In the world of social media, quantifiable results are key.
When reporting on various posts and campaigns, it’s crucial to back up observation and qualitative results with analytics. This is done through measurement tools.
Though there are thousands of tools available for use, some stand out. These are our top choices for free social measurement tools in the platforms we focus on for our clients:
Facebook: Facebook Insights
This one may seem obvious, but the free Facebook Insights data provided to page administrators are so comprehensive that it’s unnecessary to look elsewhere for results. Click the “Insights” link on your brand’s Facebook page, and you’ll find a world of information about your posts and followers.
Facebook provides basic information including page “likes,” post reach, and fan engagement. It also provides the option to measure your recent posts against each other, and against those of your top competitors.
Though those analytics are useful to track, my favorite feature is the insightful information about the fan base. By clicking “Posts” under the Insights link, Facebook tells you exactly how many fans are online by day and time, giving you the opportunity to send out posts at the optimal time for maximum views and engagement.
Then, under “People,” Facebook provides a demographic breakdown of fans’ gender, age, location, and even language, all of which are useful to keep in mind when posting. I can’t think of any information you would want to know that Facebook doesn’t already provide for free, so make use of those brand page insights.
Twitter: Simply Measured Report and Topsy
The free application Simply Measured offers many different reports with insights about your fans and posting habits. Its paid reports offer far more data, but the free reports are useful as well. I find the Twitter Follower report to be helpful in understanding which topics your fans are most interested in. This report gives top keywords for your followers, the Twitter audience of your followers, the time zone they are located in, and other information to guide the way you compose and post tweets.
We also use Topsy, another free tool, for Twitter analytics. Similar to the Twitter Follower Report, Topsy gives insights into which hashtags and keywords will help you reach influencers in your topic of choice. If you are trying to determine how to structure a hashtag or to measure how well a given hashtag or keyword is doing, Topsy enables you to run a quick comparison of three or fewer hashtags from the previous month.
It also enables you to search an archive of all tweets (since 2006) to find specific tweets based on keywords or hashtags. This search can be specified for links, pictures, videos, and influencers, or can simply search Twitter as a whole.
If you’ve tried accessing or using Instagram from a desktop, you have probably realized that this app is almost strictly mobile-friendly. It does not give users any analytic data within the application. But Iconosquare, formerly known as Statigr.am, offers some free insights to improve your Instagram posting habits.
To view your Iconosquare account, simply log in with your Instagram username and password. Click on “Statistics” to view analytics—including an increase or decrease in followers, use of hashtags, posting times, and filter use. It also tracks your “like” and “comment” history to show which posts receive the highest engagement.
For me, the most useful analytics from Iconosquare are under the “Optimization” feature. Here, you can find the best time to post, media lifespan, hashtag effectiveness, and even the impact your filters have on engagement. These can drive your future postings and improve the way you post on your Instagram page, so take the time to get familiar with them.
Pinterest offers analytics within the platform for all official “business” accounts. These can be valuable if you sign up and verify this type of account (learn more about how to do that here). Otherwise, you must look elsewhere to find out how your page and boards are doing. The best free tool that I’ve found for this is by far Tailwind, which boasts “smarter Pinterest marketing” for its users.
After creating an account with the service and allowing a day or so for the app to collect data, Tailwind gives you information from the last seven days about follower growth and daily pins. It also tracks engagement rate and virality score, as well as comparing your boards. It clearly lays out all this basic information in one convenient location.
Tailwind provides a good amount of information, but the upgraded, paid version has many more reporting features, such as historical data. The paid version also offers significantly more insight into where your re-pins are going, optimal days and times to pin, background on top followers, ROI, and competitive comparison. Both the free and paid versions of Tailwind are powerful, but you should at least consider paying $149 per month for the upgrade.
Is one of these your favorite way to find analytics for your brand’s social media, or do you use a different method?
A version of this article first appeared on the Abbi Agency’s blog.