It’s always satisfying to put your company’s message out on social media and see that it’s being engaged with, shared, and amplified.

But if you’re like many other small- to medium-sized businesses, getting a sense of how successful your social media marketing efforts are can be a major challenge. That’s exactly where social media analytics tools can help.

Social analytics platforms and services help businesses measure typical social media key performance indicators (KPIs) in the four critical areas of reach, engagement, amplification, and economics. Analytics tools also measure more specific metrics like followers, likes, mentions, comments, shares, retweets, and sales conversions.

Here are five of the top social media analytics tools that businesses should consider implementing in 2017 to measure social media success and return on investment.

1. Hootsuite

A screenshot of user’s Hootsuite dashboard. Credit: LinkedIn

Hootsuite represents one of the best platforms for those just getting started with analytics. Hootsuite is an “all-in-one” social-media platform, allowing businesses to schedule posts across multiple social channels, monitor performance in real-time, and create social media analytics reports. While the free version of Hootsuite offers basic analytics, users can upgrade to more robust plans that offer customizable and exportable reporting features. These range from Hootsuite Professional at $19 per month, all the way up to Hootsuite Business at $499 per month.

2. Nuvi

A view of a Nuvi dashboard. Credit: Sugar Exchange

Billing itself as “the world’s most stunning” tool for social media data visualization and analytics, Nuvi’s social analytics platform is used by big brands like Warner Bros., as well as many small-to medium-sized businesses. Nuvi combines its beautiful visualization with real-time streaming analytics to monitor social conversations and gives insights to businesses as to where they should prioritize responses. Custom pricing starts at around $300 per month.

3. Sprout Social

A screenshot of some of Sprout Social’s features. Credit: Google Chrome Store

One of the longest-standing social media management platforms available, Sprout’s social analytics tool is one of the few on the market that can integrate social media data gleaned from both Google Analytics and Bit.ly to provide an in-depth picture of performance. Sprout Social’s reporting suite is easy to navigate and is built to efficiently export analytics data for reports and presentations. Users can drill down into social KPIs such as link clicks, impressions, and followers gained through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram activity.

Sprout also contains a Twitter comparison feature that lets businesses compare metrics like engagement and follower growth against competitors. With additional features such as mention monitoring and ability to build report queries, Sprout is one of the best values in the social media analytics market. Plans start at $99 per month with a 30-day free trial.

4. Buffer

A view on Buffer’s analytics tools. Credit: Buffer

While Buffer is built primarily for scheduling and sharing posts on most of the major social platforms, the analytics tools included in its Awesome Plan represent a great low-cost value for businesses on a limited budget. Available on a free trial basis, the $10-a-month plan lets users view how their posts performed over a single day, week, month, or three-month period. Buffer also offers a breakdown of the least and most popular posts, along with drill-down metrics like clicks, mentions, and retweets. There’s also its Re-Buffer feature, which lets users easily take the most popular posts and place them back into the published queue for re-posting.

5. Brand24

Credit: Brandwatch.com

Brand24 is one of the most effective social-monitoring and analytics tools, focusing on social-media chatter around your brand as well as related topics and hashtags. Designed for businesses of all sizes, users can sign up and start a basic plan for as low as $49 per month. Some of the unique features that make Brand24 stand out from the competition include its sentiment analysis, discussion volume charts, and influence score. Brand24’s influencer analytics are particularly powerful, gauging not only likes and shares, but also the influence of the specific individuals who are doing so. Brand24 also goes further than most platforms in terms of linking social analytics to sales, with functionality to help identify social media engagements and mentions that are likely to lead to sales opportunities.

The social analytics space is filled with tons of tools and technologies that can help small businesses monitor and measure the success of their social media marketing efforts. Companies like HootSuite, Buffer, and Brand24, among others, are a representation of some of the best platforms on the market that can not only provide in-depth information on your social KPIs, but do so at a reasonable price point.

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