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The return on investment (ROI) of social media initiatives is one of the current Holy Grails in higher ed. With a wide variety of marketing goals (increase lead generation and admissions, enhance retention and reputation, etc.) and what seems to be an infinity of metrics (comments, shared content, views, follow, etc.), it is virtually impossible to track the specific effect of all the social media initiatives going on at your school. So much so that some specialists are now questioning the very idea of a Social Media ROI in higher ed. But the lack of a direct link between your social media efforts and your ROI does not mean that you cannot measure and track results and, most importantly, make sense of them.

Compiling relevant insights is a first step to know if your efforts are headed in the right directions. It will enable you to maximize your time, streamline your social media process and gain insights about what your audience really cares about.

Here are 3 (often under -used) free tools worth keeping an eye on to keep track of your social media marketing efforts:


1.       Google Analytics Social Reports

By adding a few advanced segment filters to your Google Analytics, not only can you see the percentage of traffic that comes to your site from social media, but you can see the sort of activity users had with your site once they got there. Google Analytics can also compare social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), allowing you to understand which one drives in the most traffic, as well as which has the best lead conversion rates, bounce rates and time spent on your site. In addition, Google’s Social Plug-in Analytics can help you analyze how users engage with any social plug-in that you incorporate into your school’s website (including a Facebook Like button, Google’s +1 button and Twitter’s Tweet button). Once you configure the JavaScript for Analytics, the plug-in will provide a number of reports, including:

  • Engagement: the number of pages viewed per visit, average time on site, bounce rate, and other metrics for visits that included and did not include social actions
  • Action:  allows you to compare the number of social actions (+1 clicks, Likes, etc.) for each social source and social source-action combination.
  • Pages: allows you to compare the number of actions on each page of your site.

2.       Facebook Export Insights Data 

Facebook Insights has allowed you to track the number of Likes, comments, shares, and views for some time now. But did you know that you can now compile and export these results in an easy-to-read Excel sheet? This feature allows you to compare at a glance the performance of your brand page year to year, see what posts have been most effective and which have not.

3.    YouTube Insights

The YouTube Analytics section allows you to go beyond the success of each of your video and look at how your channel is faring over a chosen period of time (days, weeks, and years). Reports include demographics, engagement statistics and audience retention rates. They are a great tool to know where to advertise your videos and to see what type of content your students want to see more of. How have you been using these tools? What valuable insights have you gained?


Complete review of the YouTube Analytics features More free social media measurement tools