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The Complete Guide to Social Media Analytics

By Matthew Wood June 16, 2017 Growth marketing

Proving that social media is a valuable marketing tool for your business can be difficult. Trying to find accurate analytics can be even harder, especially when there are so many different platforms and softwares available that provide social stats.

How many times have you looked at stats from your social media management software, and found that it completely differs from your Google analytics stats, which then differs from the stats coming directly from the social platform itself?

Yes, it can get confusing…

One of the most common questions we hear from our clients is, ‘What do we measure social media by? How do we measure ROI?’

There are so many different stats, it can be a minefield to understand and present the right ones.

So, being the nice marketing agency we are, we have put together a handy guide for you!


Before you start, have an objective in mind

Yes, it sounds simple but before you start digging into any sort of analytics, you need to know exactly what you are looking for and why.

Far too many marketers will just report on everything from follower numbers and impressions to engagement rates and social conversions, thinking that all of them hold some sort of weight together.

So let's break it down into objectives.

Website traffic

One of the best ways to prove that social media is working for your business is to measure how much website traffic your social channels are sending to your website.

Why is this important? Well, it shows that your content and social proposition is compelling enough that people want to find out more about your business.

A best practice for posting on social media is to regularly include a link pointing back to your own website.

What’s the best way to measure this? Google analytics will show you social traffic via the acquisitions tab and this normally provides the most accurate stats. It also breaks it up into channels so you can see what your best performing social channel is and then invest more content into it.


Engagement is a difficult metric for businesses because it doesn’t automatically indicate a conversion or sale. You can’t really put a monetary figure on engagement. It’s often called a vanity metric (similar to numbers around followers and likes) due to not having real tangible value.

But this doesn’t mean you should write it off as a useless stat. Engagement rates can be a clear indicator on how well your content is resonating with your social audience. When you know the type of content that is and isn’t working, you can then optimise it for future content.

So look out for key stats like engagement rates, impressions and, instead of looking at likes, try and aim for more shares of your content overall.

What’s the best way to measure engagement? Well, it’s actually through the platforms themselves. The big three - Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin - all have built in page analytics and insights. These are accurate as the data comes directly from the platform.

Some people may choose to use a management platform like Hootsuite or Sprout Social - while these may sometimes be accurate, they are a 3rd party and may have discrepancies between date ranges and platforms.


A conversion is when someone takes an action and becomes either a lead or a customer on your website.

This is the big stat for social media but it can be confused, especially if you have paid social campaigns running along organic. So let's split this out a little further.


To define an organic conversion: when someone sees an organic post on one of your channels, clicks through to your website and either fills in a form or buys a product.  

Measuring your conversions is incredibly important as it shows a clear ROI for your social media effort. The best way to analyse organic conversions is to use Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager and set up goals.

Goals allow you to measure when someone lands on a certain area of your website, like the thank you page for filling out a form. You can then attribute this traffic to social easily.

Paid social

Paid can be a little more difficult to attribute because it will still come to your website under social traffic.

There are a couple of ways you can get around this:

  1. All of the big social advertising platforms now have tracking pixels which you can install on your website. You can track conversions that come directly from these campaigns using these pixels.
  2. Use a UTM tracking code on your link URLs. Links with UTM will be picked up by Google and will be stored as a campaign rather than normal traffic. If you have goals set up correctly, you should see conversions from your paid campaigns. Google has a handy free tool to build UTM strings.

As part of setting up goals, you can also set monetary values for each type of goal. So if one of your goals is ‘checkout complete’ for a certain product, you can assign the value to the goal. This enables you to see a clear ROI.

Don’t forget about your stats

The most important thing to take away from this blog is not to neglect your social analytics. Far too many businesses will keep their social channels ticking over without even looking at what is working in terms of content, and what that effort is bringing back into the business.

The surefire way to prove that social is working for your business is to be able to accurately report it.

demonstrating roi

Matthew Wood

Matthew Wood

Matt joined ClientsFirst in July 2016, having previously specialised in social media for a range of client-side brands; from radio, to fashion, property investment to music. At ClientsFirst, Matt gets involved with all of our digital marketing, leading the way on our clients’ social media efforts, PPC and contributing to the team on areas such as SEO, Website UX, creative development and email marketing. When he’s not our social expert, Matt focuses on his music. A keen singer, guitar, piano, bass and drum player, Matt plays live when he can and otherwise spends time in his home studio. When he needs a break from that, it’s Sci-Fi at the cinema, or a few beers at pubs around the Cheshire countryside.

Demonstrating ROI to the board