Digital Mums How to use data to drive social media success

How to use data to drive social media success Step six in building a successful social media marketing strategy

We get very excited here at Digital Mums when we start talking about data. We love tracking the social media data and seeing what our audiences love. It’s quite addictive. After all with digital marketing, analysing what you are doing and establishing what is working is absolutely crucial.

But when it comes to social media many small businesses fall into the trap of just endlessly posting and having no real idea what is working. And sometimes when there is no immediate success social media is written off as a potential marketing channel. Obviously a big mistake in our book!

It’s important to reflect on how you feel about data at this point? Which of the following best describes you?

  1. I hate working with numbers and am not at all confident
  2. I have not worked with data in the past but I am not concerned about it
  3. I am familiar and confident working with data
  4. I love data and consider myself a data geek

Which were you? Whether you’re a 1 or a 4 hopefully this blog will help.

What are social media metrics and why are they important?

Social media metrics are data points that you can use to establish progress and success. You can measure all sorts of data points on social media, including:

  • Reach/impressions | How many people you are reaching and how many times they see your tweets and posts.
  • Social interactions | You can track how many people like, share, comment/reply on your tweets/posts and you can also get an overall % engagement rate which gives you a snapshot of how engaged your followers/community are overall.
  • Clicks | You can track clicks on the links you share and on your website you can track the number of clicks that come from social overall, and how many come from each platform using Google Analytics.
  • Video engagements | You can track a host of video metrics such as views and viewer retention (how long they watch the video for).

What are KPIs and why are they important?

Key Performance Indicators or KPIs for short, are a flash way of saying ‘targets’. KPIs can be tracked to see if you’re being successful. In the world of digital marketing where everything can be measured to the nth degree they have become more and more important to assess whether marketeers are doing a good job.

Getting started with using data to track performance

We have developed our own unique approach to tracking success with our Test, Measure, Reflect and Refine model.

If you're familiar with the Build-Measure-Learn approach from the Lean Start-up you may see some similarities.


The model works on any social media platform and will drive results long term. Using it has had significant impact on the success of Digital Mums itself. Not to mention us using it on over 700 businesses who have worked with a Digital Mum on our training programmes.

How it works

It really is incredibly simple and involves a cycle of refining and improving your social media efforts. Essentially you do more of what is working and discard anything that isn’t.

What you will be able to do as a result of following the model is constantly tweaking and improving on content, conversations and engagement.

Step 1: Test

We’ve spent a good deal of time talking about social media strategy so far, but the only way you’ll really know if your strategy is working is if you test it.

As to what you can test, well the list is endless once you get into the fine tuning but to start off with the most useful things to test are:

  • Content | Test different formats, content for varying purposes and it’s a great idea to test this at an early stage with curated content before you invest in created content.
  • Influencers | Test engaging with different influencers.
  • Timings | Post/tweet at different times of the day and days of the week.
  • Engagement tactics | Test asking questions, using polls, trying interactive Stories stickers.
  • Length of post | Test short, mid-length and micro-blog posts.
  • Hashtags | Use different hashtags.

Step 2: Measure

You’ll need to wait at least a week after testing before you start looking at the data and analysing it. Generally it’s a great idea to check the analytics weekly.

If you scored low on the data scale of 1-4 and are not at all confident working with data just make a note of the reach and engagement of the posts/tweets you did that week.

If you scored 2 then immerse yourself in the analytics/insights areas. If you’re confident working with data and scored 3 or 4 and are familiar with working with spreadsheets you can export the data into an Excel spreadsheet where it’s easier to manipulate.

Step 3: Reflect

Now you have measured your data you will need to spend time analysing it and reflecting on what the data is telling you.

For anyone lacking in data confidence this part can feel overwhelming. If you scored 1 out of 4 just look at the reach/impressions and engagement interactions you got on your week’s posts/tweets and then see which 3 scored highest and which 3 scored lowest. See if there are any themes across the things you tested - content, timings etc.

If you scored 2 out of 4 or above spend time looking at what metrics you actually want to measure and then take it from there. Move beyond just looking at the metrics on the posts and look at a range of metrics below.

Date / Time

This is brilliant for seeing if there are certain times of the week/month where you get more engagement. Perhaps you’re B2B and you see the weekends are particularly slow. Or maybe you have a very loyal community and you notice Sunday nights are particularly busy (they’re crazy for us on Twitter!). When you discover where the activity is happening you can simply push more content at that time to drive better results.


This metric tells you how many people are likely to have seen your activity. If there is a spike is it because you shared something particularly interesting? Or perhaps an influencer has shared your post which has resulted in an increase in impressions? If so, this is clearly a relationship worth pursuing. Likewise if there is a particular day with low impressions, it might be you need to post more frequently or perhaps mix up your content ideas.


Reflecting on likes, comments and social shares will determine how well you are engaging and building relationships with your customers. Again, if you see increases it may be because your content is the perfect fit, or perhaps you’ve posted at a really good time of day.

Click throughs

Click throughs to your own website is a key metric for you to see if brand awareness is driving people to your website. But it’s also worth looking at click throughs on curated content - is what you post interesting to your audience? What content formats or themes are driving most click throughs?

New fans/followers

Obviously it’s great to track your follower growth over time. You might have a drop in numbers compared to last week. What could that mean? Have you been posting enough or joining in conversations as much? Maybe a spike in followers is due to a popular hashtag or event you piggybacked on, which then might be a good strategy to continue. Don't obsess over them though as they aren't the most important metric.

Social media referrals to your website

By using Google Analytics you can clearly see what website traffic you are getting via social. Have a look at the type of content that is pushing most traffic. Is it blogs or videos? Also see if one social media platform is outperforming others in terms of website traffic. Think about what you're doing on that platform that may be transferred to another platform.


Over time (platform dependent) you should be able to discover who your followers are and even their interests. This is hugely useful in establishing if your activity is actually targeting those all important customer personas. At Digital Mums if our audiences were showing to be predominantly 18-25 year old males then we’d clearly be doing something wrong!

Step 4: Refine

Once you’ve spent time reflecting on your data all you need to do more of what is working and reduce anything that isn't. Or, most likely, you’ll need to enter into a new round of testing because your results weren’t conclusive and there are more things you need to test. That’s when you re-enter the Test, Measure, Reflect, Refine process.

To get real rewards, this really is an ongoing cycle. The result will be that over time you will use data-driven decision making to improve the success of your social media efforts.

For more useful social media stuff check out our free social media taster lessons, courses and podcasts here or why not sign up to find out more about our next Foundation in Social Media Marketing course here.

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