Tools for Measuring Social Media Success

Woman looking at spreadsheet on computer

This post originally appeared on We're sharing it here because libraries also need to measure their social media activities to understand what is working well and what could be improved. Happy measuring!

When you're new to the world of social media analytics, it can be quite overwhelming not only trying to determine what to measure, but what tool to use. We recently published a recap of our webinar on social media analytics with Laura Solomon, a librarian and social media expert. There was so much covered in that hour that we barely scratched the surface in our recap and didn't have a chance to focus on analytics tools.

As the (now former*) social media wrangler for TechSoup for Libraries for the past few years, I've personally struggled with sticking with an analytics tool and making sense of it. The good news is that analytics tools have gotten easier to use. Most of the major social media networks (meaning Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) offer some sort of built-in analytics feature.  I've found that using both the built-in tools along with a third-party tool is the best way to get a balanced look at your analytics.

Built-in Analytics Tools

Let's take a look at a few of the built-in tools our favorite social media networks use. In our webinar, What Can Libraries Count? Getting a Grip on Social Media, Laura covered a few of the useful features in each of these tools.

Facebook Insights

Facebook recently updated Insights, the analytics tool for Facebook pages. The Overview tab lets you see a seven-day snapshot of the most important activity on your page. This is a quick way to see what's grabbing the attention of your followers and where you should be focusing the most attention.

Are you getting a lot of comments? Do they require further action? (Are there questions to answer or is there feedback on a program to consider?)

You can also drill down; you can see how many people "like" your page within a specific time frame, how many people your posts were served to, your number of page views by section, and data on when your fans are online. All of this data can be used to craft posts that resonate with your audience and help you understand when you should be posting content.


screenshot of Facebook Insights


Twitter Analytics

If you feel pretty comfortable with Facebook Insights, you'll feel right at home with Twitter Analytics. Like Insights, you can pick and choose how deeply you want to drill down into your analytics. On your account's analytics home page, you'll see a 28-day summary at the top as well as some highlights from the month, such as your top tweet and top mention.

You can also look at the performance of specific tweets and see a breakdown of analytics such as

  • Impressions — the number of times users saw the tweet on Twitter.
  • Engagements — the number of times a user clicked, retweeted, replied, followed, or liked a tweet.
  • Engagement rate — the number of engagements divided by the total number of impressions.

screenshot showing Twitter Analytics


Twitter also has an Audiences tab where you can learn about the people who follow you. Naturally, followers of @TechSoup4Libs have a top interest of "Books, news, and general info." Our audience is also mainly female with professional or technical backgrounds. These are some very basic demographics, but it at least gives us an idea of whom we're talking to.

Third-Party Analytics Tools

At TechSoup, we primarily use Hootsuite to manage our social media accounts — analytics, posts, responses, etc. We have the enterprise version, which gives us real-time analytics in which we can see the engagement level of a post over the course of the day. It also allows us to generate analytics reports and customize them in case our board or administration requests to see specific numbers.


screenshot of Hootsuite


We've also found Hootsuite Insights, another feature in the enterprise version, to be useful for learning about our audience beyond what the built-in tools can do. Our senior online community and social media manager, Lewis Haidt, uses Hootsuite Insights with Excel pivot tables to see who has been active around a certain hashtag or particular conversations.

Hootsuite Insights lets you gauge the sentiment around your brand. You can also set up a stream that lets you see where people are talking about your brand — whether it's on social media, blogs, forums, and so on.


Hootsuite Insights showing Inbound Messages by Sentiment: positive, negative, and neutral


Hootsuite offers four plans: free, pro, team (suitable for a small business), and enterprise. The pro plan offers a 30-day trial so you can see if a deeper analytics tool is useful for your organization.

Audiense is another social media analytics and listening tool that some of us at TechSoup have used before. It also has a free version (only for Twitter analytics) that's worth trying out.

So What Works Best?

The best way to determine which analytics tools to use is to find out exactly what metrics your administration is looking for. What goals would they like to accomplish through social media? Do you simply need to provide numbers for followers, likes, and retweets? If so, you will probably do just fine with the built-in tools.

Does your administration want demographic data on your social media audience? Or do they want detailed reports on the growth and success of your social media? Then you might consider a third-party tool for your social analytics.

Whatever you route you choose, you want to make sure the tool can help you make sense of your social media numbers so your organization can continue to do great work.

Social Media Analytics Resources for Nonprofits and Libraries

*I've started a new job at a Bay Area library.

Image 1: / Shutterstock

Image 2: Facebook

Image 3: Twitter

Images 4 and 5: Hootsuite