How to Know if Your Social Media Strategy is Successful

Content From: Sarah Hashmall, Communications Manager, AIDS UnitedPublished: February 27, 20184 min read

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How to Know if Your Social Media Strategy is Successful

Photo of a woman: Sarah Hashmall
Sarah Hashmall, Communications Manager, AIDS United

Your communications – website, blog, social media channels – are often the first thing that people see about your organization. It’s your chance to let people know about your mission and engage them in your work. More and more, that first interaction is on social media. People are inundated with information, so it’s critical that you make the most of the seconds that you show up on someone’s feed. But how can you measure if your social media strategy is successful?

Luckily for us, most social platforms offer their own analytics (to varying degree of detail) for free. Analytics help you understand what is and isn’t working, where you have room to grow, and how to be more effective in implementing your social media outreach. The reports also make great visuals to share with your team to demonstrate your organization’s ROI from your work and to track metrics over time.

The most commonly understood and, by extension, the principal metrics used to evaluate social media performance are post engagement and reach. Both provide a solid baseline to measure improvement as you implement your social media strategy. From there, look at who your audience is and ask yourself, am I doing what I need to do in order to reach this person? If you’re hoping to engage young men of color and see that your audience is primarily older women, it’s time for some course correction. Try different content, new posting times, engaging community spokespeople, etc. and use analytics to see how this impacts the demographics of your followers.

Tip: it can be helpful to convene an advisory panel (either internal or external) comprised of people from the communities you’re trying to reach. This panel can provide advice and general feedback on the cultural relevance of your content and strategies.

It is important that you share what your audience wants to see. While we could only post updates about AIDS United programming and policy work, we would lose followers fast. Instead, we share posts that people living with HIV and who work in the field want to see – personal stories, research updates, etc. – to build our audience and occasionally share posts relating directly to our work. For example, we recently shared a video featuring one man’s experience starting HIV treatmentExit Disclaimer and our audience liked, viewed, and shared it exponentially more than what we typically share. Knowing that, we will share similar videos in the future.

Tip: There are several monitoring services that you can purchase to track the various metrics and monitor your progress over time – Sumall, Buzzsumo, Sysomos and others. These can be quite helpful, as they cut down on staff time needed to manually track these figures. Additionally, the reports they generate are often quite sleek and can be used as is.

One fun but challenging thing about social media is that it is ever changing. There’s always a new platform, or updated algorithm to learn. Even if something has been working for you in the past, it may not work for you today. It’s important to keep an eye on your analytics to make sure you’re still resonating with your audience. Facebook recently changed their algorithms to promote posts from your friends and family over those from organizations or brands. Looking at our analytics, we saw that our strategy on Facebook was no longer performing as well under these parameters. As such, we’ve shifted our strategy, using analytics to explore how to best move forward (spoiler alert: it’s Twitter).

As you start using analytics, there is tons of information to geek out over, but you don’t need to be a data scientist to make use of it! If you have any questions about creating, updating, or strengthening your social media strategy, reach out to the AIDS United Getting to Zero Capacity Building TeamExit Disclaimer! We’re here to help.

P.S. from HIV.gov: For additional assistance, check out HIV.gov’s Virtual Office Hours - free, personalized technical assistance to help federal and non-federal HIV program staff with how to use digital tools and social media channels to improve their outreach. These one-on-one meetings are a chance to ask about analytics – really ANY question – and receive personalized help. Schedule a session today: 30-minute calls are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00-4:00 p.m. (EST).