social media how toDo you know if your social media strategy is working?

Are you looking for an easier way to track your social activities?

In this article I’ll show you how to find the most valuable social data and actionable insights.

The result, improve your social media strategy on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Finding the Needles in the Haystack

As marketers, we’re on a mission to track and measure our efforts and their success.

We collect information on almost everything you can think of, from purchase history and demographics to psychographic data and everything in between.

The abundance of data has opened up a complicated web of options.

It’s important to know how to find the useful data that helps us make strategic decisions.

The following three tips will help you focus on what matters.

#1: Review the Posts Tab on Facebook Insights

Facebook has given marketers access to a ton of useful information with their Page Insights. Most people use this data to measure their success. We’re going to look at how to use it to refine your strategy.

Timing Your Posts

Start by going to your Facebook page and clicking on See Insights in the navigation bar at the top of the admin panel.


Facebook Insights are found in the admin panel of your page.

This takes you to the Overview page by default. Click on the Posts option in the Insights navigation bar. This will open up the When Your Fans Are Online insights.


This graph breaks down your fans’ Facebook usage by day and time.

This information is updated weekly and is great to use for adjusting your publishing schedule. Make sure you’re posting within 30 minutes of your users’ peak activity times. I recommend you test slightly prior to those times so that the post already has some engagement before the majority of your fans are online.

The next step is something a lot of people miss. Look at the vertical bars over each day of the week.


Use this section to find out which days of the week your fans are most active on.

Every audience has different habits. Sometimes one day of the week offers a 50-100% larger audience. These are opportunities you don’t want to overlook.

If you have days that stand out, plan on publishing important posts around them.

Next, check for the most active times for each day. The Post Insights page shows you the current day by default. Compare it to other days of the week by scrolling over them to see a line comparison of user activity.

There may be no big difference in activity times, but it always pays to check. I’ve had extremely successful posts come from opportunities I discovered by checking this data.


Compare the activity times for each day to find hidden engagement opportunities.

Now that you’ve got the timing down, let’s move on to your post formats.

Tracking Format Preferences

Over the past few years, there’s been a shift toward more visual content. Facebook fans were ignoring most link posts and going right for image or video posts, so many social media managers responded by focusing more on entertaining visual content to keep engagement up.

To combat the high amount of low-value visual content being published and push more valuable news feed content, Facebook now previews larger images for link posts. This has helped boost engagement for link posts while making it easier for managers to drive more traffic from the network to their websites and blogs.

While the new format levels the playing field for all post types, it’s extremely important to base your strategy on what your fans prefer.

In the Posts section of your Insights dashboard, next to When Your Fans Are Online, click on Post Types.


Insights shows you which types of posts generate the most engagement.

You’ll see a simple bar graph that shows you the average engagement for the different post types you’ve published on your page.

Just because one post type receives the highest amount of engagement doesn’t mean it’s the only post type you should be publishing. You should constantly test new tactics.

If you want to switch up your publishing style, test different post types and use this information to set a temporary post type mix.

This first section is pretty straightforward, but when you scroll down you see a chart of all of your recent page posts. Something a lot of people miss is the ability to sort all of these posts by the different metrics.

Facebook posts by reach

You can search your Facebook Insights to find out which posts had the most reach.

Depending on how social media works in your overall digital marketing strategy, you will want to look at different information; post reach versus post engagement, for example.

Sort your posts to reveal connections you may have missed. By going through your top-performing posts in the page’s entire history (relative to your strategy and KPIs), you can start to identify some qualitative factors you might not have thought about before.

Here’s a list of what to look for:

  • Post content. Is there a visual or contextual theme that has consistently performed well over time? Maybe your fans have a soft spot for Star Wars references.
  • Post copy. Are there sentence structures that consistently outperform others? Copy length, personality nuances and literary devices can be a factor.
  • Visual themes. Is there something consistent in the imagery you’ve been using? Bright colors, 3D styling or photography might outperform illustration.

Use the information you gather from the Posts tab to serve up the content your fans want when they’re most likely to see it.

Use these tips to refine your Facebook strategy.

#2: Use Twitter Tools to Expand Reach

Although Twitter doesn’t directly offer insights, there are a couple of third-party tools I recommend checking out for different reasons.

Finding Influencers With TweetReach

While the breakdown TweetReach gives you for the estimated reach, exposure and impressions of your last 50 tweets is great for reporting, it’s nothing to act on strategically. The most valuable information here is the Contributors section.

The Contributors section shows you all of the users who contributed most to your reach during the last 50-tweet period.


Use TweetReach to easily identify people who broaden your reach.

Add these users to a Twitter list and monitor that list using a dashboard like TweetDeck. This helps remind you to reengage them on a regular basis. As this list grows and you increase your engagement with these users, you’ll see your engagement, reach and influence grow exponentially.

Ranking Engaging Tweets With Buffer

The new business accounts from Buffer let you sort your tweets/posts by the amount of engagement they receive (much like the Facebook Posts Insights above).

This gives you the same opportunity to scan through your top-performing tweets and break down all of the commonalities you may have missed.

I recommend going through at least your 50 top tweets to look for these things:

  • Tweet content. Are links, videos or images more popular?
  • Tweet structure. Where’s the link placed? Did you use hashtags?
  • Tweet copy. What literary devices, personality nuances, etc., did you use?
  • Twitter elements. How do you use mentions and hashtags?

Once you find some common themes, test their validity by sending out new tweets using the successful elements you discovered. Be sure to test one variable at a time to limit the assumptions you’re making.

Revealing Follower Activity With Followerwonk

The next tool I’ve recently grown fond of is Followerwonk. Use their Analyze Followers feature to discover the best times to send out your tweets.

Enter your Twitter username, and in the drop-down menu, be sure to change the option from Analyze Users They Follow to Analyze Their Followers. In just a few seconds, you see an hourly breakdown of your followers’ activity.

Note: As an added bonus, it’s easy to sync Followerwonk’s data with your Buffer schedule. Just click the orange button.


This bar graph instantly shows you how many of your followers are on Twitter during any hour of the day.

Use these three Twitter tools to build strategic relationships with influencers, optimize your updates and tweet according to when your followers are online, all of which will extend your overall reach.

#3: Optimize Your Pinterest Activity

Not that long ago, Pinterest rolled out a native analytics platform that focuses on the relationship between your website and Pinterest. While the data is useful and worth monitoring, it doesn’t really offer insights that can impact your strategy on the network itself.

PinReach, which was recently purchased by Tailwind, has a free version that offers a lot of value when it comes to delivering useful data.

Analyzing Pin Engagement 

Use the Pin Inspector feature to review your last 50 pins. Go through the same process you did with Facebook and Twitter to find the top-performing pins and uncover any consistent themes or styles you can identify in them.


Use PinReach to research the pins that get the most engagement.

Tracking Category Engagement

The Category Heatmap section shows a viral heatmap and an engagement heatmap. Both of these charts provide a strong visual breakdown of where you’re pinning versus where you receive the most engagement. Use this information to help you decide which categories you should focus your attention on and which aren’t worth your time.

Whatever you do, don’t pin content to those categories that aren’t producing relevant results. Instead, get creative with the content you’re producing and tie it to a category or theme that’s doing well. As always, test everything before making it a regular part of your strategy.


It’s easy to see which categories get the most play with the Category Heatmap on PinReach.

Over to You

Data measurement is a broad subject and I didn’t delve into insights for all of the social networks you may be using.

To get better at Instagram, check out Here’s what you need to know about insights for LinkedIn company pages. For Google+, read this article.

Meanwhile, use the tools and tips from this article to help you refine your strategic approach to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

What do you think? Where do you find useful data to help you improve your social media marketing? If you have anything you’d like to add or any recommendations for other platforms, please leave them in the comments.

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  • Very insightful! It brings me back to this quotation: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

  • TheMikeBal

    Great quote! Thanks for reading.

  • FB Insights and Followerwonk are great tools. Good post Mike.

  • TheMikeBal

    Thanks Michael! Really excited to dig more into Sumall as well. Definitely check it out if you have the time.

  • Great read Mike, thank you. I find that Buffer’s new, more robust analytics and Hootsuites link tracking are great tools as well. — Aaron

  • TheMikeBal

    I’ve always been a fan of for link tracking but I definitely agree with you on the new Buffer Analytics for business accounts.

  • TheMikeBal

    Hey Aaron,

    Definitely a big fan of Buffer’s new analytics. Thanks!

  • Big Like

    Very insightful post, Mike! You referenced a lot of important and useful tools. @patrickmcfadden:disquss comment really sums it up, being about to manage social media comes second to being able to measure it. Therein lies the importance in not only collecting data about your social media activities, but understanding what they mean and how you can use them to improve your strategy. Looking forward to more posts!

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great post!

    I missed that Buffer now has Buffer for Business. Thanks for sharing.

    I use Facebook Insights (very helpful) and Tweetreach. The stats for one of the pages I manage “went through the roof” last week. I think it was a combination of the holidays (people had more time) and posting less because I was sick.

  • TheMikeBal

    Always keep an eye on the top contributors in Tweetreach too. Great way to identify your influential followers.

  • TheMikeBal

    Thanks for the kind words, I’m looking forward to writing more!

  • Maria Spady

    I would agree with this with one exception: I think the amount of followers online per day is misleading, because people get on social media for very different reasons on different days. My Friday posts tend to not perform as well, because people getting on Facebook don’t necessarily want to read your stuff – they’re posting about theirs because they are out with friends, leaving for the weekend, etc. So I think that number needs to be read and tested with caution.

  • Nacho Di Paola

    Excelente Mike. Se lo voy a re-enviar a mis clientes. Hope you speak spanish.

  • TheMikeBal

    I speak a bit of spanish and a bit of french… unfortunately they blend together in my head because I’m out of practice. I get ‘Excelente’ though, thanks!

    I think it says “I’m going to use this for my clients”?

  • TheMikeBal

    I definitely agree that everything should be tested. I have found that about 90% of the time we do get more engagement when using that as a rough schedule.

  • Tweetreach is new to me, and really sounds like a useful tool, especially as a way to give back a little to those who help you the most.

  • Nacho Di Paola

    thats right!!!

  • Evan VanDerwerker

    I agree with Patrick on this one. The trick is to not let the strategy end with the execution. Refinement is key, and this post shows many steps in the right direction!

    Keep up the nice work!

    Evan VanDerwerker

  • TheMikeBal

    You’re spot on Vernon.

  • Jason King

    Brilliant article! I’ve learned something from each 3 points. I got lost half way through reading the article as I signed up for Tweet Reach and loved it! Really helpful on 3 platforms I’m focusing on – Thanks 🙂

  • TheMikeBal

    Happy to be of service Jason, thanks for reading!

  • Carlie

    Topsy is also great for Twitter analytics but last I checked there were no options for a trial account available anymore.

  • Anna Doo

    This is very helpful as I’m putting together a social media analytics package for a client. I had some of this dialed in already, but it always helps to be guided to new tools for insights. I’m really liking the first glance through Tailwind.

  • Well done, @TheMikeBal:disqus! Excellent post with plenty actionable ideas. I just shared on my Facebook page with a few extra Facebook tips thrown in. hehee 🙂

  • Shauna Maguire

    Having had many moments with Facebook in particular where you think ‘Is anyone paying any attention to my page at all?!’ this post was really welcome! Your instructions are so well written, you make me confident I’ll be able to adopt new strategies and get some positive change happening – thank you!

  • Vivek G Maudgalya

    Good blog Mike. As far as I have seen there is no proper free tool to measure LinkedIn Company Page. Let me know if there are dedicated tool to measure LinkedIn page.

  • TheMikeBal

    They are only tracking limited data on the company pages right now so there’s not a lot of third party apps or platforms available. Will keep an eye out though.

  • TheMikeBal

    They are only tracking limited data on the company pages right now so there’s not a lot of third party apps or platforms available. Will keep an eye out though.

  • TheMikeBal

    Glad to hear it! If nothing seems to be working, try something completely different 😉

  • TheMikeBal

    Thanks Mari, I’m flattered!

  • TheMikeBal

    I don’t think I mentioned Sumall in this article but that’s definitely a platform worth looking into as well.

  • Great advice, Mike! I love the idea of creating a Twitter list of your top contributors. I think lists on Twitter are definitely underestimated in terms of targeted engagement with your brand advocates. While you may know vaguely who they might be, it’s nice to use tools to determine so you can see the full landscape of retweets, brand mentions sans the @, etc.

  • Great advice, Mike! I love the idea of creating a Twitter list of your top contributors. I think lists on Twitter are definitely underestimated in terms of targeted engagement with your brand advocates. While you may know vaguely who they might be, it’s nice to use tools to determine so you can see the full landscape of retweets, brand mentions sans the @, etc.

  • Thanks Mike for the additional tip on Sumall.

  • Thanks Mike for the additional tip on Sumall.

  • Suchi Goyal

    Tried the Tailwind app for Pinterest but looks like all the important features like – find top repinners, influential followers, best time to post, top brand promoters, most valuable pins & pinners, download report, etc are disabled for free accounts. 🙁 Thoughts plz.

  • TheMikeBal

    Hey Suchi,

    I’d say take a closer look at the free data to see what you can learn from there first and then decide if it’s worth the investment to move forward with a paid account. If Pinterest is going to be a main channel it’s important to have the right insights but if you’re just getting started you can hold off.

  • TheMikeBal

    Hey Suchi,

    I’d say take a closer look at the free data to see what you can learn from there first and then decide if it’s worth the investment to move forward with a paid account. If Pinterest is going to be a main channel it’s important to have the right insights but if you’re just getting started you can hold off.

  • TheMikeBal

    Thanks Sarah!

    I’ve used Sprout Social in the past and have only nice things to say about it.

  • Hi Mike,

    Thanks so much for the TweetReach mention! Love the Twitter list application for the contributors– very insightful!

    Content Marketing, Union Metrics
    Fine Makers of TweetReach + Union Metrics for Tumblr

  • Martha Thomas

    Agree with Mike here. I was doubtful about graduating to the Tailwind paid levels but it’s made a huge difference. Tailwind keeps adding new features, too. Every time I login the tool seems to improve. Would give the free trial of the Pro plan a shot; it got me hooked!

  • Daniel Maloney

    Thank you for the Tailwind mention, Mike! Glad to hear you’re finding Tailwind helpful, even at the free level. Would love to hear any thoughts you have on how we can improve it for you.

  • TheMikeBal

    Thanks Danny, I’ve been putting some more time into and will drop you a line when I have a more complete experience.

  • TheMikeBal

    Thanks for making that tool available!

  • Danny Maloney

    Sounds good. Will look forward to hearing. If I can ever be of help otherwise, don’t hesitate to reach out.

  • Danny Maloney

    Martha- Thanks for the kind words! Your tweet was actually how I found about this article and the Tailwind recommendations. Thank you for being a part of our Tailwind family! 🙂

  • Vivek G Maudgalya

    Thanks Mike. Keep me posted.

  • Dave Bugzy

    Lovely insightful article. ….Thanks for sharing

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  • Jenny Sewell

    THANK YOU for introducing me to Tailwind! OMG where has this been all my life!

  • Thanks for the Followerwonk explanation-good to know. There’s a tool I want to check out and the name is something like ‘Social Pros’, or something like that. It’s a Twitter measuring/engagemenet type tool. Anyone know the name of this? Thank you.

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