Social media analytics – the ultimate guide to what they are and what tools to use

Discover how well you’re performing on social media with social media analytics.
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Social media analytics help you track your performance and presence across social platforms. With the right management tools, you can use the data and insights on offer to improve your overall social media strategy, build a strong brand presence and discover new ways of connecting with your audience.

Social is a fantastic window into your brand and helps you connect with users to create and foster long-lasting relationships. To achieve this, it’s critical for any brand to monitor how they’re being referenced across different platforms. Social media analytics is the most effective way to keep track and stay informed, to make sure you’re being heard as you create the right impact. 

In this article, we unpack how brands can optimise their social media strategies and ensure these are future-forward, failsafe and relevant using data and insights. 

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Why do social media analytics matter?

In its simplest form, social media analytics offer points of data that can be useful to find meaningful interactions, discover new audiences, measure content performance, and improve your overall social media marketing strategy. 

Data is pulled from multiple touch points across social platforms. These include engagement metrics such as likes, follows, retweets, clicks, impressions, and other similar metrics, as well as interaction insights from user conversations happening within the platform.

There are different options available for how you can measure and analyse your social footprint. Selecting the right set of tools relevant to your business will highly depend on what you want to achieve. 

The technical bit: Social media analytics tools gather the data for your brand by capturing keywords or topics using crawlers. These crawlers – similar to Google spiders – hunt through social media data that’s on the public domain and pull in all the relevant information to create an index or data journal, using specific algorithms to ensure they gather the right data.

These digital critters are called web crawlers or spiders because they, well, crawl all over the web to grab interesting data points. These are ported into your selected social media analytics tools, to give you a better view of your market, consumer sentiment, audience behaviours, and campaign performance so you can make better decisions to improve your growth and engagement. 

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What’s the importance of social media analytics?

There is a truism when it comes to news – good news spreads, bad news spreads even faster. You want to know what news is being spread about your brand so you can make the right decisions at speed. 

If it’s good news, you want to leverage this to the best possible advantage. If it’s bad news, you want to catch it early and fix it fast. Also, and most importantly, you want to keep on improving your content so it’s consistent, relevant, and engaging. 

There are also other important benefits to having social media analytics in place:

  • Build audience retention – Your business relies on customers and you want your social media to keep them engaged with your brand. You can use analytics to see how well your content is performing, and fine tune so they keep on working. Insights will make sure you optimise your social media properly.
  • Engage new customers – Use social media analytics to engage with existing customers and lure in new ones using the right messages at the right time.
  • Maintain a healthy brand – As already mentioned, you need social media analytics to keep track of the positive and negative brand sentiment in the market. If you know how your brand is perceived, you can use smart conversations and strategies to either remove or refine that perception.
  • Improve impact – Social media analytics will give you visibility into how well a campaign is doing and insight into how best to manage a campaign to achieve maximum impact. You can also use the data to identify opportunities in different markets and leverage trends to really drive campaign performance even further. 
  • Transform customer care – People don’t like problems. If they have too many problems, they leave. Using social media analytics, you can rapidly identify your customer’s pain points and make it easier to resolve them using customer service teams. It’s an advanced form of FAQ, but for your brand.


What are the types of social media analytics?

There are four different types of social media analytics. These are: descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. Each one offers you different insights and metrics that can help you achieve all the benefits mentioned above – and a few more.

1. Descriptive analytics dig into the ‘What’. What’s been happening on social platforms? What are customer preferences and how are they changing? These analytics platforms find patterns in similar types of data to give you a picture of trends, customer sentiment, and problems.

You get to look back at your brand’s performance over time and use reports and clusters to gain a clear picture.

2. Diagnostic analytics are the ‘Why’. Why did a campaign work? Why did it fail? Using these analytics, you can find out how to improve future campaigns, or what approaches to avoid. 

In short, they help you to analyse your brand’s performance based on hindsight and insight.

3. Predictive analytics are the ‘What’, and the ‘Why’. These tools look ahead. They use legacy data and insights, and previous behaviours by consumers, to predict what may work and what might be successful. 

They help you identify keywords and social media trends that can boost your campaigns, drive awareness, and influence your decision-making.

4. Prescriptive analytics are the ‘When’. These are far more proactive than any of the other types of analytic approaches, and help you figure out what steps you should take to get the best possible reach. 

They help you optimise your brand’s performance for the future, based on insights that let you make the best possible decisions for the greatest impact. 

All four of these methods can be combined to create powerful social media analytics approaches that transform how your brand connects with your audience. 

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Social media analytics tools and software

Social media analytics help you track variables like; brand sentiment, engagement metrics (comments, shares, saves, clicks, etc.), consumer trends and insights, online conversations in the form of social listening, and a holistic view into your brand’s social presence. 

As a toolkit, they’re designed to make your life easier. They help you track all the elements mentioned above, while also providing you with extra features and capabilities that allow you to reshape your brand’s performance.

You can use these to monitor social media, access dashboards and create reporting tools you can use to share insights with teams and decision-makers. Ultimately, they exist to improve your social media performance.

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Best social media analytics tools

Not all social media analytics tools are created equal and these are the best ones on the market right now:

Free social media analytics tools

Fortunately, for brands that want to trial a social media analytics platform, or want to see the value they can get from investing in the tools first, there are some superb free to use options available. These free platforms offer strong baseline functionality, with more advanced features available to paying subscribers.

Here’s our top 10 free tools for you to checkout:

Social media reporting tools

The two lists of the best and the free social media analytics tools include plenty of fantastic social media reporting tools as well. These tools blend their ability to monitor social media for specific keywords and conversations, with software that reports on the results of this monitoring. 

You can use these reporting tools to refine your keyword searches, identify trends and report back on your performance. Reporting tools are designed to make your data look interesting and accessible so anyone in the team can use them to make the right decisions or to refine campaigns. 

For example, you may find audiences aren’t responding as anticipated to a particular creative being used for a social campaign. Why not create an A/B test with real-time feedback from your social users by getting them to vote and then respond with feedback? Social listening tools can do the heavy lifting, and summarize the overall sentiment and help guide future creative direction. 

How to write a social media assessment report

Now that you have all these tools, reporting capabilities and insights, you have to use them in a way that helps you drive better results for your brand. This is where your social media reporting comes in. 

It should be easy to understand, accessible to all levels of decision-makers and pull together all the different data insights into one cohesive whole. It helps you showcase the value of your social marketing and demonstrate a return on investment aligned to your accomplishments. 

Your social media reporting should include the following components:

  • All your social media analytics data in a visual and accessible format that’s easily digestible.
  • Context for the data so readers understand why this information is of value to the brand – this can be supported with a clear outline of your social media marketing strategy.
  • The objectives of your strategy and how they are being met using data points.
  • The metrics by which you measure ROI. This can be anything from lead conversion and revenue generated, to social sentiment scores and share of voice across channels. Your metrics will be unique to your business and strategy.
  • Platform-specific results for each social media channel and touchpoint.
  • Highlights and success stories.
  • Lowlights, potential threats and opportunities.
  • A clear and articulate final summary covering all the key highlights.


Don’t forget to tailor the report to match the expectations of the team you’re talking to, so it provides the right insights to the right audience. 

Social media reporting template (free download)

Download the Vamp social media analytics report template below so you don’t have to worry about formatting and what elements to include – we’ve put it all in this report for you. All you need to do is change the audience and the insights to make it work for you.

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