You may already be tracking social media shares.

But are you actually using these numbers to optimize your marketing campaigns?

It sucks that only 43% of marketers rate their campaign performance through social data.

Because your social media shares are a treasure trove of actionable information.

From identifying your top performing content to uncovering messages that resonate with your audience, tracking social media shares for brands should be a top priority these days.

This guide will show you how to put your social share data into action.

8 ways to improve your campaigns by tracking social media shares

Stocks sometimes get a bad rap as a “vanity metric”.

However, you can display social shares in a number of ways to support your marketing campaigns. This also applies beyond social media.

Below we’ve listed eight ways to do just that.

1. Optimize your social content strategy

This is the big one, and perhaps the most obvious.

Shares are clear when compared to engagement metrics such as “likes” or comments. If your audience finds a post worth sharing, it’s worth talking about. Literally.

And so, equity-worthy posts often represent the type of “quality content” marketers are constantly chasing after.

Most brands can consistently get “likes” and comments. However, there are often differences between posts that get only a few stocks and posts that make the rounds.

Example of social media shares on Facebook

By tracking social media shares, you can more easily identify your top performing content. By looking at your most shared posts, you can find common topics between them to create similar content in the future. These elements include:

  • Captions (short and straightforward versus longer form with hashtags or keywords)
  • Post formats (text announcements versus images versus videos)
  • Calls for action (“Shop now” versus “Find out more” or a question)

For example, you may find that your video content consistently includes more than just text or image-based posts. You may also find that longer-form labels that contain hashtags work fine as well.

The thing is there is No single answer to what constitutes a share-worthy contribution. Factors like your industry and audience influence what makes “good” content for your accounts.

A couple of quick caveats here. Remember, you shouldn’t recreate the exact same type of post over and over based on approvals. This will tire your audience. Tracking social media shares should inform, not dominate, your content strategy.

There are also other factors that can affect how many shares a post receives (think timing, algorithms, etc.). Some posts seem to be blown up or going viral for no reason. It’s important to look at social shares in the context of your bigger content strategy rather than worrying about the performance of a single post.

2. Uncover posts that are best suited for ads

Most marketers struggle with their social media advertising strategies.

And rightly so.

The budgets are tight. Even the smallest changes to a message or theme can affect the performance of an ad.

However, by tracking social media shares, you can identify content that could make for effective display.

Think about it. When someone takes the time to share an organic post, conventional wisdom says that this post is worth looking into. Engagement is the goal of a particular ad, right?

The good news is that most social platforms offer ad types that make it a breeze to convert an organic post into an ad. Here’s a solid example from the LinkedIn sponsored ads that looks like a traditional post:

LinkedIn sponsored content

Highly shared posts, while not automatically making ads foolproof, can at least help you get the right messages and copies for your campaigns.

3. Find the connection between social media shares and traffic (or sales).

Most marketers today have the job of explaining the ROI of social media to their managers.

Tracking social media shares alone is unlikely to be enough to “prove” to skeptical managers that your efforts are actually producing returns. Hence the aforementioned negative label “Vanity Metric”.

This shows how important it is to tie your social shares to actual business goals and metrics.

Traffic. Leads. Sales. The list goes on.

You can use tools like Google Analytics to monitor how social sharing is affecting your on-site performance. The following is an example of what social activity reporting looks like in Sprout Social.

Tracking of social media shares in Google Analytics

You can also use URL tracking to gauge the performance of individual post links. This makes it easier to track customer behavior and determine if a frequently shared post resulted in a surge in traffic, sales, or opt-ins.

4. Identify influencers, lawyers, and potential partners

Tracking social shares in the media shouldn’t just be a matter of number.

You should also consider who?

Social shares on Twitter

Again, stocks generally represent positive signals for your posts. This also includes people in your area who may be interested in some form of collaboration, e.g. B .:

  • Influencers and relevant names in your industry (think bloggers, CMOs)
  • Trademark attorneys
  • Perspectives and Leads

In short, stocks are a subtle way for someone to let you know that you may be on their radar. Businesses should comb their social media shares regularly to keep an eye on all of this.

5. Find new ideas for content that go beyond social media

A quick concept, but definitely one worth mentioning.

When sharing a discussion-based post, it may be useful to expand that discussion to include a blog post, webinar, or other content.

For example, let’s say you have a tweet about the best (or worst) vacation marketing emails you received and it is receiving a lot of traction.

Instead of getting your brain excited about your next blog post, your followers did the job validating the idea for you. From there, you can turn the main points of the discussion into a guide or list.

Do you see how that works?

6. Determine which social platforms are your top priorities

We’re going to bite: There’s a lot to report on social media. You can’t be realistic everywhere at the same time.

By tracking social media shares, you can confirm the best social media channels for your business. This allows you to prioritize platforms that you actually see meaningful engagement on. They can also identify platforms where your presence will be lagging or you may need to cut bait.

For example, you should keep track of how many shares a post receives on Twitter.

… And compare its performance with Facebook’s.

Tracking of social shares on Facebook

You can use approvals and more detailed performance metrics like those described in point 3 to find out where your time is best spent.

As an aside, tools like Sprout Social can help you get your content published across multiple networks so you never have to thin yourself out.

7. Find out which hashtag combinations achieve the greatest reach

Pop Quiz: Do You Know Which Hashtags Improve Your Most Shared Posts?

Because there are a lot of variables in hashtag marketing. As part of tracking social media shares, determine if your hashtag strategy correlates with higher shares. This means looking at the following:

  • How many hashtags do you use (one or two on Twitter versus a dozen on Instagram)?
  • Which hashtags should be used (general hashtags like #fallfashion or branded hashtags like #yourbrandname)
  • How often to use them (any post, any other post as needed)

Hashtags on Instagram

Again, there are many factors to consider. You’ll be surprised how much (or, in some cases, how little) hashtags affect the shareability of your content.

8. Browse the sentiment analysis to see how your customers are feeling

By now you know how to track social media shares.

But do you know what these stocks actually mean?

Think about how social shares can highlight how your audience and customers feel about you.

Through sentiment analysis, you can understand whether your uptrend (or downturn) or social shares are due to happy customers.

Note that not all stocks are necessarily positive. Brands always go viral for the wrong reasons.

Instead of searching through individual posts to see how followers are feeling, Sprout can do the legwork for you. In short, our tool allows you to see, side by side, what your customer sentiment is and how many shares you are receiving.

Social media share tracking and sentiment analysis

Not only does our tool save time, it also shows you how your customers are feeling without them having to dig.

And with that we wrap our guide!

Are you tracking social media shares and making the most of your data?

Listen: stocks are so much more than a vanity metric.

This is especially true if you can put these shares in a larger context.

So don’t waste your data! From better content strategy to smarter ads and beyond, tracking social media releases should remain a top priority for your brand.

For more information on the latest social trends and how brands are using social data, see the latest Sprout Social Index.