Offering a service to others involves many moving pieces. As you are performing your job, it is important to be able to show the success of your work. This helps build trust and understanding between you and the people you meet with or report to. Today, we will focus on solving the problem of showing social media’s value. Social media plays a very important role in building brand awareness. It also helps companies develop trust with current and potential customers.

You Zig, I Zag

Proving the effectiveness and value of social media is hard. It isn’t as straightforward as other forms of advertising or interacting with customers. When tracking PPC (pay per click advertising), for example, you can look at how many leads you have gained. The cost per click determines the quality of the lead. Setting a goal and checking on it in Google Analytics can give you a snapshot of how effective your ads are.

Social media has a lot of unique elements compared to other forms of advertising. Because of this, its default generic analytics rarely match up in the most effective way. Trying to use the same metrics to measure social media success as we do to measure PPC Advertising success makes social appear to be underperforming.

It stands to reason social media needs its own metrics. But what does that look like? And how can you share it with your team in a way they’ll understand?

The Purpose of Social Media

Understanding the purpose of social media is the first step in tracking it. The primary focus is almost never direct conversions, but to build trust and strengthen your brand awareness. It is also to bring a larger volume of people into the top of your sales funnel, where other outlets of your marketing can take over—like your killer content and amazing user experience!

Your social media should pull people into your brand as they are researching. Social media can keep your brand at the forefront of their thinking as they are making decisions. It can then convert them into leads as you provide greater value through social media.

It’s essential to remember this:

“Ad copy is essentially sales copy. But with social media ads, it can’t look or feel like sales copy at all. There is no intent on social media platforms so you can’t come in with a hard sell like you can on AdWords. That’s a big reason why the conversion cycle for social media ads can take a bit longer than other marketing efforts and have more hurdles to jump through.” -Social Media Examiner [emphasis mine].

Tracking Tricky Traffic

Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel are a few of the best places to track your social media. With the use of UTMs and Google Analytics Goals, you can measure real success and show data in a far more granular, understandable format.

So what do you want to track in social media? The way visitors come to your website is a big one. Sometimes new visitors make the bulk of your traffic. Other times, knowing how many returning visitors you have is going to be more valuable to your company. This is easy to find in Google Analytics under Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Channels. If you change to a pie view and switch “Contribution to total” in the righthand dropdown menu to “New Users” or “Returning users” it’ll be simple to see where social makes its mark.

Google Analytics Traffic Overview from different channels by percentage

Understanding the relationship between Facebook, Google Analytics, and multi-touch attribution is important here. It helps you know what you can and cannot use, and what would be helpful to track in the long run. While high-intent advertising methods like Google Search Ads may be covered well by last-touch attribution, tracking social media takes more consideration.

Making a template with what you want to see is a great place to start. You can then tweak it as you are looking for different information. Set up tracking in your Google Analytics default channel groups as soon as possible for long-range results. Google Analytics doesn’t pull data retroactively, so you want to get to the point where your results aren’t skewed as soon as you can. (For example, July results will look lackluster if you pull data starting in January, but tracking wasn’t started until June).

Pretty in Color

We recommend having at least one month of data for decent metrics before pulling reports. Again, tweaking the numbers is key. A huge data range is going to make changes look small, where a small data range is going to make changes look huge.

In the context of presentation data, it’s especially important to remember these five things:

  • When you’re tracking conversions from a new channel grouping you’ve created in Google Analytics, such as Facebook Ads, you can’t pull data from before tracking was in place
  • The Model Comparison Tool in Google Analytics defaults to “MCF Channel Grouping.” You will have to change it to “Default Channel Grouping” to see channel groupings you’ve created, such as Facebook Ads
  • Tweak the models! Last-touch conversion attribution is rarely the right metric for social. Try last non-direct click or time decay instead.
  • If you know your average lead cycle, (how long it takes to close a deal) it may be helpful to change the Lookback Window in Google Analytics from its default 30 days to a different range.
  • You can change what goals are shown. Showing a phone number click goal may be unhelpful for social if your advertising is focused on form fills. Make sure only relevant goals are shown in the comparison.

Google Analytics model comparison tool being used to measure the conversions coming from different channels

Know Your Stuff

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
– John Wanamaker, early 1900s

A large part of showing the worth of social media is being able to explain what your graphs and charts say. It isn’t terribly useful to tell your boss that social is bringing in the best “Last Non-Direct Click Conversions” if they don’t know what that means (or if you don’t!).

Art Unlimited excels at showing our clients the value of their social media and other marketing campaigns. We know our stuff and break it down in a way our clients can understand. Contact us today to learn how Art Unlimited can help your social media deliver quality results. You can also follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our blog for more great marketing tips.