A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Analytics


By Justin Sablich

If a Tweet is sent and does not receive a like, does it make a sound?

Beyond likes, retweets and emojis, there are other ways to measure the impact of a social posting, thanks to social media analytics tools. Conveniently, for Twitter and Facebook, these are built right into the platforms. 

Both of these native analytics tools offer a deep dive into how your content is performing. But for those exploring the world of social media analytics for the first time, here’s a primer on what to look for: 

Twitter Analytics

Every Twitter user, from your teenage niece to an angry-thumbed political figure, has their own analytics dashboard. To view yours, click on your profile image in the top-right corner of your computer screen and select “Analytics” from the drop-down menu.

The first thing you’ll see is a 28-day summary of how your posts have been performing, including the top Tweet, top Follower, top Mention and top media Tweet from this period. 

To determine what your top Tweet is, Twitter counts Impressions, which is the number of times the Tweet shows up in the feeds of other users, which also roughly translates into how many times it was was seen by others. The more times a Tweet is Retweeted, liked or commented on, the more times it will be seen.

The top Follower is the person who started following your account during this time period who has the most followers, or, frankly, who has the most influence on the platform.

The top Mention is the Tweet from another user that mentioned your handle which had the most engagements (clicks, Retweets, replies, likes, links, etc.), while the top media Tweet is one of your postings that included an image or video that had the most impressions. 

This information gives you an idea of how effective your postings have been, and as you scroll down the page, you’ll see this same information for each month. 

You may be asking yourself: “Great, so what do I do with this information?”

If you’re just curious about what kind of impact your Tweets are having, then you can make a mental note and move on. If you’re hoping to grow your following and make meaningful connections, there are a few simple things you can do. 

For one, if you haven’t already, Retweet your top Mention Tweet. Doing so is an acknowledgement to that user that you appreciate the mention, and also increases the chance of further engagement. You can also consider following this user if you are not already. This will increase the chance that the follower will return the favor if the user isn’t already following you. 

For your top Media Tweet, consider sending out that same media again the next month but with new copy. If the media you attached drew attention the first time, there’s a good chance it will again, as long as you freshen your Tweet up with new language. 

Also consider reaching out to the top Follower and thanking them for the follow. Chances are this is a person with influence who has the ability to boost future Tweets, so developing a meaningful connection is probably a good idea. 

Facebook Insights

Unlike Twitter, Facebook does not give every user their own analytics dashboard, but it does for anyone who has created or manages a Facebook Page. So if you’re someone with the keys to your department’s Facebook Page, take note.

To access your Page’s analytics, click on the Insights tab (in between “Notifications” and “Publishing Tools”).

You’ll first see the “Overview” page, which gives a snapshot of how your Facebook posts have performed. The default view will show the last seven days, but you can also choose among “Yesterday,” “Today” and “28 Days.” 

Among the key metrics to take note of are Reach, which is Facebook’s version of Twitter’s Impressions, Post Engagements (same as Twitter Engagements) and Page Views, which is the number of times your Page’s profile has been viewed.

Further down, you’ll see your Five Most Recent Posts and their Reach and Engagement numbers, followed by Pages to Watch, which is a section where you can add the Pages of like-minded organizations and see how your Page compares to your competition regarding engagement levels. 

One simple way to use this information is to study which of your posts have performed well and see what you can do similarly in future posts. 

When you click on one of your Five Most Recent Posts, you’ll be given further data on its performance, including specifics on how users engaged with the post and which parts of the post were clicked on.  


Justin Sablich is a cross-platform journalist and social media strategist who is currently a contributing writer and editor at The New York Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @JustinSablich. 

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