What does success look like?

There are many reasons why you should measure the results and analyse the impact of your digital and social media campaign. When you can recognise the importance of online efforts, and adequately resource them, you will realise all that it has to offer.

Social media is often perceived as being less important than traditional campaigning methods and means of communication, and this can be a barrier to receiving support or budget allocation. One of the benefits of social media is the ability to accurately track performance and show return on investment (ROI), which can be useful when seeking organisational buy-in. You must be able to show successes and demonstrate how people are taking action online. But first you must establish what success looks like.

It is important to know what counts as meaningful engagement for your campaign. For example, if you create a video for your digital-storytelling strategy, and your target audience is new supporters in the “moveable middle”, then a measure of success would be a large number of “shares”, which would translate into increased reach and impressions. Or you may be running a volunteer drive, using social media to promote the sign-up page on your website. In this case, you could measure the number of click-throughs from social media, compared with the number of new sign-ups.

Social media analytics explained

One of the benefits of social media is the ability to measure virtually anything. But this also presents a challenge – campaigns and organisations may struggle to understand what metrics they should be analysing and, more importantly, what it all means. Here is an overview of some of the most important and popular metrics.

Conversions are often described as the most important thing to measure: they represent a user taking a desired action on your social media channels. This could be subscribing to your mailing list, clicking through to your website, making an online donation, filling in a volunteer sign-up form, or any other action that helps you achieve your aims and objectives.

Reach is the total number of unique people who see your content, as opposed to Impressions, which is the number of times your content has been delivered to a person’s social media feed. A person seeing a post from a campaign three times in their Facebook feed would count as three impressions, but as one person reached.

Engagements are the total number of interactions on a social media post, including likes, comments, shares, video views, retweets and replies.

Community Growth is the increase in new likes or followers of your social media accounts compared to the previous week, month, quarter or year.

Many social media platforms offer their own analytics tools, and there are numerous third-party options.

Facebook Insights provides a comprehensive analysis of the metrics described above, with additional features such as when your fans are online and a breakdown of your audiences by age, gender and location. “Pages to Watch” is another useful tool: it compares the performance of your Page and posts with similar Pages on Facebook, defined by you. Take some time to familiarise yourself with Facebook Insights and other analytic tools, to better understand what metrics are important for your campaign. This in turn will help you to better understand who your audiences are and what content they are engaging with.

Success on social media also means being able to set goals, monitor progress and adapt accordingly. Set out weekly, monthly or quarterly goals, with aims such as an increase in new followers, growth in engagements, and mailing list sign-ups. Then it is about keeping an eye on your insights and analytics to track performance and monitor progress towards meeting those goals. Being able to adapt requires recognising what content is working, what is not, and what may need to be tweaked or changed.

Example: Yes Equality memes

A “meme” is an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person in a culture – often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning. In the early stages of the Yes Equality campaign for civil marriage equality in Ireland, images of celebrities and influential Yes supporters holding branded signs with the phrase “I’m ready to vote” were performing extremely well on the campaign’s social media channels. The team could see this trend developing, and responded by creating a template for a meme. Then, whenever a high-profile person made a supportive statement, the creative team could quickly turn it into a meme using the image and quote and push it out on social media. Throughout the campaign, these memes were often among the most popular content.

Yes Equality Social Media Daniel O'Donnell