Social media analytics, marketing and targeting: the best time saving investment

Heather Mah
March 7, 2021

Whether you work for a big organization or a well-known non-profit, or you manage your own business, you may find yourself working with social media analytics. With more businesses doing work remotely in the pandemic than ever, it is important to choose the most suitable time-saving social platforms and tools to help you organize and collect useful data to better target your communications to the right audiences.  

Last month, CPRS Edmonton invited speakers, Beverley Theresa of Throwdown Social Media and Liam Crotty, Social Media and Program Coordinator with AMA, to share their expertise in social media analytics, marketing and targeting to help communicators find the best time saving investment.

With more than nine years in the social media industry, Beverley has worked with Rogers, United Nations Association of Canada, Cushman & Wakefield and the Canadian Gift Association, as well as providing consultation and training, and appearing in speaking engagements in Edmonton and surrounding areas. 

Since 2011, Liam has worked in digital marketing specializing in analytics that help organizations understand their ROI in website development and social media.

Finding the tools to better research your audience

Choose the right tools and platforms to research your audience before deciding on your social media channels to communicate key messages. To prepare for this research, Beverley suggested answering the following questions:

  • What do you want to find out about your customers? Where do they hangout online? What are they saying about your product/service?
  • How detailed are you willing to go?
  • What is your budget? Do you have a budget to hire a market research firm or to do ads to promote a survey to your target audience?
  • How much time can you commit?

“Figure out who your customers are, where they are and what platforms they are using,” recommends Beverley. “Then build customer personas and marketing personas.”

Social media can be used as a tool to figure out what customers are talking about to better target information that will appeal to them. The following is a list of tools that can be used to help with audience research: 

  • Facebook Audience Insights allow you to find existing page audiences as well as general audiences, analyze audience data across the entire social network and off-Facebook, and narrow down who to target and how to speak to them so you can get to your ideal targeting parameters faster. You will need your organization’s Facebook account login information in order to access Facebook Audience Insights.
  • Statistics Canada is a great site to research the demographics of your Canadian audiences who use social media and what social media platforms they use. 
  • Whitepapers are research that has already been completed by companies, and they provide these whitepapers for free in exchange for your email address. Whitepapers can be found with a Google keyword search, such as ‘stay-at-home mom social media research,’ to find your target customers online.
  • Survey existing customers and find out where they hangout online, how long they spend on social media and on which platforms, and what types of content they like to consume.

The importance of identifying performing posts and the tools to do it efficiently

Identify posts that have performed well in your market so that you know the types of content that will interest your audience. What you are going to share is what will dictate the engagement rates. Here are some tools that will help you identify high-performing posts:

  • Social Animal – you can type in a keyword and they will show the engagement that these links are getting on each social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit).
  • Buzzsumo – enter in your keyword and you can see what people are talking about, what links are being shared, and which ones are performing well.
  • Post Planner – similar to an RSS reader, they fetch through posts that are already performing on social media that people are sharing.
  • Drum Up – is a content curation machine. If you want to find interesting articles to share about whatever your keywords are, you just enter in your keywords and it will fetch a bunch of links that you can share out.

Social media scheduling management tools to help with the day-to-day postings

Before choosing a tool, figure out which platforms you want to post to, how many accounts you need to manage, how many team members will need access to the tool and whether you’ll need an approval process for each post. This will give you a better idea as to what types of tools will be most useful for your organization’s needs because social media management tools can range in price and complexity. Automation tools are a big timesaver because they can help you streamline things that you would normally manually do.

Some popular scheduling management tools are:

  • Buffer is strictly only for scheduling, and does not offer audience engagement functions.
  • Later is the same as Buffer and only offers scheduling functions.
  • Hootsuite allows engagement, and you can monitor keywords, reply to people, look at mentions, and do a lot of keyword research.·
  • Sprout Social is the best choice for companies with a big team of communicators. A bit on the expensive side, it is useful because it has in-depth analytics reporting, and it’s easy to assign people to respond to tasks.

After determining your audience, identifying the performing posts and deciding which social media channels to use, building a content calendar system helps keep all dates, planned captions, planned media attachments, and key messages all in one outline. This will make it easier to maintain all tasks top-of-mind and communicate the tasks with fellow team members efficiently.

Aside from a content calendar, other ways to better plan and organize dates, tasks and responsibilities include:

  • A Trelo board, a project management tool that can be used as a content calendar system.
  • Excel spreadsheets make it easy to highlight what’s going to be shared out and each specific time, date and platform.
  • Outlook/Google Calendar will show a month view or an overall weekly view of what’s going to be rolled out.

“The important thing to remember is that once you’ve scheduled out your posts, you have to remember to engage with them daily,” Beverley shares. “This means logging into the accounts, engaging with people, and thanking people who commented. Stay consistent but remember that if the post is not something of quality, it is not necessary to share it.”

Using custom lists and remarketing lists to maximize audience reach

Custom lists, which include email or phone number lists from an organization’s customer database, are great for targeting a defined audience and for excluding audience who do not fit the target demographic. At least 2,000-5,000 people are needed to make up the custom list. Any lower and the ad will not be able to run successfully. If an organization does not have a custom list, Liam suggests the following way to create one.

“You need to have customer data, usually an email or mobile number, that the platform can match their user data to. You can also upload a list of postal codes or purchase lists from other organizations. After you have the data, setting it up in the ‘audience’ area of any major ad platform will be easy.”

Remarketing lists are audience members who have viewed a specific piece of content or performed a specific action on your website. You can then take their footprint information, which can be done via pageviews on a website or interactions with past ad campaigns, to send a targeted message to them. Remarketing lists are available on most social media channels. 

“Use a custom list or another ad campaign before you start getting into the remarketing part,” says Liam. “You want to get the right message in front of the right person in the right place at the right time.”

The social media platform, whether it be Facebook, Twitter or Google Ads,  that the targeted audience uses the most will have higher match rates. Match rates are the number of users the platform has that matches the data from the custom list you upload. 

Facebook offers many retargeting options, such as targeting people by web page views, by their interactions with past ad campaigns, or by previously watched videos. Twitter and YouTube also offer something similar, but it is not as comprehensive. 

“You need to tell Facebook to start creating your audience prior to launching the original campaign,” Liam shares. “You cannot do it afterwards if you decide you want to remarket to people who saw a certain video ad.”

Pixel and Urchin Tracking Module (UTM)

If achieving website click or website activity is the main goal, Liam recommends using website pixels to ensure better system learning, targeting, results and tracking. A web development team can help to set it up. Pixel will make communication goals easier to achieve, especially if the channel is Facebook and Twitter, because it helps to target audiences who have shown interest in your organization. Visitors accessing your website through Facebook can be identified easily and can be targeted later with recommendations to look at your other webpage, such as a survey page, and take action. Facebook’s massive user base means they will know best who out of the people you are targeting in your custom list or demographics is most likely to perform the action that you want them to perform.

“This is the strength of the pixel,” shares Liam. “It helps your social platforms’ ad campaigns learn and it helps them target more effectively and it gives you stronger reports.”

Aside from Pixel, another option is to use Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes to track performance from any digital marketing campaign. This is a simple code that can be attached to any URL to generate Google Analytics data for digital campaigns.

“They are extremely useful,” says Liam. “They let you get away from just trusting Google analytics to tell you that a social media platform was the medium or Facebook was the source of the inbound traffic to your website, because that could be traffic from other users and have absolutely nothing to do with your own campaigns that you’re working on. You want to make sure you are getting the right information.”

Social Media Analytics

When it comes to social media analytics, establish a consistent set of numbers to always report on or several sets of specific numbers for different campaign types. There are two groups of analytics to focus on: profile analytics and content analytics. Profile analytics are good for establishing a baseline and include followers, mentions/tags, reach, and impressions while content analytics include likes, reactions, shares, views, and clicks.

Liam’s Top Takeaway Tips 

  • Install the Pixels for whatever ad platform (eg. Facebook, Twitter) you are using. It will improve your ads, analytics, and remarketing options.
  • Have a baseline for your data.
  • Don’t report numbers. Report insights and report consistently.

If you missed the webinar, you can watch it right now by signing in to the Bill Rees Learning Centre on

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