So you’ve been up and running on social media for a while now. But, do you have the appropriate analytics in place, too?
Social media analytics involves three broad steps:
- Gathering data from blogs and social media websites
- Analyzing the data
- Using the data to make informed business decisions
While many small businesses have some type of analytics in place, they still may not be fully maximizing the value of the data gathered. Or, they may not have a mechanism in place for actually using the data in in decision making.
But, most using social media are also covering the most common form of social media analytics: Using customer comments and feedback to help guide their marketing and customer service efforts.
This leads to an important point: The particular data you’re gathering and analyzing needs to tie to a specific business goal or goals—increasing revenue, reducing costs, improving perception or getting feedback on a product or service. Then you need to define KPIs (key performance indicators) for how you’re going to evaluate the data. For example, measuring tweets and retweets and mentions is a fairly simple way to gauge how engaged your customers are. And for this kind of unstructured data, there are a lot of software choices out there for analyzing it.
Social media analytics aren’t one-size-fits-all. In fact, says Social Snap CEO Nan Dawkins, who has also developed a social media measurement platform, there' no "cookbook" for social media analytics that works for every business. Only some of the massive amounts of social media data available will be applicable and useful to your business. It’s a little overwhelming to small business owners trying to find their way (in a way that makes sense) through the social media analytics jungle! Dawkins cautions against falling prey to three big problem areas:
- Trying to sort through data to somehow find the useful bits. (Don’t even try—it just can’t be done.)
- “Paralysis analysis”. So much data, so little time! While continuing to mull over the right analytics, nothing is moving forward.
- Mindless reporting. The opposite effect is trying to measure everything, which means that most of the information is irrelevant and never used.
To help you stay focused, Dawkins breaks down an approach to measurement into three steps that will ensure that your program is actionable, customized and effective.
- Document the function social media serves, the intended audience and your corresponding business goals for every situation or campaign, because each will be different. To stay focused and specific, create a spreadsheet that documents and pulls all this together.
- Identify action drivers. What are you going to do with the data? Prioritize which metrics would cause you to take action that might move the needle on something with potentially major impact on your business.
- Connect data sources. This one isn’t necessarily easy. But Dawkins says because good, useful data comes from a variety of sources, those must somehow be connected. Start with the easiest ones. There are tools and resources available, but one by itself may not do the whole job. You can still make good progress and take on more in phases.
Wherever you are in your social media analytics program, make sure you’re continuing to evaluate at regular intervals so that you’re getting the most valuable information—and the most bang for your buck. Meghan Keaney Anderson shares examples of social media metrics that Hubspot focuses on for achieving its objectives:
- Channel reports: Are we spending our time and money in the right places?
- ROI data: Is social media generating leads and customers?
- Customer response rates: Are we doing a good job of responding to customers via social media?
- Opportunity response rates: Are sales people (or others who generate leads) finding and responding to opportunities in social media?
- Reach and “viral-ability”: Has social media helped extend our reach?
It’s worth taking a few minutes to read through Anderson’s helpful narrative for each of these points.
Social analytics can give you insight into more than customers. Datify CEO Ben Harper says that while he believes it’s getting harder to be wildly successful on social media (a natural progression of social media channels and platforms), there are practical ways to use social media data to effectively analyze your competitors. Click here to find out how!
Image courtesy of photoraidz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net