will buy a product.

That being said, engagement does matter — you want high engagement from the target audience that’s potentially interested in the business’s goods and services. When coupled with other social media analytics, engagement metrics help you understand what’s working so you can do more of it.

Example: PlayStation creates community

Social media ideas for businesses are easy to come up with when you study brands that are succeeding on your favorite platforms. From 2014 to 2019, PlayStation grew its Twitter following by an impressive 376 percent (Unmetric). It did so with a strategy that paid attention to engagement and delivered what followers wanted:

  • Trailers and first-look content at upcoming games
  • Unveiling of promotional posters
  • Gameplay footage from users
  • Answers to gamer questions

In short, PlayStation engages its audience by creating and supporting a community and making followers feel like part of a special club.

4. Improved customer service

The benefits of social media analytics go beyond social media marketing performance. Studying social media analytics can help you identify customer complaints and other issues trending in real-time. By addressing issues quickly — and even without a customer contacting you directly — you can improve brand reputation and customer satisfaction.

Example: Starbucks offers individualized customer support via social media

As a huge brand, Starbucks has a potential excuse to forgo individual interactions in favor of larger messaging — and yet it doesn’t. Starbucks works to answer customer questions on social media and makes it a habit to share user-generated content in a friendly, community-building way. The brand has more than 11 million followers on Twitter, which demonstrates the power of the individual-touch (Twitter).

5. Competitive analysis

The right social media analytics tools let you keep tabs on competitor activity, including where competitors are succeeding, what they’re saying about topics that might be relevant to your clients, and what the target audience is saying. When you can analyze your competitor’s social media strategy, you can tailor your own or those you create for clients for better success by:

  • Capitalizing on trending topics. Obviously, unique value propositions and brand voice are important. You never want to copy what others are doing without a good reason. At the same time, if everyone in the industry is talking about something, your spin might be important for your target audience.
  • Protecting brand reputation. A proactive response to competitor claims about you or your clients — whether overt or subtle — can help protect online reputation.
  • Shining within content gaps. When you keep track of competitor strategies, you can identify gaps in your niche that aren’t being addressed or served on social media. By stepping into those gaps with your content, you can meet the needs of the audience in new ways and stand out from the crowd.

6. Better ROI tracking

The right tools and data provide valuable insight into the ROI of your efforts. For example:

  • Website traffic tells you whether social media work is driving people to the site. All the likes and comments in the world don’t create sales. You must demonstrate that your social media efforts are driving traffic to websites and other locations where purchase decisions can occur.
  • Conversion rates let you know whether you’re driving the right traffic. Pay attention to what happens when traffic moves from social media. Does it hit your website and bounce right away, or do people stick around, clicking through to other pages, signing up for newsletters, or entering the sales funnel? That’s the difference between driving any traffic and driving targeted traffic.
  • Sales figures help you know whether your social media efforts are aligned with business goals. If traffic isn’t ultimately driving customer numbers, there may be a hole in your social media or content marketing strategy.

Knowing how to report social media analytics to stakeholders can be critical for ongoing success, especially when you’re selling social media packages to clients. When you can demonstrate ROI to the C-suite, others on the marketing team, or your clients, you get more buy-in for your efforts. That leads to increased funding for social media marketing and trust in the work you do.

Analytics also apply to paid reach, helping you understand how your social media ads are performing. Click-through rate, conversion rate, and other similar metrics offer insights to help you tweak ad campaigns for optimal performance. Analytics inform ad-based business decisions such as:

  • How much to spend. If you know ads are driving large numbers of sales, it might make sense to invest more. Good analytics also let you know when you hit saturation — the point when more ad spend doesn’t generate more return. You obviously want to stop right at peak ROI without heading down the other side of that hill.
  • When to spend. Analytics help you understand the best time to spend on social media ads. Retail businesses targeting holiday shoppers may beef up ad spend in the fall while summer vacation businesses might find ads do best in the late spring and summer months, for example.
  • Who to spend on. Past ad performance helps you understand what type of audience to target with future ads for optimal ROI.

Why social ads are a must

Organic reach on social media can be almost nonexistent. On Facebook, average organic reach is around 0.07 percent (Forbes). Standard posts may only be seen by a small portion of your followers without strong engagement strategies, and they are often never seen by individuals in your target audience who aren’t already following you. Ads help you increase reach and engage new audience members and sectors.

As an agency providing social media services to others, knowing how to optimize ad performance is critical to ongoing success. Well-managed sponsored posts and other ads can substantially increase overall performance, making this a high-value service for your clients.

8. Better influencer & partnership marketing

Social media data can help you identify influencers that are most likely to resonate with your audience. It might be an influencer the target audience is already following, someone talking about a product organically, or someone with values that pair well with a brand’s message. Tracking engagement rates and follower demographics helps you choose the most effective influencers for each brand.

More than 90 percent of brands have used influencer marketing to meet goals such as (The Social Shepherd):

  • Increasing awareness of a brand
  • Reaching a wider or different audience
  • Increasing advocacy for the brand
  • Boosting conversions and sales

Example: Dunkin’ Donuts and Charli D’Amelio

In 2020, 16-year-old influencer Charli D’Amelio wasn’t shy about sharing her love of coffee beverages from Dunkin’ Donuts on TikTok and other platforms. Dunkin’ capitalized on this by partnering with D’Amelio. The donut and breakfast beverage brand created a signature drink called The Charli.

The resulting social media marketing campaign, which featured D’Amelio, drove an increase in Dunkin’ app downloads of almost 60 percent (Tubefilter). It’s an excellent example of how analytics help a brand know when someone is organically praising a brand or product and can lead to winning influencer partnerships.

9. Improved crisis management

The Dunkin’ example demonstrates what to do when someone is talking positively about a brand or product on social media. But what happens when mentions cast the brand or product in a negative light? Keeping an eye on analytics helps you use social media in reputation management to identify potential crises early and respond quickly and effectively to prevent a larger problem from developing.

Example: Pepsi’s rapid backpedal

In 2017, Pepsi inadvertently staged a crash course in how to use social monitoring in crisis management. It released a video featuring Kendall Jenner and others in a story the brand says was meant to convey global unity. The story included elements that were a misstep for the culture at the time, as evidenced by a fast and furious backlash on social media (AOL).

Pepsi responded to the growing crisis almost immediately. Within 24 hours, it stopped the campaign and pulled the ad. It also quickly issued a statement on its platforms apologizing that it had missed the mark with its ad — the fast response was praised by many and is one reason the brand experienced only a minor hiccup from the crisis.

How do you respond to crises brewing on social media as efficiently as Pepsi? Learn how to present social media analytics in a way that marketing teams and business leaders can make active decisions about responses in real-time.

10. Better overall strategy

Any one of the above benefits might be enough to pique your interest in social media analytics. But the truth is that social media analytics provide valuable insights into every aspect of your social media strategy. By analyzing metrics from engagement to conversion, you gain insights that make it easier to tweak campaigns and strategies for continual improvement.

These benefits require fast, easy access to social media metrics, though. That’s where Vendasta’s Social Marketing tool comes in. Get detailed post engagement statistics for each post and oversight of holistic social media performance from a single dashboard. You can test it out with a free 14-day trial to discover how social media analytics can benefit you.

Frequently asked questions about social media analytics

How do I choose the right social media analytics tools for my business?

Start by defining your needs, including what social media tools you use, who your audience is, and what you need to know about your audience, audience behavior, and the performance of your social media marketing efforts. Create a wishlist that encompasses features related to those needs. Think about how you want to see information — is your team adept at dealing with raw data, or do you want visual dashboards? Choose social media analytics tools that check the most boxes on your wishlist.

Can social media analytics help me understand my audience better?

Analyzing the right metrics can help you understand who is engaging with your content, how and when they engage, and what content seems to best serve audience needs. When you can capture the overall sentiment and trends in comments and messages, you can dig even deeper into your audience’s response, and this understanding can help you shape social media efforts in the future for improved performance.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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