Dashboards and Data Viz | Data Strategy | Marketing

Visualizing Social Media Metrics

A strong social media strategy is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity. Social media’s influence and impact continues to grow, and companies and organizations across industry are seeking to amplify, and measure, their efforts. If you’ve spent much time perfecting your business’ social media strategy, you know that tracking the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is crucial.

Measuring metrics like lead quality, ROI, engagement, and follower rate is great (and necessary), but they won’t automatically help you unless you can bridge the gap between raw data and actionable insights. In other words, there’s a difference between what you’re tracking and how you’re tracking it. After that, you’ll need to find the best possible way to report on your success to the stakeholders and executives at your organization. For complex metrics, the science is in: there’s no better way to report on complex metrics than data visualization.

Setting goals is only the first step - you have to measure and see your success. #kpi #dataviz Click To Tweet

Getting a 30,000 Foot View of Your Social Media

How To Visualize Social Media Metrics

Reporting on your social media efforts is often challenging, due to the rapidly changing market and the difficult-to-monetize nature of the beast. If your executives aren’t themselves users of social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn, or just see Facebook as a place for them to “like” pictures of their family, you’ll need to make a special effort to communicate the ROI of your actions on social. Explaining the differences between impressions and views is only one challenge – you’ll need to present a high-level, easy to understand view of a lot of different data points. A dashboard is an excellent tool for this.

As you create your visual report, context is everything. If you think all forms of user engagement are equal, for example consider the following: If your replies outpace your retweets and likes, you might have a bad tweet on your hands. Sure, Twitter is a great place to spark conversations – even between brands, business, and their customers. However, a healthy blend of engagement indicates a healthier online campaign, so that’s what you should aim for. This is called “the ratio.” In a recent article, Five Thirty Eight broke down the difference between likes, retweets, and comments on poltical figures on Twitter – and used a triangle scatter plot (aka ternary plot) to effectively visualize the infamous ratio.

The reason this metric is important is because, generally speaking, different forms of engagement mean different things. Liking a Tweet, for instance, takes little effort; retweeting something, on the other hand, demonstrates a higher level of appreciation for the original author and their message. Replies indicate strong engagement, but that engagement could be positive or negative.

Read next: Bulletproof Social Media Marketing with These KPIs

How to Visualize Social Media Engagement

So how do you display “good” or “bad” social media results in a dashboard? First, you’ve got to understand which graphs and charts serve which purposes, then apply them to your data.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how you can create effective social media visualizations:social metrics dashboard

  • Tables – Demonstrate exact values
    • Social Media KPI Example: Facebook Spend by Ad Group
  • Bar Graphs – Compare values
    • Social Media KPI Example: Impressions by month, Year over Year Comparison
  • Line Graphs – Display patterns or trends
    • Social Media KPI Example: Twitter Follower Growth
  • Pie Charts – Show percentages or proportions
    • Social Media KPI Example: Comparative spend across social media platforms
  • Scatter Plots – Display correlations between values
    • Social Media KPI Example: Post Engagement vs. Total Reach

When you select the right chart types for your social media visualization, you can quickly see your social media “batting average.” Make sure you’re using a data visualization platform where the end-user can easily pivot between metrics, and drill down into the granular details so they can answer pressing questions. For example, filtering on post type (i.e. video, text, image) can help you see which content is getting the most bang for your buck.

Different Graphs for Different Efforts

While your end game is a high-level view of your social media success, it’s important to remember that different campaigns will resonate with different groups of people. That’s why you’ll want to dissect your social media presence to see what messages resonate with different demographics – especially your target demographic. Once you know your target audience and begin to understand what information and which platforms reach them most effectively, you’ll be one step closer to truly streamlining your targets and reach your goals.

social media visualization

The same thing goes for organic and paid campaigns. At their core, both organic and paid social media campaigns are meant to grow your traffic engagement and – in the end – your ROI. However, organic and paid social media campaigns have different targets, costs and benefits associated with them. While paid efforts typically act as extended advertising, organic efforts are about creating an authentic relationship with your base and adding personal value to your online presence. It is important to differentiate between these efforts in your reporting.

Somewhat paradoxically, it can be easier to measure ROI on paid social media efforts, since there’s typically a “money in, money out” attitude. Most paid efforts direct the user toward some sort of conversion event, so as long as you’ve set a value to those conversion events, you’ll be able to visualize your ROI quite easily. As for organic, focus on metrics like engagement, audience size, and traffic to your site from your posts. You’ll want to make sure that set up visual aids to identify their individual levels of success.

Whether you’re just beginning your brand’s social media visualization journey, or you’re a seasoned social media guru, a social metrics dashboard can provide insights into (and support for) your efforts. The right data visualization platform can help you bring all your data together so that you can easily share and analyze the data in real-time.

Looking for social media visualizaiton inspiration? Check out our interactive social metrics dashboard example by clicking here!

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Jennifer Horne Sr. Digital Marketing Coordinator @iDashboards

Jennifer Horne handles SEO, PPC, content and digital marketing for iDashboards. She has won multiple 30 Rock trivia competitions, makes a mean green curry, and loves living in Detroit.


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