When is your social media audience most active?

Which of your posts/updates perform well and which social media platform is driving the most traffic to your website?

Do you know how many visitors were converted into leads as a direct result of your social media activity?

By knowing the answers to the questions above, you can invest more in the social media platforms that are working for you and achieve a higher return on investment.

It is only when you measure and analyse the performance of your social media activity, that you can improvise on what works and discard those that don't. It's therefore important to use the most effective analytical tools that provide detailed insights into user metrics.

Here we provide a list of 10 free tools that are really easy to use and will help you efficiently track your social media marketing success.

1. Facebook Insights

Facebook is constantly changing the way it selects and displays content to its audience - meaning that page owners not only need to ensure content is relevant, but also that posts are published at a time when audiences are most active.

The Facebook Insights tool provides detailed information on Likes, reach, visits, video and people. One of its really cool features is the Posts tab; allowing you to understand when your audience is most active, displaying info by day and time.

On your business page’s admin panel, click on Insights. Now click on Posts and click on the tab When Your Fans Are Online.

Facebook Insights admin panel showing audience behavior

This gives you a complete snapshot of your audiences' behavior. So, look for when they are most active, schedule your posts accordingly and you should see an increase in engagement.

You can also track the performance of your competitors' posts with the function Add Pages which is under the section called Pages To Watch under the Overview tab, as shown below:

Facebook Insight's Add Pages feature

And if you do not know who your competitors currently are, Facebook goes a step further in suggesting pages to watch, as shown below:

Facebook Insights suggested pages to watch

Facebook offers a lot of help with understanding data provided by the Insights Tool, including a basic tutorial.

2. Tweriod

Similar to Facebook Insight's function, Tweriod is a free Twitter tool that helps you to get the most out of the platform by letting you know the best time to Tweet.

Simply sign up with your business Twitter account and enter the email address to where you want the reports sent to.

Tweriod report showing optimum time to Tweet

The report shows you the peak times at which your tweets are going to get maximum exposure as well as the times that your followers are online.

It also provides hourly graphs of your Twitter followers and displays the last 600 tweets where your business was mentioned.

3. Bitly

Bitly is primarily a link management platform. If you are including links into posts, messages etc, with Bitly you can shorten them and, most importantly, track them.

Depending on whether you sign in with Facebook or Twitter, Bitly shows stats of all the links that have been shared in the past. You can continue to use this tool to shorten your URLs and track those URLs from your social media campaigns.

Link tracking metrics summary on bitly

Bitly provides data by the day on which clicks occurred on your links, the location in which your links were clicked and the number of referrers for the links, as shown below:

Bitly clicks and locations dashboard

4. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great way of identifying which social media sites send the most traffic to your website. More importantly, it will help to determine which platform needs more attention.

Google Analytics social media referrals

Here you can get a quick overview of the social media sites that send across maximum traffic to your site. By understanding the degree of your social media marketing reach in each of these channels, you can prioritize and improve your social media marketing efforts.

And if you have set up a campaign and shared the links to your landing page on various social media channels, you can take advantage of the integrated URL builder.

URL builder is a tool that aids you in adding utm parameters to your campaign URLs and distributing them across social media and other channels. It is like setting a tracker on your campaign URL that is directly reported on your Google Analytics account.

To access this report you need to set up goals on Google Analytics and then track your social media traffic via Acquisition > Campaign.

For more help with Google Analytics check out this post for 'newbies'.

5. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is primarily a Social Media Management tool, allowing you to schedule and send updates across a multitude of Social Media platforms. It also includes a great analytics tool - with the added bonus being that it compiles data from all of your social media platforms into one, easy to use tool.

Hootsuite link tracking tool

Hootsuite integrates with the main social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics, LinkedIn, FourSquare, WordPress and YouTube. But you will have to pay to manage more than several at once.

Hootsuite also includes a URL shortening tool and link tracking mechanism.

Hootsuite’s app directory allows you to add additional social media accounts into your dashboard such as Flickr and Tumblr. It also allows you to integrate marketing tools such as MailChimp, SocialFlow, InboxQ, Constant Contact and many others from its app directory. Shown below is the section on the dashboard that allows you to directly add apps.

Adding apps onto Hootsuite dashboard

Check out what's available on the basic Hootsuite plan.

6. TweetReach

If you are a fervent twitter promoter of your business TweetReach is a must-use tool to track how far your tweets have actually reached. It comes in various paid plans but the free plan would usually suffice for a small to mid-sized business.

The free account includes the following features:

  • Track any 50 recent tweets using hashtags, usernames and keywords.

  • Quick access to past reports of up to 1500 tweets as old as a week.

  • Download PDF and Excel versions of reports.

You can also try some other free twitter monitoring tools such as TweetDeck and Twazzup. While you can keep track of hashtags, searches, lists and manage multiple accounts with the former, the latter can be used to track real-time niche updates and top influencers in your industry.

Another handy little free tool that helps track your brand's rate of growth across Twitter is the TwitterCounter.

7. Social Mention

SocialMention is a simple but effective free tool to track the reach of keywords (or mentions) used in your social media campaigns. You can set email alerts for keywords specific to your social media marketing campaign that you need to track across the entire social media web.

The tool monitors more than eighty social media websites that include Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg and Google. A similar tool is provided for free by Google, known as Google Alerts. The only difference between the two is that, SocialMention is specific to social media sites and Google Alerts tracks mentions from across the internet in its entirety.

With SocialMention you can track keywords across blogs, microblogs, Q&A, comments, and news but it is however, effective at retrieving information from social networking sites.

Socialmention social media marketing tracking tool

In the above screenshot, you see four metrics calculated by this tool.

these are:

  • Strength: Chances of your brand being mentioned in social media at that point of time.

  • Sentiment: The ratio of positive mentions over negative mentions.

  • Passion: Chances of how often the particular mention will repeat around the same social media circles.

  • Reach: This is a metric of how influential the mention is. It is calculated by dividing the number of unique authors mentioning the particular word by total number of mentions.

8. Buffer

Also known as Bufferapp, Buffer is a great tool for scheduling, publishing and analyzing your posts all in one place. Buffer integrates with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. Furthermore, you can shorten your links using Bitly, or other URL shortening tools from within the app, that helps you track your link’s reach.

All the social media posts done via Buffer, can be tracked within their Analytics tab. You can track the posts that receive maximum interactions. You can also add UTM parameters and track your social media campaign URLs via Google Analytics, from within the tool.

Buffer analytics dashboard

This tool is like a one-stop-shop for your social marketing needs.

9. Pinterest Analytics

Pinterest Analytics provide a detailed insight into your activity. As well as displaying your top performing pins, audience demographic is broken down by gender, language and location enabling you to identify, and therefore, target your audience more easily.

The Pinterest Analytics tool also includes the Interests tab. This unique feature will display your audience’s interests, along with clickable content.

Pinterest web analytics tool

10. IceRocket

IceRocket another free tracking tool for your brand name or a specific keyword used in your social media marketing campaign. You can track mentions in blogs, Facebook and Twitter, either individually or all together.

The tool also gives you a trend report of the mentions that occurred in these three major social media platforms. This gives you a fair idea about how successful your social media marketing efforts are in each of these channels.

Shown below is a screenshot of the tool that highlights the three platform options on the menu and a trend report of citation on blogs of the brand WooRank.

Icerocket social media marketing tool

With these tracking tools you will be able to track and measure a variety of user metrics. But before you use these tools you need to know what you are looking to measure and why. It is a good idea to set clear objectives.

For instance, are you looking to identify how people react to your social media marketing style? Are you being compared with your competitors? How many new followers or fans have you earned? Who are your brand advocates (the ones who do word of mouth marketing for you)?

These questions must be specific to your niche and must give you important statistics that help you improvise your social media marketing efforts.

Remember, tracking is key to knowing the degree of success attained from your social media marketing efforts from various social media channels. These soft metrics can make a huge difference in your marketing approach on social media.

How do you monitor the success of your social media marketing efforts? What tools do you use for the process of tracking your social media marketing reach?