Every entrepreneur knows just how important social media can be to the success of your business. But to really experience the maximum impact, you need to understand how to most effectively use it and what mistakes to avoid. Analyzing social media data is crucial to separating yourself from the rest of the pack, yet many simply don’t know where to begin.

There’s plenty of data available for all of the major social-media networks, and it is relatively simple to analyze. The data gives you insights into what is working and what isn't, so that you can better tailor your efforts to exactly what you need to excel and take your brand to the next level.

With that in mind, there are numerous strategies you can employ to harvest the most from social-media data. And regular use of these tools will allow you to better predict behavior and traffic origins, so you can pinpoint how your efforts work to create maximum user engagement.

1. Run Consistent A/B Tests

A/B tests are effective tools to isolate specific variables, so that you can very easily see how your efforts are working. There’s even a free tool from Google Analytics that allows you to access this data by setting up your own A/B tests on your website.

Take two variations of your page and set up a goal for each of these. Goals can include things like downloading a resource or clicking a signup button. Google Analytics does the rest of the work. This tool will send a predetermined percentage of visitors to the different variations and then gather and analyze the data.

This is an easy way to test your landing pages and get a better idea of the experience your social-media visitors are having. It reduces the friction associated with directing users from social media to your website.

2. Take Advantage of Facebook Insights

A Facebook page is a social-media staple. Facebook Insights gives you data on everything that you share, and you can easily take the data and export it to an Excel spreadsheet for easy analysis. If you’re trying to determine what the ideal number of daily posts is to keep people interested and returning to your website, this tool can help you determine that information.

Ben Oren, a leading digital marketing professional based out of Miami, relies heavily on data for various social-media campaigns he runs for clients. “When planning a social campaign aimed at getting engagement, content is important--but so is data. When you post, you should carefully consider time of day, text length, and most engaged demographic, according to the particular page’s insights,” he says. “There’s a science to making it all seem effortless.”

3. Tag It and Track It

For the optimal understanding and execution of what’s discovered in your social-media data, customer relationship management (CRM) software is essential to get you to the next level. Essentially, CRM software accurately predicts user behavior and traffic origins, to better track how your efforts are performing and boost your local marketing efforts through such things as personalized emails and offers.

Google URL builder is another excellent tool that allows you to get a variety of identifying information types for any link on your website. Simply take the link and add unique UTM parameters to see which social-media network the visitor comes from and how he or she reacts.

Either of these tools will help you determine which social-media network people are coming from and how they behave once they come to your website. This type of information is invaluable, since it clearly illustrates which social-media vehicles produce your greatest user engagement. With that information, you have all you need to home in on which forms of social media require your greatest commitment.

Published on: Sep 16, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.