by Elisabeth Crum, Senior Interactive Strategist, OmniStudio
With recent changes to Facebook’s timeline and Pinterest’s rollout of analytics for businesses, non-profits are no doubt looking to invest more time and energy into social media tools as a means of raising awareness and informing the public about their cause. But as with any outreach tool, it is increasingly important that social media strategies are supported by solid data that tracks outreach, engagement and return on investments. Are you in the dark about what tools to use? Let’s shed some light on a few free and low-cost tools for analytics.
Twitter does not offer analytics directly on its platform, although there is always a bit of chatter that this may change. In the meantime, there are a variety of tools for measuring impact.Facebook offers page managers the ability to download an excel spreadsheet full of data about visitors to that page through the “Insights” feature. The data goes far back and most points are tracked daily, so you can view the day-to-day changes in shares, comments, and other forms of engagement. Exporting data on a regular basis and running your own analysis may be a bit time-consuming, but fortunately there are other options.
Twitalyzer is an excellent tool for quick assessments of a Twitter handle’s recent impact and engagement. In addition to measuring Twitter activity and Klout scores, this service will track hashtags to measure engagement around an organized conversation. Twitter managers can get a quick assessment for free, and paid plans are available for more than one handle and for users who need more robust services.
Twitter Counter offers a few more features, including customized date ranges for analysis and comparison tools to see how up to three handles fare on engagement and follower rates. The free version covers the basic needs for tracking followers and ranks compared with other users. Paid versions offer metrics on retweets and comments as well as other advanced tracking and historical data.
SimplyMeasured harnesses the power of data and Excel spreadsheets to deliver colorful charts with analytics on Facebook and Twitter engagement as well as a variety of other channels. While there are paid plans, the platform offers a number of free reports, but there’s a catch: to access a free report, the handle or page you assess has to push out a promotional message about the tool.
SocialBro combines Twitter handle management with analytics to provide a strong platform for sending targeted and maximized messages around Twitter-based campaigns. Unfortunately, the tool does not work with other social media channels, but the plans start at a very reasonable $7/month, so if Twitter is a primary messaging tool for your organization, this may pack a lot of punch for you.
Hootsuite manages outreach and engagement across a variety of platforms – everything from Facebook to Twitter, Tumblr to LinkedIn profiles (LinkedIn Company Pages are not available for management on any social media platform, and there’s no word as to when they will become available). The capacity of this tool to manage and track engagement as the conversation happens is incredible, and the RSS reader makes posting news updates a breeze. Unfortunately the only strong analytics packages offered in this tool are for Facebook pages and Ow.ly shortlinks, so engagement across users isn’t measured as easily as click through rates on shortened hyperlinks. That said, this tool gives managers a much clearer view of activity across all channels, and is available for free or at a low monthly cost.
SproutSocial is actually one of the most thorough and impressive tools for tracking analytics on Facebook and Twitter, with a few caveats. While the tool allows managers to post and schedule messages, recommends influencers, and provides downloadable reports, managing engagement in the tool is a challenge. While Hootsuite allows managers a view of the channel with incoming, outgoing, and follower messages side by side, Sprout’s publishing tools are optimized for watching a single channel. Since their analytics are so informative, this tool is worth serious consideration. No free version of SproutSocial is available.
There are many social media analytics tools available online, but none of the free or lower cost options offer the full package of analytics and channel management. The tools highlighted above are some of the best that we’ve worked with here at OmniStudio, and we recommend them to our clients while using them ourselves.
Do you think there’s a great one missing from this list? Is one of these your favorite tool? Let us know!