Avoid Drive By Analysis: Get Your Social Media Strategy in Shape With Spreadsheet Aerobics | Beth's Blog

Avoid Drive By Analysis: Get Your Social Media Strategy in Shape With Spreadsheet Aerobics


Flickr Photo by Metro Transportation Library and Archive

Successful social media is like going to the gym because the discipline of a good routine gets results much like  working out on a daily basis.

If you have put on running shoes for the first time, do you think you can really expect to win the Boston Marathon? If you are just starting out or if you haven’t identified a strategy and a good regular routine, can you really expect success? You need to make social media a daily habit; understand the rules, the landscape, and above all give it time to work.

Actionable Measurement

The gym metaphor resonated because lately I’ve been obsessed with the idea of  “SpreadSheet Aerobics, an actionable social media measurement strategy that is fit and trim and light on its feet!   When I coach nonprofits on tactics and talk about measurement, their facial expressions change happy to annoyed.    Collecting data is often viewed as an onerous task.   It doesn’t have to be that way.

We know that good practice is to establish SMART objectives for your social media strategy and identify the audience before you executive.  You also need to think through your content and engagement strategy.  You should also be thinking about what to measure and set up an efficient method for collecting that data.   And, of course, making the time to actually look and think about what the data means.

We get so overloaded by meaningless data collection, that we’re exhausted before we get to do the fun part:  making sense out of it.  I don’t try to measure everything.   I find it overwhelming and a lot of  it won’t help me refine my strategy.  Spreadsheet aerobics is actionable data.   What does that mean?

  • Measurement should inform specific decisions and/or actions.
  • Do not measure everything, but do measure what is most important to your objectives.
  • The data you gather should help you learn.

Avoid Measurement As Therapy and Drive By Analysis

Another pitfall is doing “drive by” analysis.    Let’s take Facebook pages as an example.   Rather than download a spreadsheet of the most important data points for a month from Facebook Insights (the Facebook page analytics tool which was recently upgraded) and comparing it against content, engagement, and outreach strategies,  administrators glance at the summary insights on their page and draw subjective conclusions.

Avoid this measurement as therapy trap.   When we see the green arrows pointing up and the numbers look good, we might think — “they like me, they really like me.”   But you can’t really put that data into context and learn from it.

Here’s my spreadsheet aerobics daily and monthly routine.    I grab the monthly daily data from the insights tool (old version)  and download into a spreadsheet.    Out of the 25 or metrics I could look at, I only collect the following metrics:

  • Total Interactions
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • New Fans (Likes)
  • Unsubscribes
  • Page Views
  • Photo/video Views (optional if I’m testing as content strategy)

I also have columns in daily spreadsheet for labeled “content format”, “content topic” and “promotion”.  In the content line, I put a link to the actual post noting the type, voice, or if it was a fan posting.  I also make notes about what promotional tactics I used.   Then at the end of the month, allocate a half hour to look at the numbers for the month in comparison to other months – and look for insights and trends.

In reviewing my spreadsheet, I discover what works. For example, open-ended questions work, particularly those that allow people to share their knowledge or ones accompanying a good resource link.

I’ve looked at frequency of posting and day/time of the week, but have learned what my sweet spot is for my audience on Facebook and no longer track it on a regular basis.

It is also important to track exactly how you promote your Facebook page and what helps you recruit more fans.  I keep notes on when I’ve tweeted a link, speaking dates, posting updates in my status about my fan page and all the multi-channel ways you need to promote your page.

I’ve also discovered that it is important to identify as many opportunities to set up experiments that you measure and learn as you go. This is where I’ve gleaned most of my insights – a combination of quantitative metrics culled from Insights and what people are saying on the page.

What are you learning from your social media measurement strategy?   How have you kept your data collection trim, fit, and actionable?  What is the most compelling thing you learned about your social media strategy through measurement that lead to better results?

9 Responses

  1. Melanie E says:

    Loved the post (and the photo!)

  2. Jennifer says:

    I fear this is a question with an obvious answer, but I’m going to go ahead and ask. I am the administrator of a nonprofit Facebook page, and I want to know if there’s a way to see how often people are using the share button to post our updates, photo albums, etc. to their profiles or send it in a message to friends within Facebook. For example, I shared one of our photo albums on my personal profile, and I can’t find evidence of that in the insight analytics. I’m wondering if it’s just a matter of terminology and the metric is right under my nose? Thanks in advance.

  3. […] talk a lot about the concept of “spreadsheet aerobics” which is a process of collecting only data that you can learn from. It is so easy to plug […]

  4. Joe Hamm says:

    Great thoughts, Beth. Have you seen any tools that begin to automate this process for you?


  5. […] Get Your Social Media Strategy in Shape with Spreadsheet Aerobics (Beth Kanter): Beth Kanter uses Facebook as the example in this post that explores how she evaluates the effectiveness of her social media engagements. […]

  6. […] Get Your Social Media Strategy in Shape with Spreadsheet Aerobics (Beth Kanter): Beth Kanter uses Facebook as the example in this post that explores how she evaluates the effectiveness of her social media engagements. […]

  7. […] drive by analysis of the above data might conclude that online fundraising strategies don’t work, or that the […]

  8. everlyne says:

    am a social intern with a tourism organisation i would want to know how i can use social media best to track our product which is tourism in and manage all the alerts that i receive.