A Guide on Social Media Analytics to Track

Lately I’ve had an influx of questions and enquiries about social media analytics tracking. It seems that in-house marketers and social media managers are struggling to create a plan for their social media activity. Some of the issues seem to be:

  • We’re tracking a series of social media analytics but we’re not really sure if they’re right or are required
  • Our board still don’t understand why we need social media
  • We’re struggling to link social media back to our overarching marketing goals
  • We don’t know where to begin – help!

So with that in mind, I thought I’d summarise where I start when I want to think about social media tracking and the different options of social media analytics available. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe there is one set of social media metrics everyone should be tracking. Instead, I think there are five or six metrics worth tracking, and which ones you look at comes down to your individual organisational aims.

Here’s how I determine both.

Part one: what metrics are actually relevant to track from social media?

Follower count

Found by: looking on the social channel’s analytics or brand page

I often dissuade clients and marketing managers from viewing follower count as a good metric to track or aim for. Often, tracking web referrals from social media, or link clicks, is a much better way of quantifying how good your content is. However, in some cases, follower count is important. This is only relevant if you need or want to improve the perception of your brand. Let me say that again: it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have – the only thing this really does is create a good perception of your brand. Due to the algorithms now present on nearly every social channel, even if you have a large follower count, you’re still likely to only reach a tiny percentage of them.

Think how often you follow a new account on Twitter or Instagram – I know I only follow perhaps one or two new pages or people per month. This is why it’s incredibly difficult to gain mass amounts of followers on a new channel or page.

However, say a potential customer wants to check out if your company is legit. They open your Twitter page and see you have 10K followers. They’re going to feel satisfied. Or a journalist wants to interview a leader in a specific field. They will take follower count into consideration.

Of course, if you are able to build a following of 10,000 followers who are engaged with your content that’s another story. I recently had an admired blogger tweet one of my articles to her 90K followers and received nearly 1000 web visitors from it. That is certainly when a large follower count is worth having. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry.


Found by: looking at the individual analytics per post

“Engagement” is far too broad a term to track. Instead, you should break this down into individual engagement metrics you want to track such as link clicks, shares and comments.

How to analyse Twitter social media metrics

Take the above Twitter metrics as an example. I would completely disregard the first “impressions” column. This does not relate to how many times someone sees your tweet. It is simply a measure of how many times your tweet could have been seen. The second and third columns are much better measures of engagement. The second, because it tells you times when people have clicked on your tweet, whether this be to enlarge an image, click on a link or look at your profile. All hint that you’ve managed to catch someone’s attention. Then the third column which shows the percentage of people who were enticed into to take action after seeing your tweet.

Social media analytics on Facebook

On Facebook again, I would ignore reach. This is rarely determined by how great your content is and is more determined by the algorithm, how well your posts have done historically and how likely your audience are to click or share your post. Post clicks, reactions, comments and shares are much more valuable here – and will help your posts to get higher reach in the long run if you can work to improve them.

Site referrals

Found by: viewing social referrals in Google Analytics

Most CEOs I speak to tell me they want to improve their follower counts on social media. Then when I really drill down into things with them, they agree that site referrals, product downloads, full-length video views or sign-ups are much more important. Site referrals are the absolute opposite to a “vanity metric”. If someone has seen your LinkedIn update and clicked through to your website and read your article, you’re doing something right. This creates a much higher chance of that person reading your About page, ordering a product or signing up to your newsletter list. Actions that could lead to real business results – money spent, users acquired, lists built.

To track site referrals all you need to do is go to Google Analytics > Acquisition > Social > Overview.

How to track social media metrics using Google Analytics

Here I also always look at average session duration. If people are clicking through but not reading your post or viewing your product – what’s gone wrong? If you have Google Analytics Goals setup you can also work backwards to see who has bought a product or signed up to something after coming through from social media.

Now, here are three business aims and the metrics I would suggest tracking for each of them.

Demographic of followers

Found by: viewing individual breakdowns in native analytics

This is a metric that rarely gets tracked as it’s often qualitative but I find it really useful in seeing if social campaigns are hitting the right spot.

To take LinkedIn as an example, you can view your follower demographic breakdown by Country, Region, Job Function and Industry.

LinkedIn follower breakdown

In Twitter you can view interests, gender and even favourite TV genres! Okay, some of this is not going to be relevant and occasionally you have to take demographics with a pinch of salt. However, for every client I have viewed them for, it’s always clear who we’re attracting in our follower base. This is one way to test campaigns targeted at a new or specific audience and if your audience grows over time, how closely it is aligned with your actual target audience.

Video metrics

Found by: viewing individual video metrics per post

I thought it important to mention video separately as that almost needs a metrics panel in itself. I don’t have any video posts I have permission to share the analytics from but as an example, here’s where I’d focus the most attention:


  • Video average watch time
  • 10-second views
  • Post engagement

I’d ignore minutes viewed – this looks nice on the surface, but if 300 people each watch your video for 1 second, that makes five minutes of viewing time but isn’t an effective result! Video views, are again a vanity metric, 10-second views are much more credible and unique viewers and people reached, again could all only be for less than a second so don’t hold much stock.


Twitter’s native video analytics aren’t great right now and don’t tell you much more than an image tweet. However, I’d take into consideration:

  • Media views
  • Total engagements
  • Detail expands


As native video only came in this week, I’ll update as soon as I have a chance to test!


Again, they don’t have great video-centric metrics yet, so I’d look at:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Engagement (which is how many times your video is liked, shared or commented)


Part one: what metrics should I track for what goal?

With all of the above in mind, here’s what I’d track for the three business aims below. Although obviously this will differ depending on which social media channels you are using.

I want to…ensure we’re creating brand awareness on social

  • Followers
  • Engagement – click-throughs, shares, likes and comments
  • How “viral” your posts go. This can be worked out by comparing the number of shares per post to the number of followers you have.

I want to…ensure we’re reaching our audience on social media

  • Demographics of followers
  • Website referrals
  • Goals fulfilled – products brought, email lists joined or customer enquiries from social media referrals
  • Any word of mouth feedback
  • Likes, comments and shares (even better if you can work out number of shares from actual customers vs potential customers)

I want to…use social media as a lead funnel

  • Website referrals
  • Goals fulfilled – products brought, email lists joined or customer enquiries from social media referrals
  • Followers and number of followers that fit our target audience


I hope that gives you a good starting point on which social media analytics you should look to track and most importantly – why. I could waffle on about social media analytics and metrics tracking all day, so if there’s a question you’d like to ask or another area you wish I’d covered please do tweet me and let me know – I’m on @bethgladstone or send me an email at beth@bethgladstone.com.