5 Things to Look for in Social-Media Analytics Social media ROI is a top concern for many brand's social media managers. PR and marketing pros can tackle the measurement beast through these five tips.

By Beki Winchel

This story originally appeared on PR Daily

Not every professional gets excited about analytics, but that doesn't mean they're not important.

NUVI, a real-time social media analytics platform, had this to say about social media managers who create successful online branding efforts:

Not only do they understand their brand, customers and fans alike, they also completely understand how to translate that into engaging social media. They understand that unless the content grabs the audience's immediate attention, they are just one click away from being ignored.

These are five things to look for when collecting—and deciphering—social media analytics:

1. Let your audience guide you to new places.

Studying a social media platform's analytics not only can let you know whether you're on the right path with ongoing branding and engagement efforts, but also can determine the direction of your future efforts.

For example, if you discover an active crowd that skews toward women through your organization's Facebook Insights, you might ask yourself whether your brand is a good fit for Pinterest.

Shell posted the following tip on its LiveWire blog:

Don't fall into the all too tempting trap of engaging in every form of social media out there. It will likely cost you because you will likely find that you cannot devote the time to maintaining and engaging effectively on them all. Choose the right social media channel and devote time to it.

2. Topic-specific interests trump demographics.

PR and marketing pros know there is no such thing as a "general public."

When you use a spray-and-pray campaign approach, not only will you not effectively evaluate your efforts, but you might end up wasting a lot of money delivering your message to people who couldn't care less about what you're saying.

Many brand managers have sent out targeted messages on social media, only to see interest from audiences never even considered in the planning process. This doesn't mean there's a "general public." Social media is just highlighting the importance of finding those who care about your message.

Identifying demographics is a start, but once you find those people who are really interested in your product, service, or cause, your message will go much further.

3. Vanity and engagement numbers should tie into ROI.

More and more pros are realizing that vanity metrics aren't everything—not by a long shot. Though it's true that you have to have followers to hear your message, that's only the beginning.

Vanity metrics such as "likes" and followers—along with engagement metrics such as retweets, shares, and comments—must tie in to your goals to prove social media ROI.

For example, if you're trying to get audience members to read the new company blog, looking at page visits, time spent on particular pages, and social media shares of blog posts will let you know whether your promotional tweets and Facebook posts are working.

"It doesn't have to be anything too complex," Adam Singer, a Google Analytics advocate, told Convince & Convert. "You can build it in a Google doc, and you could trend over time your amount of work in certain things, and then tie that to outcomes."

4. Numbers and sentiment outside branded profiles matter.

It's easy to get wrapped up with what's happening on your organization's social media profiles and forget to look at the broader universe of Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms. A narrow view could cause you to miss out on additional opportunities.

Not everyone will tag your brand when talking about his or her experiences, good or bad; a relative few will go to your page to talk about the brand.

Taking time to look at what those on social media are saying about you can help managers respond to other customer service issues, get ahead of trends or problems, and monitor brand sentiment.

5. Context is everything.

Looking at social media analytics can confuse even the most seasoned communications pro; if it's confusing to you, chances are, your company executives aren't getting it, either.

It's important to have a social media manager or team members who understand the context surrounding social media measurement.

Not only should they be able to evaluate marketing and PR efforts (adjusting them as needed), they should be able to explain what the numbers mean to anyone and everyone in your company who ought to know.

The importance of numbers can be summed up by a quote from Alex Peingiger, CEO of analytics platform Quintly:

Analytics is basically the only way how you can measure the success of what you are doing. In the current environment, it is key to understand which channels work well for you and which don't.

Managers would do well to remember that.

Beki Winchel is a contributor for PR Daily

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