Taming the Wild West of Snapchat Metrics


Snapchat. Its the shiny new social media toy, but it scares the bejeebers out of a lot of brands and social media managers because – let’s face facts – it’s not very intuitive for metrics. Some folks feel that if you can’t measure it like Twitter and Instagram, you shouldn’t focus on it.

WeAreCisco SnapcodeI’m here to tell you that you CAN measure it – I measure it for the WeAreCisco Snapchat account (follow with the Snapcode below.) It DOES provide you with an idea of your Return on Investment (ROI.) You just have to understand what makes it different, what makes it the same, what makes it challenging, and what options are available to you.

I recently had the honor of speaking at the PRNews Snapchat Bootcamp in Washington, DC on this exact subject (where I was a finalist for the 2016 Social Media Professional of the Year award!) Here’s a condensed version of the goodness they got.

What makes it different?

No doubt, Snapchat is the honeybadger (doesn’t give a S&&T) about what you’re used to measuring. To appreciate it, you have to understand what makes it different.

  • There are no native analytics. (At least like you’re used to seeing with something like Facebook Insights.)
  • Follower counts? Fuhgeddaboudit. If you were vigilant and ever-present in Snapchat, you might, MIGHT be able to get an accurate count of followers. Get over about 100 at a time? Not possible, because Snapchat won’t give you a number.
  • Metrics disappear when the Snaps disappear. Its 24-hour cycle makes it cool, and also a bane of the social manager’s existance.

What makes it the same?

If you’re a decently trained social media manager, you’ll recognize and appreciate Snapchat’s focus on engagement. There’s no follower count, but engagement counts on the platform.

It’s the same, because if you appreciate quality over quantity, you’ll understand that no amount of followers will make a difference if they don’t engage with your content. Talking to yourself, anyone?

What makes it challenging? (In addition to different.)

There are a lot of things social folks are used to looking at to get engagement metrics. But Snapchat holds out.

  • There are no link outs – no way to look at click through rates using your standard tools.
  • There are no hashtags to track. Snapchat is anti-hashtag. It won’t even allow them in your paid geofilters.
  • There are no likes. No shares. No ReTweets, No “faves.”

So if engagement is so important to Snapchat, how do you track it without these things?

Your options for measurement.

You have two options here. You can find metrics manually, or you can save yourself from wanting to poke your eyeballs out and go with a paid tool.

Manual metrics. Pros: it’s free, and if you can do a modicum of math it’s not hard. Cons: you spend a lot of time pulling numbers, adding stuff up, keeping excel spreadsheets, etc. The biggest con to me, is that it’s all about timing. If a Snap disappears after 24 hours, you have to set a reminder 23 hours and 50 minutes after each Snap to go and check the numbers the closest you can get without going over. It’s like the Price is Right for social media.

Tool metrics. Cons: it costs money. But what is your time worth? How about your sanity? Pros: the time restriction is gone – you can go check the metrics whenever you damn well feel like it. There’s no monkey math – it’s all in the tool presented so nicely that you can pop in for 10 seconds, scan, and get out. Charts and graphs are done for you, too. Snapchat makes it hard for these tools as well, so in 2017, we’ll see if Snapchat joins the metrics club.

What can/should you measure?

  1. Total unique views. Look at your first Snap of the day. See the eyeball and the number? That’s your unique views. Don’t add up all the view on all your snaps. Those aren’t UNIQUE views. Generally speaking, you’re not starting a Snap story in the middle.
  2. Total completions. Look at your last Snap of the day. Eyeball. Numbers. That’s how many people viewed the whole story kaboodle.
  3. Completion rate. This is my favorite engagement metric. This is a percentage of how many people started and completed your story. Take your total completions, divide it by total unique views (last Snap views/first Snap views) times 100 to get a percentage rate. Higher is better, lower means re-evaluate your content.
  4. Screenshots. This is the one engagement metric where someone takes an action on your content. Look for the green screenshot icon and add up all the numbers. Here’s the kicker, if you didn’t ask for screenshots, you don’t want to freak out if you don’t get any, because it’s all about . . .

It’s all about your goals

I wish I could say that this isn’t new information, but sadly, many social media managers/teams don’t first stop to think of goals/expectations before starting a new channel.

Without clear goals, you will never be able to show clear success.

  1. Who is your audience? If you’re looking for retirement age, Snapchat ain’t for you.
  2. What do you want your audience to do? Example, if you want them to screenshot, and you ask for screenshots, measure screenshots.
  3. What are your expectations? Are you trying to sell a product? Grow awareness? You look at different metrics for those goals on other platforms, why not social?

The moral of this story is, that Snapchat is the SAME as other platforms, because you should start the SAME way (with goals.) It’s also different, so you need to understand and appreciate what makes it different, and embrace how you measure that difference.

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