As social media management evolves to include more elements, so do the expectations for social media professionals and their qualification. From project management to design, young professionals looking to enter the field of digital marketing have to learn more diverse skills to match their competition and meet the requirements set by employers. If your job already requires working with social media, your professional development path requires a steeper climb than many other occupations. The reason for this is not only the growing number of social channels, but also the constantly emerging new possibilities in using social media to help improve business processes.
A skill that has been improving website traffic and follower counts for a lot of forward-thinking social media professionals is data analysis. Analyzing social media data and using the results to inform business decisions helps social media professionals to prove ROI of their field to their superiors, as well as achieve new wins for their departments. This doesn’t mean you have to re-qualify completely—all the information you need is already there, you just have to work out a new process for implementing it. Since the social media analyst hat is a good one for social media managers to don from time to time, we came up with these steps to help smooth the transition.
5 Steps To Becoming a Better Social Media Analyst
Step 1: Know the difference between a social media manager vs. a social media analyst
Let’s say your job already assumes responsibility over social media channels. In order to improve on those skills, check out our resources to become a better social media strategist.
When assuming the duties of a social media analyst, however, your main task is to understand social media data, and translate it for stakeholders who would not otherwise be familiar with its benefits for the business.
Step 2: Learn the metrics you need to track in order to show results
In order to show the ROI of social media effectively and without overburdening your executive team with technicalities, social media analysts need to know what kind of data to track and how to parse the metrics.
First and foremost, the job of a social media analyst is heavily dependent on excellent knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) practices, as well as their implementation in brand awareness and marketing efforts. This will help inform both the social media and content marketing strategies by determining what search terms are prevalent in your brand’s field, and making sure your content ranks high in search results.
The other kinds of data a social media analyst should track is dictated by their business goals. For example, if the main objective is to increase customer acquisition through the website and social media channels, then it’s useful to track metrics such as clickthrough rates and traffic from social media, indicated by URL parameters. For more examples of social media metrics you should be tracking for various goals, read our blog post exploring the topic in greater detail.
Step 3: Collect all the necessary metrics
If duties of a social media analyst are just part of your everyday work, you want to make the process of data collection and analysis as time and cost-efficient as possible. This is why, for each metric you have selected in Step #2, find the best way to track and record the data.
At the very least, you should be tracking engagement data such as the number of times your brand has come up in a social media conversation—you can do this by setting up by creating official brand hashtags for brand name, products and/or services, events organized or sponsored by your company, and any campaigns you promote on social media. Set up search streams for real-time monitoring of your brand’s hashtags as soon as you first mention them. You can then analyze social media posts that mention your official hashtags by sentiment and influence of the user.
It’s safe to assume that, since your company hired someone to manage their online presence, they have several online assets—such as a website, a blog, online ads, and multiple social media accounts. In order to determine which online resource brought in the most traffic or most converted leads, it helps to add tracking parameters to all URLs you use. To save time and character counts, we recommend using URL shorteners for all your links. The most basic shorteners will give you insight on clickthrough rates; more sophisticated services will also provide you with the information on the referral source, as well as the regions where the clicks originated.
Finally, your website or blog will most likely benefit from a comprehensive analytics platform such as Google Analytics. The free version should have all the metrics to meet your website’s needs, such as unique visitors, social referral source, time spent on page, etc.; but if you run a website which receives several million visits a month, it might be useful to look into the Premium version.
Step 4: Parse the social media data into a meaningful report
Once you have collected all the data and figured out how it aligns with your company’s objectives, you need to choose the most effective way to communicate your findings to others in the organization.
Before you write the report, find a focus for the information you’re about to present. Depending on the nature of social media data you’ve collected, you can present your findings in form of a brand audit, a competitor audit, or a research report on the topic of your choosing. A brand audit can summarize insights on the engagement rates, prevalent sentiment among your brand’s social media audience, and influencers following your brand. A competitor audit can delve into your brand’s status in the market, general sentiment towards your competitors, as well as your wins and areas that need improvement in comparison to your competitors. A research report can cover such areas as the effectiveness of social media strategy for certain business goals, studies on key influencers in the field, or demand for potential future products or services based on social media discussions of your customers.
Structure is vital to the effectiveness of your report. Organize your report to start with the objectives you have set out to meet with the help of the data; then, outline your findings in general terms first, highlighting the most interesting facts. For your top results, provide some insight based on the objectives you set in the beginning, and give recommendations on the next steps.
If your company uses Hootsuite for social media management and monitoring, you can generate reports straight from the Analytics option available in the dashboard. Here’s how to structure a social media report using Hootsuite.
Step 5: Stay on top of the latest social media analytics trends
O*net Online projects the job growth for social media analysts to grow between 4 and 7% over the next ten years; and with an increased demand, expectations for skill development will also go up.
Sign up for Hootsuite University to stay up to date with new social media trends. If you are intrigued by our one-click reporting system mentioned in Step #4, Hootsuite University also has multiple resource to teach you how to use Hootsuite Analytics.
Let Hootsuite be an essential tool in your social media analyst itinerary. Try it for free.