Social Content Analysis: Figuring Out What Works and What Doesn't


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Step-by-step instructions on how to analyze your social media content (and data) to find out what types of content are most effective, which posts and words drive specific actions and how to use your data to answer any other questions you have about your content (best time to post, best post length, etc.). This method can easily be applied to any social media content (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) to help you become a more effective, efficient digital marketer.

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Social Content Analysis: Figuring Out What Works and What Doesn't

  1. 1. SOCIAL CONTENT ANALYSISHow to figure out what’s working and what isn’t
  2. 2. Pop QuizDo you know the answers to these questions about your brand’s content across socialchannels? What call-to-action keywords do your Facebook fans respond to most? Are fans more likely to retweet content about a buy one get one free promo or a 50% off sale? To maximize engagement, should your Instagram photos be extreme close-ups or should you use a tool like PicStitch to splice different photos together?
  3. 3. Answers Industry reports are great, but aren’t specific to your brand  I’ve seen some clients with data that is nearly an exact opposite of suggested “best practices” Insights can make you more effective and efficient as a content marketer You can calculate them yourself with MS Excel, Pivot Tables and a little elbow grease. I’ll show you how
  4. 4. MethodUsing an example from Facebook posts
  5. 5. Collecting and Organizing the Data Download your page’s post‐level data from Facebook Insights for the past six months  I recommend going back two weeks, then pulling the previous six months Create a new spreadsheet and splice together the data that matters most to you for your goals. Some basics to begin with:  Reach  Impressions  Engagement Rate (Engaged Users/Reach)  Negative Feedback Rate (Lifetime Negative Feedback/Reach)
  6. 6. Editing Columns Delete columns with information you’re not interested in, add columns for Engagement Rate and Negative Feedback Rate, change column headers and delete descriptions – whatever makes the most sense to you
  7. 7. Formatting Dates and Times Add four additional columns to the right of the Posted column. Title them Day of week, Date, Time and Rounded  Use the following formulas to calculate the first value in each column (replace CELL with the correct cell info)  Day of week: =TEXT(CELL,”dddd”)  Date: =INT(CELL)  Time: =MOD(CELL,1)  Rounded: = ROUND(CELL/(1/24),0)*(1/24)  You’ll probably have to format each of the columns to get them to display correctly. Just select the column, right click and choose Format Cells  If it all looks good, drag the formula down to fill the rest of the cells
  8. 8. Formatting Dates and Times The four new columns should look something like this:
  9. 9. Calculating Post Length Add a column to the right of the Post Message column and title it Characters  In the first row, type =LEN(CELL) where CELL is the appropriate cell  If that gives a character count, drag the formula down to the rest of the cells Add another column to the right of the Characters column and title it Post Length  Use a LOOKUP table to define ranges. If you’re not familiar with the LOOKUP function, here’s an explanation. You can also use the example on the next slide and substitute your own numbers
  10. 10. Calculating Post LengthUse a LOOKUP table to defineranges for post length. Goingsmaller than intervals of 10probably won’t give anyactionable insights, so don’tgo overboard
  11. 11. Adding Labels Add a few columns for things you want to track (campaign name, purpose of post, topic, call to action style, etc.) Think of these columns as buckets. You need to have enough content to fill all of the buckets, so try not to get too granular
  12. 12. Bonus Points: Adding Web Analytics If you’re using UTM tags in the links you share on social sites, hopefully they’re pulling in conversion and/or goal data for each post (whether you’re an e-commerce site or not). If you have it, take the time to add it into your spreadsheet. Tedious, but extremely helpful (you’ll see an example later in the deck). I recommend adding:  Unique Visits  Conversion Rate or Goal Completion Rate Not sure why or how to track conversions or goals? Here’s a great article to get you started.
  13. 13. Building Pivot TablesNow, you can create Pivot Tables to help you “bubble up” what’s working and what isn’t.From your spreadsheet: Click Insert>Pivot Table Highlight the source data (should be everything on your spreadsheet, except for the LOOKUP table) and choose to have the table placed in a new spreadsheet Drag and drop items from the fields list to areas in the table builder (screenshot on next slide) Play around with different ways of mashing up the data. It’s always a good idea to add a “Count of…” column that counts some unique identifier for each post (in this example, it’s Post ID), so you can make sure you’re not working with really small or skewed fields
  14. 14. Building Pivot Tables• If you’re not sure what the data “looks” like, you can toss it into a PivotChart and see if that helps
  15. 15. Sample ApplicationsHow to pull insights from the data to improve your content
  16. 16. Discover Effective CTA Styles and Words If the goal is engagement, explicit calls to action are more effective than implicit CTA’s Using the phrase “let us know in the comments” generates more engagement than “like if.” Implicit CTA’s with the words “when” and “how” typically drive more engagement Using “like if” and “share if” result in 7x more negative reactions from fans (hiding content, unliking the page, etc.)  Applying the insight: Use more explicit calls to action, but use “like/share if” CTA’s with caution. Ask more questions using the words “when” and “how”
  17. 17. Test The Rule of Thirds We can see that curated content is posted less frequently, but has a higher engagement rate When the brand posts content about the fans, they comment and convert at a higher rate. Specifically, posts about guest bloggers get higher click rates and conversion rates Posts about home‐related topics and travel are highly shareable and engaging content Posts about toys generate an abnormally high amount of negative feedback  Applying the insight: Post more curated content to increase engagement rate (and EdgeRank). Working in more guest blogger content will help drive sales and creating more posts about home and travel ‐related topics can help drive engagement. Consider reducing or eliminating posts about toys to reduce negative feedback (which hurts EdgeRank)
  18. 18. Find Topics That Resonate With Your Fans Posts about the animal shelter charity effort got far more engagement than the posts about the Earth Day efforts People are more likely to click on posts about productivity, but are less likely to share those posts  Applying the insight: In the future, look to do more partnerships with animal ‐focused charities. You may want to try posting non‐charity content with animals in it to see if just adding animals increases engagement. Continue posting on productivity and organization, but consider doing a survey of fans/readers to see why they aren’t sharing the productivity articles. Is it because they don’t find them useful? Or possibly because they don’t want to share productivity “secrets” with others (co ‐workers, competitors, etc.)?
  19. 19. Choose the Best Content for Each GoalLet’s assume that the purpose of our presence on Facebook is to do four things: build brand awareness, engage withfans, drive online sales and establish ourselves as a thought leader in the industry For sales, a link is the best converting content. To help us build our brand, we want as many eyes as possible on our content and photos get the most impressions. The best content types to engage our fans are photos and video  Applying the insight: Use the best content type for each goal more frequently, but continue to post alternate content types to see if there is a shift in the most effective content type (Ex. 50% of sales posts should be a link and the other 50% should be a mix of photo and video)
  20. 20. Application on Additional Platforms Utilizing the labeling strategy across social and web properties
  21. 21. Twitter  Do links get more RT’s than comments?  What’s the optimal tweet length?  Do tweets with hashtags get more engagement?Take it Anywhere  Do links with vague descriptions get more clicks? InstagramYou can take this labeling strategyand apply it across platforms. Get  Do close‐up shots do better than PicStitch shots?Twitter data (from tools like Sprout  Do posts with hashtags get more engagement?Social, Hootsuite), Instagram stats  Do photos of people do better than product shots?(from tools like Statigram, Ink360),Pinterest data (from tools like Pinerly,  Do photos of text get more engagement than regular photos?Curalate) and figure out whichquestions are most important to you, Pinterestthen add labels to your content tohelp you answer the questions.  Do photos of clothes on models get more engagement than product shots?  Do photos from Instagram do as well as photos from our website?Here are a few examples of questions  Do photos with price info convert at a higher or lower rate thanyou could answer with content labels: photos without price info?  Do small infographics get repined as frequently as large ones?
  22. 22. Words of Caution Obstacles to avoid and questions to ask
  23. 23. Potential Problems Beware of small data sets. If you’re trying to determine which content type is most effective for curated content and you only have a few posts of each type, it’s really easy to get skewed data. Below is an example of how one post can throw an entire table off.  Ideally, you’d have more posts of each type so you’re not relying on such a small data set. You could also use the median instead of the average to prevent skewed data in your pivot table. Unfortunately, Excel doesn’t offer Median as one of the standard calculations in Pivot Tables, so you’ll need to hack one together using arrays.
  24. 24. Check Yourself Define your questions, then review the numbers. If you’re even remotely mathematically inclined (or just really love Excel), you can absolutely cripple yourself with the possibilities and different ways of looking at things, so be very specific in what you’re looking for Data is important, but so are your instincts. If you know that posting about current political events always generates high engagement, but creates a hostile environment on your page, go with your gut and scale back on the political content Correlation does not imply causation. Looking at data and crunching numbers can be pretty cool, but as with any “experiment,” it’s important to remember that LOTS of factors can influence if and how people interact with your content. Always look for underlying stories or factors that may have influenced the numbers  I like to review the insights I find and pretend like I’m someone from a competing company whose single goal is to poke holes in my theory – ask (and answer) the hard questions. You’ll be better for it Test, refine, repeat. What worked a few months ago might not still work today. Make sure you’re looking at your data by date (in addition to label) and always testing new theories  A good ratio to shoot for is 80% content you know “works” and 20% “test” content to help you find new insights
  25. 25. Author:Go forth and create Courtney Livingstongood content. Digital Marketing Strategist And if you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out!