When creating your social media strategy, you're choosing goals and objectives that you want your marketing efforts to hit. But if you're not monitoring your social media analytics, metrics and performance, how will you know if you're hitting those goals?

Social media analytics are key to proving return on investment (ROI) and making informed business decisions. Luckily, nearly every platform offers its own form of native analytics. Plus, there are a number of social media analytics tools that can help you monitor your performance in even more depth.

Throughout this article, we'll touch on why social media analysis is so important and the types of analytics you need to be paying close attention to. We’ll cover which social media analytics tools you can use to help measure your success. We also made a video covering which social media analytics will help you dive deeper so you can uncover insights for your marketing—and overarching business—strategy.

What is social media analytics?

Social media analytics refers to the collection of data and metrics that help you measure your overall social media performance. This helps marketers understand which types of social media content best resonate with their audience so they can shape and adapt their strategy accordingly. Reviewing social media analytics reports empowers teams to make data-informed decisions about how to transform their marketing efforts and grow their businesses.

Marketers can conduct social media analysis natively on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter). Marketers can also use social media management software like Sprout to dive deeper into the numbers.

What is the importance of social media analytics?

Social media analytics help marketers with a number of tasks, from informing their strategy to planning campaigns and inspiring content ideas. There are five major benefits of tracking social analytics:

1. Trendspotting

Trendspotting is the act of pinpointing upcoming trends before they're mainstream. Keeping a close eye on your social media analytics can help you do just that. Some of the trends that your social media analytics can help you determine include:

  • Which platforms are gaining or losing traction and popularity
  • Topics of interest that your audience is talking about (and brand mentions in conversations)
  • Types of ads that interest your audience
  • Rising influencers and products in your niche or industry
  • Types of content that your audience engages with most

If analyzed properly, your social media analytics reports can be a huge help in identifying what you should post more of, what types of content are becoming more popular and what your audience wants to hear more about in the next quarter or year.

2. Brand sentiment

Brand sentiment illustrates how people are feeling about your brand. It includes all positive, neutral and negative feelings that are discussed online. By looking through your social media analytics, you can review and measure your brand sentiment through a sentiment analysis software.

This helps ensure your audience is happy with your business and enables you to detect opportunities to make amends with unsatisfied customers. And you can uncover opportunities to improve your business.

For instance, through sentiment analysis you could discover your customers are asking the same questions about a particular product feature, enabling you update your FAQ page or help center. Sentiment analysis can be used with competitor analysis because you can pinpoin new competitors and related topics your customers are buzzing about that you may have not considered before.

3. Value perception

Value perception (or perceived value) refers to the overall customer opinion of your brand's product or service and whether or not it can meet their needs. Perceived value is key to determining demand and the price point of a product or service. For example, if your product has a low perceived value, customers won't be willing to pay much for it.

You can measure value perception by using social listening tools and monitoring data from other digital marketing dashboards, such as Google Analytics. This can help guide the content you create to improve value perception and make sure you're showcasing how your product or service can hit key pain points.

4. Setting social media goals

Social media analytics can also help you see which channels and content are performing well, so you can create actionable, realistic social media goals and objectives.

The key word here is realistic. If you take a look at your social media analytics reports and realize your Instagram account is growing by 10 followers per week, trying to jump from 5,000 followers to 10,000 followers in a single quarter is not a realistic goal, even if you revamp your posting strategy. You might instead try to make a goal where your account starts growing by 20 followers per week instead and steadily increase that goal from there.

5. Proving ROI

Finally, your social media analytics can help prove the ROI of your social media marketing efforts. Each time you run a new campaign, monitor your social analytics to see how the content is performing, if people are clicking over to your website and if you're generating new sales. Doing this demonstrates social media ROI so teams can earn more buy-in and resources. UTM tracking and URL shortening are two ways that make proving ROI via analytics even easier. This way, you can attribute specific pipeline and purchases to your social media efforts.

What are the types of social media analytics?

There are several different types of social media analytics you should monitor to guide your strategy and discover valuable insights. We'll walk you through the six main types of analytics below.

Performance analysis

First and foremost, you need to measure the overall performance of your social media efforts. This includes social media metrics including:

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Views
  • Clicks
  • Sales

You can easily gauge all of this within your Sprout Social dashboard:

Sprout's Profile Performance report shows audience growth and key performance metrics including impressions, engagements and post link clicks.

You can use Sprout’s reports to showcase how your marketing content is performing and if you need to switch up the content you're posting. You can also identify which types of posts resonate with your audience best.

Audience analytics

Next, you'll want to take a look at your audience analytics. This will help you discover which demographics your content is reaching—and ensure they match up to your target audience. If not, you may need to adjust your content strategy to better attract your ideal customer profile.

Audience analytics will include data like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Device

With Sprout Social, you can also gather audience analytics about specific topics related to your industry, which can help you build out your customer profiles. Here's an example of what that could look like for one of your topics:

Device demographics within Sprout's Social Listening dashboard. There is a technology (mobile vs. web) and mobile breakdown (Android vs iOS). The dashboard also shows a profile overview for key metrics across specific accounts including followers, volume, likes, impressions and engagements.

Competitor analysis

Another key area to look into is how your competitors perform on social media. How many followers do they have? What is their engagement rate? How many people seem to engage with each of their posts?

You can then compare this data to your own to see how you stack up—as well as set more realistic growth goals. Using a tool like Sprout, you can gather all of this data in one place and measure it network by network.

A Facebook Competitors report within Sprout. The dashboard features a summary comparing profile performance to competitors and an audience growth chart. The chart shows net fan growth by day per competitor.

Pay attention to how your benchmarks stand up to your competitors and consider adjusting your social media strategy to take advantage of opportunity gaps.

Paid social analytics

When you're putting money behind specific social media posts, you want to make sure they're driving results. This is why you absolutely need to pay close attention to your paid social analytics.

Some of the most important ad analytics to measure include:

  • Total number of active ads
  • Clicks
  • Click-through rate
  • Cost-per-click
  • Cost-per-engagement
  • Cost-per-action
  • Conversion rate
  • Total ad spend

Each social media platform that you run ads through will have its own dashboard to provide you with all of this information, but you may want to create your own spreadsheet as well to track total ads and ad spend.

Influencer analysis

If you're running influencer marketing campaigns, tracking the success of these partnerships is essential to proving ROI. We recommend using the five W’s + H of influencer marketing to inform your strategy and measure ROI at each stage of the buyer journey.

Some of the data you'll want to keep track of includes:

  • Number of posts created per influencer
  • Total number of interactions per post
  • Audience size of each influencer
  • Hashtag usage and engagement

This can help you gauge overall engagement from your influencer campaigns. If you have an affiliate marketing program, you can designate promo codes for each individual influencer to use so your team can track how many sales each partner drives as well.

Sentiment analysis

The last major segment of social media analysis you'll want to track is brand sentiment. Earlier, we talked about how social media analytics tools can help you determine and measure sentiment analysis. But if you want to dig even deeper, use social listening to gauge specific connotations around your brand.

Sprout's Social Listening dashboard helps measure your brand sentiment, showcasing how users feel about your brand or relevant keywords and topics. You can also use sentiment analysis in Sprout’s Inbox and Reviews Feed.

Sprout's Social Listening dashboard for the topic of mobile phones. The dashboard features a graph illustrating sentiment trends for competitors over time. The dashboard also features a network overview.

What are the best social media analytics tools?

There are a heap of social media analytics tools to choose from, but it’s all about finding the platform that fits the unique needs of your organization. Take a look at our top three suggestions:

1. Sprout Social

Sprout offers cross-channel social media analytics, enabling you to dig into your performance on a single network or compare results across various networks at once.

Refining your content or business strategy is easy with Sprout’s automated, presentation-ready reports. Take your research further with custom reports personalized to your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs).

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for our social media analytics. With Sprout’s Advanced Listening tool, you can conduct sentiment analysis and uncover data about your audience, share of voice and relevant topics. And with Tagger by Sprout Social, you can measure and maximize your influencer marketing ROI and optimize your social marketing efforts.

Sentiment summary and trends within Sprout's Social Listening dashboard. The sentiment summary reflects net positive and negative sentiment by percentage. The sentiment trends section features changes in sentiment over time. A message overlay appears on the right side of the screen, highlighting an inbound message with negative sentiment.

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics isn’t solely for social analytics, but it’s a staple for social media practitioners and leaders. You can create reports to monitor:

  • How your social media efforts drive web traffic and lead generation
  • Which social networks fuel the most traffic
  • Audience demographics
  • ROI of your social media campaigns

A screenshot of Google Analytics' tracking tool.

3. Rival IQ

Rival IQ is another tool for customized social media analytics reports. The platform can help brands track their success across a number of social networks including YouTube. Rival IQ also provides competitor analysis, social listening, influencer tracking, hashtag analytics and social media audits. Rival IQ is a great option for businesses with multiple social media channels or agencies working with multiple clients.

A screenshot of social media analytics tool Rival IQ.

Start measuring your social media analytics

Don't go into your social media strategy blind. Start monitoring and measuring your social media analytics so you know how your audience feels about your product or industry, what types of content resonate best, the business impact of your social efforts and so much more.

Try Sprout Social for free with a 30-day trial

Get started with a free Sprout Social trial to discover how we can help you measure all of this and more through our comprehensive dashboard.

How do I track my social media analytics?

There are tools built for social media tracking. You can read more about them in our post on the best social analytics tools, or you could try out Sprout Social’s Analytics tools for free today!

How do I report on social media analytics?

There is a slight nuance between social media analytics and social media reporting. While analytics refers to the data that you collect and analyze, reports are the documents you might put together to share internally.

Which social media metrics matter the most?

Not only is it important to have access to your social analytics, but you also need to know which metrics you should be tracking. That’s why we’ve written an article on the most important social media metrics. Start capturing data on your metrics and sharing them internally to show the work you’ve accomplished!