Understanding the key elements that influence consumer behavior on specific channels can help brands to focus the direction of their content. Analytic tools are available for the majority of networks. They offer valuable insight into behavioral patterns and engagement levels, and also inform site owners of their content reach as it is shared by users across multiple networks.
Here are the most popular social networks and a detailed overview of the main analytics options available for site managers.
Insights, the official Facebook analytics tool, is available for all webmasters and provides information on Page performance, audience interaction, and the most popular means of Page discovery by users. Additionally, Page admins are shown how many people a particular post reached. That information can be very useful as it alerts webmasters to the times of day most suited for posting, the language best received by fans, and also how valuable EdgeRank finds the content. The latter is of particular importance to many brands’ social strategies, as Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm looks at the affinity, weight, and decay of each post when determining how to prioritize content on news feeds.
Facebook describes its Insights API as "methods by which Facebook Platform developers can access the underlying data that is presented on the Insights Dashboard." Brands can also access comprehensive data via Facebook’s Query Language (FQL) and Graph API, which provides a detailed understanding of fan behavior and Page performance.
Twitter’s Web Analytics tool was introduced in September 2011 and allows users to accurately measure the traffic converted from their Twitter account, understand how their tweets are shared, and assess the effectiveness of tweet buttons integrated into their website. Webmasters must request access to Twitter’s analytics feature before being able to study the information provided.
Twitter is slightly more complex when searching for brand mentions, and businesses cannot rely on identifying references and positive chatter through @mentions alone. With Twitter’s discover facility, businesses can assess their social presence via @replies, hashtags, and plain text mentions. That is vital for better understanding the overall impression a brand has within the network.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter also has a website for developers which shares the latest developments with its API, developer blog, and discussions boards. Page admins can use the developers website to find guides about everything from embedding tweets and timelines to integrating the follow button onto webpages.
Google+ Platform Insights allows businesses to optimize their Google+ integration by measuring user growth and the activity of posts. Platform Insights largely focusses on trends to help develop fan acquisition and their engagement levels, whilst also placing importance on accessing analytics for apps in Google+.
Google+ for businesses particularly looks at helping businesses identify influential users, listen to fans, and identify key areas for social return on investment (ROI). It also has helpful information for brands new to Google+, such as how to be found on the network and tips on connecting within the network. This, in addition to Platform Insights, can provide great knowledge and direction for brands on Google+.
The official Pinterest analytics tool was launched on March 12, 2013, and it provides brands with interaction data such as what is being pinned from their site and the identity of influential pinners. In addition to this information, businesses will have access to the amount of views items pinned from their site have received, the true reach of pins, and also the traffic pins return back to the brand’s website. With the ability to track pins and their traffic from and to brands’ webpages, Pinterest’s SEO value provides good reason for its inclusion into social and SEO strategies.
To access Pinterest Web Analytics, Pages must be verified in order to officially associate a website with a Pinterest account. Users can request to do this in their settings.
InMaps from LinkedIn visually traces professional connections and inner-relationships to enhance the understanding between users and their LinkedIn network. InMaps groups similar users into clusters to identify the relevant audience for targeted content based on connections and interests.
While official analytics tools provided by the network itself are often the most reliable and in-depth tools to use, it is also worth being aware of the third-party applications which can also offer a high-quality service and provide alternate ways to measure engagement.
The key thing to take away is that if your brand is active on social networks, analytics are vital for identifying and understanding your audience, predicting and responding to their behavior, and tailoring your content to maximize engagement levels. Social media agencies are often a brand’s first port of call when looking into managing analytics.