social media data dashboard

Social media can be a massive time suck or it can be one of the most powerful tools at getting your message out there. If you want it to work for you, you have to define what success actually means. Then review your data to see if you did the job you set out to do. Social media data is the evidence of success. Make sure you aren’t leaving this valuable information on the table. (Pssst….all the way at the end of this blog, I’ve got a free download that’ll make this process much easier.)

What is the Point?

When you start using social media, there’s an important question to ask yourself and/or your team – What does success look like for us? Success looks different for every person or organization that’s intentionally using digital marketing and social media. The answers to that question are your goals.

dartboardIn marketing departments, we turn organizational social media goals into objectives by including measurable factors so that we may answer definitively if success was achieved or not. Objectives include an action, a numeric element, a channel (or delivery method), and a time period in which to measure. It’s your customized formula. Objectives are the backbone of your social and digital marketing strategy.

Learn more about objectives and how to build them yourself. Or ask for my help!

Objective Examples:

  • Increase ticket sales by 150 using Facebook by the event date.
  • Increase visits to website shopping cart by 50 using Instagram by 12/31/22.
  • Increase email mailing list signups by 10% using LinkedIn in Q2.

Social Arc of Progress

Content Creation & Distribution

You’ve created amazing and useful content that supports what you want to achieve. You posted it, scheduled it in order to stay consistent, monitored your comments, interacted with followers, now you have to ask yourself if all that effort paid off. Did it work? There are some steps to take to answer that question.

Collecting Social Media Data

It’s time to make sense of the performance data that each social media tool provides. This is data analysis and the individual numbers are called metrics. We tend to use the term analytics and metrics interchangeably.

computer showing google analyticsYou have a couple options on where to access your data. The first is to go to the platform or service directly (sometimes called native) and review the data right there in the app or website. The other option is to use what’s called a third party tool. These are outside vendors that provide additional services to help you manage your accounts.

If you find that you don’t have data, you might not have the right permissions or you may be using the wrong type of account. As an example, a Personal Profile in Instagram doesn’t offer the analytics that a Business Profile will. Ask the Google machine, “Where do I access my data in x tool?” and you’ll get instructions and assistance. You may need to upgrade your account type. I can’t think of a single instance where changing your account type (in native social media) will cost you money.

Native or 3rd Party?

When choosing between the two, I recommend the native tool because they’re constantly building, improving, and changing. The outside vendors are always playing catch up and may take longer to incorporate the new data points than you’d like. Sometimes the tools stop talking to each other. But the good news is that those vendors may offer you some extra information that the official channel doesn’t include. You can use both in conjunction, if you like.  The most important part is to be consistent with how you access and collect your data.

Data Disappears

smokeYou must know that your social media data will not always be available to you. Continuously these services are repairing broken code, improving and streamlining your experience, or removing elements you’ve grown accustomed to seeing. Don’t depend on Facebook to have your data from 6, 9 or 12 months ago because you will be disappointed, my friend. Save your own information on a regular basis because there is no guarantee you’ll be able to get what you want tomorrow.


Preserve this valuable information every 30 days. Do it on the first of the month, every month, so when (not if, when) the data disappears, you will have your own records. Additionally, there can be bugs or limitations on how far back you can go. Some systems will only allow you to look back 30 days. A set routine ensures you’ll be able to access everything you need every month. As a result, you’ll be more adaptable to changes and you’ll grow more efficient because you’re accessing the features more regularly.

I know you want to know how long it actually takes. Collection takes me about 25 minutes a month. If you have to develop reports, factor that in as well.

Document It

You can export data in the form of an Excel or .csv spreadsheet but I recommend recording it in your own documentation or metric report (my term). Yes, by hand. It really doesn’t take long at all, I promise. Export when you need to but it won’t always be necessary. You can use fancy tools but really a simple spreadsheet is all you need.

My strategy clients get a customized strategy document and management spreadsheet which contains their unique metric report among many other organizational tools designed for efficient social media campaigns. This report doesn’t contain every single data point available on the performance dashboards. It contains the most important general metrics and the key performance indicators (KPIs) specific to their brand.

I created a general Metric Report to share with you. Download it and customize it to fit the channels you need. There are instructions right on the document so you know how to work with it.

Evidence of Social Media Success

Looking back at the Objective Examples, we wanted to increase ticket sales by 150 using Facebook by the event date. When people bought their tickets, did we ask how they found out about the event? When setting this objective, we’ll want to make sure we can prove how we acquired attendees.

We wanted to increase visits to our website shopping cart using Instagram in December. We’ll need to know what our Instagram traffic was like in November or even December of last year to know if we were successful or not. We’re going to be looking at Instagram click throughs and incoming traffic to the website to see if it was +50.

We post on the 15th of every month telling our LinkedIn followers that we have a valuable mailing list they can sign up for. We’ll need to check back at the beginning of Q3 to see if there was a 10% increase. We’ll need to know what the signups were in Q1 to answer this definitively.


Did You Achieve Your Objective? Yes!

Great job! Now’s the time to review what worked and what didn’t. Take note of posts that performed really well. What about them do you think your audience loved? Do you see any themes or trends? Times of day that worked well? The longer you collect data, the easier you will be able to see patterns and the preferences of your audience. Be curious when looking at your numbers, investigate, and try to tell the story of their behavior.

You achieved what you set out to do. Keep doing what worked. Should your next objective be the same or do you want to raise the bar?

Did You Achieve Your Objective? No :(

skatboarder fallingIt’s okay, you didn’t land the trick this time, don’t be too hard on yourself. This is the time to ask why it didn’t happen. Evaluate the contributing factors that were in your control and those that were not that may have led to missing the mark. Did you miss by a lot or just a little? A lot means you may need to rethink your approach or be honest about whether your number is unrealistic. A little means that you need to try again. This is when you adapt your tactics and get back at it.

You didn’t fail, you simply gained more knowledge.

Intimate Understanding

After you’ve collected your social media data, interpreted meaning, reported out, and adapted your tactics, you will gain intimate understanding of your audience and their needs. The longer you do it, the more clear it becomes. It starts to feel like you can read their minds. I regularly say interpreting data feels like reading tea leaves.

Smart business decisions use data to inform. Go read those tea leaves.


Not sure how to start? I can help.

This blog is a part of my larger Strategy Series.



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