Reactions, Comments & Shares
We all have a story to tell. It could be one of personal hope, sacrifice, mentorship or despair. Others could be told from numbers or raw data – the stuff that drives work and project results.
As social media becomes a more popular medium of communication and an avenue for influence and story telling, it’s the metrics that tell a bigger story and help to validate the hard work of a communications department.
What Are Social Media Metrics?
These performance indicators can help an organization understand how their social media channels are performing and is a great way to gather information that will guide your activity or strategy to improve it.
So, what does this look like?
Waterloo Region District School Board
The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) is the public education system for the Region of Waterloo. It has more than 63,000 students in 118 school elementary and secondary schools with thousands of staff working behind the scenes to innovative the leaders of tomorrow, by educating the learners of today.
The school board is located in an area where high-tech development and innovation is all around us, and it is no different in the education and communication industry.
Our students, staff and parents are online – that’s where we need to talk to them. That’s where we, the WRDSB communications department, needs to focus our time and resources.
Social Media Metrics at the WRDSB
As the communications team member that has taken on more of the social media responsibility for our school board, I have been able to enhance our online presence, try out new trends and dive deeper into the analytics side of our efforts.
I am one of the people that our students call ‘savage’ when we share that our schools are closed for a snow day — and trust me, those tweets and Facebook posts are the best performing posts year-after-year.
— Waterloo Region DSB (@wrdsb) January 12, 2016
The main types of analytics we collect and focus our analysis on are Consumption Metrics and Sharing Metrics. Most of our social media effort comes from sharing stories of work and achievements our students and staff accomplish or sharing important information that our parent or greater community needs to know (ie: snow/weather days). The purpose of creating this content is to drive our online community back to our website to read more (Consumption Metrics). Additionally, when we share those posts or tweets, it is important that our followers retweet or reshare those posts their channels – it shows us that our information is getting out into the world and into the hands of people who care or are interested (Sharing Metrics).
Campaign Codes (UTM link codes)
When we want to push our social followers to our website, I use a link called a campaign or UTM code. It is a long hyperlink that has a ton of valuable information that we, the WRDSB communications team, cares about. I create these campaign codes in a Google spreadsheet for every link we share, campaign we launch or event we host.
The purpose of creating these codes is to help track were our website users are coming from, on what device they are viewing our content, and when. Our website is linked to Google Analytics, so, if coded properly, we can easily see this information in that software. It is one of the ways we can determine if our social media or advertising efforts are useful.
Where would you use these codes? Any clickable link placement where you want to track where website traffic is coming – social media posts, hyperlinks in an online newsletter, online advertising placements, etc.
For example, our Board of Trustees have weekly meetings that are open to the public. Each week, I post the meeting agenda and package to our trustee website. From there I create a tweet that includes a link which sends followers back to our website to view the meeting information. The link included in the tweet is a campaign code link and looks like this:
However, thanks to Bit.ly, when I share it on our social accounts it’s shortened and looks a bit cleaner. It looks like this: bit.ly/2sfUXO6. Their dashboard also shows me basic link click analytics that I can quickly reference.
The link includes information that helps me track link performance. If I were to click on the either above link, Google Analytics would tell me someone got to our June 26, 2017 Board Meeting web page from Twitter, from a tweet – as the most basic of information. Those numbers can be used to determine whether or not Twitter is a good communication tool for that particular information, or not. Or, we use these codes in Kindergarten Registration advertising. When we send the Waterloo Region Record a paid ad for posting online to their website, we include a click link that has that information:
Using these campaign codes (UTM link codes) helps my team, management, and trustees see if we are getting a return on our investments. The raw data that comes out of these codes provide valuable insight into the work our communications department is doing and helps guide our decisions on where to best focus our online efforts and spending.
Facebook and Twitter – #WeAreWRDSB Campaign
In November 2017, the WRDSB launched our #WeAreWRDSB purpose statement campaign to help support our new board strategic plan. Our goal was to have our school community go online and vote on one of four purpose statements they thought would suit the type of learning environment our schools and board moving in.
The entire campaign was set online, with web stories and social media posts as our main tactics. We used Facebook and Twitter as our primary communication mediums for the campaign, posting three new stories each week, for three weeks. Using those stories as website drivers, we understood not everyone uses social media at the same time so our strategy was to reshare the already revealed stories, multiple times, and sprinkle in the new ones as they were released.
We set some ambitious online engagement goals. Our first goal was to gather 2,000 votes on the purpose statement website from our school community. We received 2,453 votes. Our second goal was to get 1,500 engagements from all audiences on Facebook and Twitter, combined. We received a whopping 12,249 engagements. And with that, we are pleased to share the campaign was a success.
To dive deeper into the social media engagements, we were looking at the actual actions people did with our posts or tweets. For instance, we were not concerned about the ‘People Reached’ or ‘Impression’ number, but we wanted to see how people interacted with what they were reading, and the best way to understand that was through the reactions, comments and shares and link clicks.
After the campaign finished, and a purpose statement was picked, we analyzed our web and social data. It was then our job, as a communications department, to break down the statistics in a way that was understandable and share our results with our trustees and senior team. We were able to show that we smashed our voting and engagement goals and the money spent was put to good use.
The overall data we collected and presented was fairly basic – engagement rates, link clicks, devices used, etc. – because until this year, we had not been tracking our social media analytics. Now that we have a bank of information, and more knowledge of what we are looking for, we can now set baselines and use the data to set department goals and objectives, year-over-year. This will help us create future social media strategies for other project and overall department plan.
The #WeAreWRDSB campaign was an amazing learning opportunity and the data allowed us to showcase, with concrete information, how well we did.
Lessons for Others
- Use Hootsuite. It is a one-stop shop for social media analytics. The social media management tool is also a great platform for responding or interacting with tweets and posts, especially if multiple team members manage your social accounts. It helps to prevent from duplicating responses and possibly making your business or organization look unorganized. To help with time management, you can also schedule posts through the platform.
- Create campaign codes for all social media posts driving back to your website. The purpose of social media is to generate interest/conversation and share information. If you create these codes and integrate them with a website analytic software, such as Google Analytics, you can see where website traffic is coming from.
Waterloo Region District School Board
Name of Organization Contact: John Bryant
Authored by: isabel.p
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
- Sprout Social Staff. (2016, October 24). All of the Social Media Metrics That Matter. Sprout Social. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-metrics-that-matter/