When running social media campaigns there are a lot of things to keep track of. Just getting a campaign ready to publish can take months, and then measuring the results can take almost as long. There are lots of tools that try to make it easier to manage and measure activity on social media channels, but only some are worth integrating to your system.

To be successful, in running a social campaign, you must compare your performance against that of your competitors. As an SEO Specialist, I spend a lot of time using tools that help me analyze the websites of my clients and their competitors, so I am familiar with the issues a social campaign manager faces.

One set of tools that SEO folks use a lot for competitive data are those from SEMRush. This is a relatively cheap and easy-to-use service that helps with paid and organic research. In the summer of 2015 they updated their interface and changed a lot of tools and reports that are available. One of those tools is their social media tool which tracks social audience, activity, and engagement for your clients versus their competitors.

After giving it a spin while doing measurement on a recent social campaign of ours, here are some takeaways.

Trying it Out

After setting up the SEMRush report in a few easy steps, you can view graphs for Audience, Activity, Engagement, and Engagement Rate. The options it has are to connect Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, but not Pinterest or Instagram. All insights are dependent on having the right channels integrated, so you can lose some of the tool’s possible utility by not being able to integrate all of the activity you are doing in a campaign if you use Pinterest or Instagram.

We ran the report for a client that competes in the cooking industry. This is a very competitive social segment on Facebook and that is the only channel we have showing here. Each section has additional line charts separated by channel and with available 1-to-1 views, but that doesn’t change the impact of the data very much. Here are some initial screenshots showing the different sections available in the report section:

Overall Activity

SEMRush Activity Chart

Total Engagement

SEMRush Engagement Chart

Engagement Rate

SEMRush Engagement Rate Chart


SEMRush Audience Chart


This tool could be most useful if you are ALWAYS using SEMRush and are only looking for high-level comparisons. If you are working within SEMRush for all kinds of other reports, exporting this at the same time may save you some time. Tracking these metrics over time will also be easy with SEMRush, as the data won’t disappear like it does if you only use native analytics within each social network.

That said, this tool is limited to high level metrics that you could find by exporting your own data from each site or using just about any other social analytics tool. Compared to the insights you can get from the keyword tools that SEMRush has, this tool is severely lacking in quality and depth. Even the data it provides is not available for you to export and work with on your own, which is always a great feature of SEMRush tools.

Another big issue is that adding competitors focuses on domains, not Facebook pages, so we can’t focus on pages that direct to a website’s subdirectory, like Sweeten which is the dessert division of the larger brand Tastemade. It also doesn’t allow us to track BuzzFeed’s Tasty, with the largest Facebook brand in the segment, because we’d have to compare to BuzzFeed.com overall.


The issues outlined above unfortunately make the tool irrelevant. When you want to measure the performance of a campaign, you need to get much more granular than seeing 4 high level graphs.

Facebook’s internal Insights tool allows us to track competitor page activity and suggests competitors as well. Here are the ones I chose that are in SEMRush in addition to those that direct to subdirectories of their websites, such as Tasty:

Facebook Insights Screenshot

This baseline chart in the Facebook Insights tool already gives me more information than SEMRush does and it even helps suggest competitors. I can already glean more insights here then I could from the SEMRush charts, and this is free.

If you are looking for a good social dashboard tool, I suggest looking outside of SEMRush. After a bit of research - mainly this nice article - it seems like most social sites themselves have great native analytics, and Tailwind is a good option for Pinterest and Instagram publishing, but there are some other reporting tools that can bring it all together. Some tools to check out for publishing and reporting:

  1. Buffer – Publishing (no Pinterest/Instagram)
  2. Sprout Social – Publishing (no Pinterest/Instagram)
  3. BuzzSumo – content sharing alerts, viral content tracking
  4. SumAll Reporting – pulling data from all major networks
  5. NextAnalytics also can integrate data from twitter and pull straight into a local Excel document

After all of this, sorry SEMRush, I still love you, but you can do better than publishing this tool. I’ll stick to relying on you for almost every other SEO research task I have to do.