Social Media

22 Tips for Building Meaningful Social Media Dashboards from All Networks

More than 40 marketers share their best tips for building a social media dashboard that pulls all of your insights in one place.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on March 4, 2020 (last modified on March 12, 2020) • 15 minute read

Quick….which social media channel is driving the most traffic to your website? 

Do image posts have more engagement than videos on Facebook? What about Twitter?

How many new sales have you generated from Instagram this month?

If you have to go look in 3-4 different places to find the answers to all of these questions, you’re already lagging behind in being able to actually improve the numbers in these areas.

Instead of sifting through mountains of spreadsheets and raw data, a dashboard can help you get a bird’s eye view of your social media marketing efforts – often within minutes.

In this post, we’re sharing tips to help you create a social media dashboard that allows you to pull insights quickly and make adjustments when they matter most.

After polling 44 social media marketers for this report, these are the 22 tips they say we should all focus on when building an effective social media dashboard.

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Make sure your social media goals are attainable
  3. Highlight your top KPIs front and center
  4. Collaborate with stakeholders
  5. Understand the difference between brand awareness and sales metrics
  6. Focus on engagement metrics
  7. Be wary of putting too much emphasis on impressions
  8. Make sure metrics are traceable
  9. Keep your dashboard simple
  10. Create multiple dashboards
  11. Monitor your competition
  12. Keep your dashboard up-to-date
  13. Put frequently used platforms at the top
  14. Use third-party dashboards and apps
  15. Keep a close eye on total reach
  16. Have a single source of truth
  17. Include audience demographic data
  18. Look at branded searches
  19. Analyze keywords and hashtags
  20. Focus on meaningful interactions
  21. Create an aggregated dashboard
  22. Monitor performance fluctuations

How do I create a social media dashboard?

Ah, yes. We should probably start with the basics, right?

Before you get started arbitrarily adding metrics to your dashboard, you should first level-set to determine which tools and metrics are most important in relation to your team’s goals.

Here are 4 simple steps for building a meaningful social media dashboard.

  1. Identify all the social channels you’re currently using. Sure, the notables will come to mind first––Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., but don’t forget websites like Quora, Reddit, etc., that will often be categorized as ‘social media’ in many tracking tools like Google Analytics.
  2. Identify your team and/or company’s goals. There are tons of different metrics you can track from social media. The ones you include in a dashboard should only be ones that map to or support your team’s goals. So, what are the team’s goals? Awareness of new products? Demand generation for existing ones? Press and buzz around organizational changes? Map your metrics accordingly.
  3. Identify the metrics that map to your goals. If your team has aggressive leads goals this quarter due to a recent round of funding, trade metrics like Facebook ‘likes’ for ones that show the efficiency of your efforts like cost per click (CPC), return on ad spend (ROAS), cost per lead (CPL), etc.
  4. Identify the types of dashboards you need. In some reports (with bosses or clients) you’ll want to show the outcomes––new leads, sales, cost per click, etc. In other reports (for direct reports) you might want to show output––number of new posts, frequency, etc., and draw a correlation between the team’s output and the actual results you’re seeing. You’ll need both. So, plan for this when building your dashboards.

How often should you review your social media dashboard? 

Before we dive into all of the details, it is important to take a step back. A dashboard is only helpful if you review it on a regular basis. 

In fact, according to the marketers we surveyed, 77% of them review their social media dashboards on either a weekly or daily basis. 

1. Set clear goals  

“Decide what metrics you care about in social,” says Joe Martin of CloudApp. “Some people are all in on engagements, and others want leads and revenue. Once you dial in what you care about on social, then you can start developing your dashboard.”

“Get an understanding of what success looks like for your business when it comes to social media,” says Rob Sanders of Socially Found. “Not all industries are the same, and different metrics can have a different impact on many. Traffic to a website would be great for a startup, whereas revenue generated from social media referrals would benefit eCommerce stores.

It is critical to get this part right, understand why, and how it will affect your business and provide some KPIs to work towards and scale as the business grows.”

Alexandra Zelenko of DDI Development adds, “At the very beginning, you should figure out what your brand wants to accomplish on social media, define what activities you want to be optimized, and what up-to-date social media metrics you want to be visualized.” 

Jamie-Lee Kay of The Other Straw says, “Creating clear and concise goals will allow you to track the right metrics and optimize the outcomes.” 

In fact, nearly 75% of the marketers we surveyed are tracking between 3-5 primary metrics.

Brooke Tomasetti of SmartBug Media says, “The key part of creating a social media dashboard (and really any dashboard) is to ensure that your dashboard aligns with your goals. Otherwise, the dashboard won’t get used, and it certainly won’t be effective. Always make sure that you are building a new dashboard with the goals the matter most to the team you’re creating it for.”

“Make sure your data matches your goals,” says Melanie Musson of 360QuoteLLC. “Data needs a purpose. Collecting data for your goals gives the data a purpose.” 

Matt Slaymaker of Folsom Creative adds, “There are a lot of metrics out there that are interesting, but not entirely relevant to track in your dashboard. Identify the metrics most relevant to your goals and highlight those in your dashboard. For us, these are Net Followers/Likes gained, engagement, and reach. We care less about metrics like tweets, total posts, etc – as these don’t tell us much about performance.” 

For example, Andrew Ruditser of Maxburst says, “If you are looking to reach a bigger audience on your Instagram account, then you will want to track the engagement on your latest post. How many shares did it get? What was its reach? This will help you see if the content you are posting is helping you achieve the goal you want. It is important that your dashboard includes these items to help achieve your business’s goals.”

2. Make sure your social media goals are attainable 

“The first and most important thing to keep in mind when creating your social media dashboard really is setting up your goals,” says Zedrich Mallari of Render Pilots. “This will give you an overview of the metrics that you should be tracking, keep your goals attainable, and set up a time frame for it. Having a goal in mind and keeping to your standards will impact how effective your dashboard will be.”

Venkatesh C.R. of Dot Com Infoway adds, “These goals have to be very specific and well defined. You should be able to quantify them by setting benchmarks and measuring the things related to them. At the same time, the number should be convincing and achievable, and you should not be drawn towards setting a supercilious number. A timeline also needs to be set for the completion of these goals. It is only after you have your social media goals in place that you can decide the metrics which can be followed using the social media dashboard.”

3. Highlight your top KPIs front and center 

Tristan James of Assisted says, “Put your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) front and center when you load your social media dashboard. You should be able to tell, at a glance, how your social page is performing.” 

Caroline Scholten of Chocolate Films adds, “Make sure you know what your objectives are and highlight your top KPIs by platform so you can see what actually matters to you/your company.” 

For example, Cassy Aite of Hoppier says, “Choose your metrics carefully and focus on what matters. For us, that one thing that matters is the number of conversions, while everything else (likes, comments, impressions) comes second.” 

Editor’s Note: This Google Analytics social media dashboard allows you to quickly see what actions visitors take after hearing about your brand on social media.  

4. Collaborate with stakeholders

“Make sure you involve all relevant stakeholders in devising the specifications for the dashboard,” says Marc Bromhall of Marbro Media. “It must be a collaborative effort to ultimately prove successful.” 

5. Understand the difference between brand awareness and sales metrics

“In social media, there are two kinds of metrics: vanity metrics and non-vanity metrics,” says Jasz Joseph of SyncShow. “Vanity metrics are important to brands who want brand awareness and to build a following. If these are the goals, include metrics like followers, likes, comments, and shares. However, if your goal is lead generation or sales, the dashboard should focus on metrics like website traffic from social and conversions from social.” 

6. Focus on engagement metrics

“Focus on user engagement related metrics,” says Toni JV of JVT Media. “The goal with social media marketing is really to speak to the people, and add value to their lives – this will build relationships and increase how much they like your brand. So for most of your social media platforms, user engagement is the best goal you could possibly strive for.” 

Tarun Gurang of iFour Technolab Pvt. Ltd. adds, “One of the most important tips to focus on social media marketing is engagement. Many social media specialists are doing the same thing, writing content, and just posting it but not measuring its engagement. The simple formula is that if you are not getting any engagement on your social media post, your post is not making an impression on the users. So, in my opinion, to get engaged is the most important tip while creating a social media dashboard.”

For example, R.J. Michaelson of West & Willow says, “Your social media dashboard should feature responses from each channel, so you can recognize and respond quickly to users that are trying to communicate with your business. Social media was created to engage with other people, and if your business is not capitalizing on this engagement, you are missing out.” 

7. Be wary of putting too much emphasis on impressions 

“Impressions are important, but not the primary metric you should be tracking,” says Amelia Whyman of Global App Testing. “If those impressions aren’t converting into clicks and shares, then you might want to rethink your social strategy. A lot of people seeing your content is great, but a lot of people engaging with it is much better. Ensure you build CTR, likes, and shares into your social dashboard.

8. Make sure metrics are traceable

“Metrics present on your dashboard should be traceable to their cause,” says Joe Flanagan of Tacuna Systems. “For example, data shows that CTR has increased, following an increase in our content marketing. This way, positive action can be repeated, and negative action stopped.” 

9. Keep your dashboard simple

“Don’t try and do too much, or you’ll overwhelm yourself,” says Meg Coffey of Coffey & Tea. “Ask yourself what is most needed in this view – what are the objectives you’re trying to achieve, and how will this view help you do just that? Keep it simple, and you’ll be able to view as well as understand the data rather than just look at a whole bunch of numbers.”

10. Create multiple dashboards

If you have multiple stakeholders or goals, it can be helpful to create multiple dashboards. For example, create one high-level dashboard for the C-Suite and another one for your immediate team.  

Josh Krakauer of Sculpt says, “Create different dashboards for different stakeholders.

Think about your reporting on a spectrum of tactical to strategic. Your team directly involved with social media execution needs to monitor the key performance indicators that inform their weekly and monthly optimizations.

Your leadership team needs data that compares their investment to output and outcomes.

Therefore, an executive scorecard dashboard should summarize where you are and where you’re headed.

Consider sections like total spend, attributed revenue, progress against goal, and publishing output.” 

11. Monitor your competition

“Be sure to create a tab tracking your top competitors,” says Tommia Hayes of Community Health Charities. “You always want to know how your competitor’s social channels and engagement compare to yours. Depending on the tool, you can see which keywords they’re using for social campaigns and/or activity. Creating this tab gives you a competitive edge and keeps your team a step ahead when developing social media strategies.”

12. Keep your dashboard up-to-date 

Sarah Turpin of Wyatt International says, “Make sure all metrics are always kept up to date, and you are consistently looking into how or why something is happening. Keep channels separate, but be able to compare and make sure you keep records and could look back and keep track of progress.

13. Put frequently used platforms at the top 

“Put the social media platforms you use most frequently in your direct eye line,” says Hannah Stevenson of UK Linkology. “Include the ones you use least at the bottom or in the area you don’t look at as often. That way, you can see what you need to quickly.” 

14. Use third-party dashboards and apps 

“Spreadsheets aren’t the best option for aggregating social media metrics across disparate platforms because they’re time-consuming and error-prone,” says Maggie Gnadt of Terakeet. “Instead, leverage a third-party dashboard that plugs directly into your social networks’ APIs. Then, set up data visualizations of your top-line metrics in an accessible format for daily and quarterly reporting. Streamlining your dashboards lets you focus on analyzing the story your data tells about how your strategy is performing.” 

Editor’s Note: Use this Google Analytics Acquisition Snapshot dashboard to see how many people visit your website from each social media channel. 

15. Keep a close eye on total reach

“My best tip for creating a social media dashboard is to keep an eye on your total reach,” says James Pollard of The Advisor Coach. “You want to make sure that this number is growing. The benefit of using a social media dashboard is that you can see all of your accounts in one place and see if your total reach is going up. The reason this is helpful is that you may have a flat week on one social media platform but have stellar growth on another. Seeing them combined can help you see where you are growing and where you should focus your efforts.”

16. Have a single source of truth 

Liam Barnes of Directive says, “The most important tip for creating a social media dashboard is having a central location to measure all social media metrics that are interactive and readable.”

17. Include audience demographic data

“A default analysis of audience demographics data would be super useful for a social media manager to gauge the reach and effectiveness of the content being posted,” says Saishah Joseph of Flock. “I think more often than not, we tend to think of people as numbers when we refer to data, and that dehumanizes the whole process. If we are simultaneously viewing who our audience is, it will help us gain more perspective and not just think of them as impressions.”

18. Look at branded searches

“When you make a social media dashboard, you need to make sure that you are tracking your branded searches,” says Catherine Way of Arizona Hard Money Loan. “Oftentimes, your social media traffic will actually use your brand id to search for you on google. A spike in branded searches can mean that your social efforts are paying off!”

19. Analyze keywords and hashtags

“It should definitely include analyzing the keywords and hashtags that are working properly for your brand and are in trend,” says Aaina Bajaj of My Digi Salon. “A simplified overview of this data can help brands in preparing for their future campaigns, monitoring product launches, or simply staying updated with the industry conversations.” 

20. Focus on meaningful interactions

Aristide Basque of SH1FT says, “Make sure you focus on meaningful interactions, not 3-seconds video views because they don’t mean anything.” 

21. Create an aggregated dashboard

“Often, companies do not just use one social media platform for marketing,” says Gwyn Wood of Kiwi Creative. “In fact, sometimes you could actively be posting content to five accounts! As such, there is a multitude of data points you can track within a dashboard. But, for those who are just looking for a high-level overview, Kiwi suggests creating an aggregated dashboard. We create a dashboard that is comprised of calculated metrics, adding together metrics like impressions, user engagement, total profile visits, and new followers. This calculated dashboard works great for quick references while building a board for each social media platform can help in pinpointing specific areas for further optimization.”

22. Monitor performance fluctuations

Lauren Clawson of Portent says, “Include metrics that put the data in perspective, such as fluctuations in month over month or year over year performance.” 

In sum, creating a social media dashboard allows you to make informed, data-driven decisions. You can understand what social media channels and campaigns are performing the best at any given time. 

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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