As social media marketers, numbers are at the heart of what we do. While it's easy to simply record our growth and engagement numbers on a monthly basis, then send our spreadsheets up to the executives with a big smile, our job doesn't end there. Social media, at its heart, is a story-telling mechanism. And we need to use the metrics we have at our fingertips to tell stories about our brand. The first step to doing that is identifying any major changes in your metrics. Did you see a huge spike in engagement? A dip in growth? Don't write these inconsistencies off to mere chance - spend some time investigating. Your social media strategy will thank you for it later.
Changes to your social media strategy
It seems obvious: if you change your social media strategy, your metrics will change with it. Different people will see it, your audience will react differently, etc. But not all strategy changes are intentional or even conscious.
Social media managers are people, and people are dynamic, sometimes without realizing it. Schedules change, interests change, and methodology changes along with it. So take a step back and try to ascertain if you're doing something differently. Even minute changes can have big impacts when you're talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of impressions.
Changes in your company
Social media is a holistic effort, whether you treat it that way or not. If you're not aware of initiatives going on throughout your company or organization, you could be caught by surprise on social media.
One of the most obvious examples is social sharing buttons. Say an email goes out to your base, or a new landing page goes up on your website featuring prominent social sharing buttons. If these initiatives are successful, you could see a huge spike in mentions and engagement. Thankfully, these types of spikes are very easy to trace back.
However, something less direct like a department's participation in an event, or a new offline campaign may not be as obvious at first. Say your company runs a bunch of ads in a prominent magazine, but word never gets back to your digital team. The effects will eventually trickle down to social media, but if you didn't know about the campaign in the first place, it may be next to impossible to figure out the cause.
The bottom line is a social media manager needs to be social in the company. He or she should have a direct line to every department, and should take on the responsibility of educating co-workers about the holistic impact of social media. Social media should work with other marketing efforts to support one another, not ambush each other.
Changes outside your company
At the end of the day, your audience is controlling your metrics, and they're influenced by a lot more than just your brand. They're reading the news, they're following your competitors, and they're processing your messages in a way that fits with their reality - not yours.
That's why your job is to constantly be in their heads. What news articles are they reading that could impact how they perceive your brand? How are social influencers talking about you or your industry?
It's not just the perception of your brand that matters - it's the perception of your industry as a whole. So take some time each day to step out of your employee role and experience content as a consumer. You'll be surprised by some of the insights you'll glean as to why your audience is doing what they're doing once did once you shed your employee bias.
How do you use social media metrics to tell your brand's story? Tell us in the comments below!