Social media isn’t just about collecting Facebook “likes” anymore.
For many business executives and CEOs, the terms "retweet" and "influencer" won't mean nearly as much as one simple phrase: “ROI.” Return on investment (ROI) is a critical metric for those holding the purse strings, but how do you measure it in a social media context?
First, need to define your goals. Are they both financial and non-financial? For example, number of Twitter followers is a non-financial outcome. And if you can prove that a percentage visited your website because of a tweet and subsequently bought something, then that counts as a financial outcome, too.
Social media data is the new gold and analytics is its digging tool.
Analytics help you learn more about your customers. The more information you can collect about them, the better position you will be in to anticipate and serve their needs. You might want to provide them with information they are seeking, answer a question, provide product and service options, or help them to accomplish a task online.
So…How do you do this?
Identify what you need to know. Social media analytics can take four different forms: descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics. Depending on your business objectives, you can hone in on where to start measuring the success of your efforts.
Here are the different types of social media analytics:
Descriptive Analytics (Is Reactive in Nature)
Descriptive SMA (Social Media Analytics) tackle the questions of “what happened and/or what is happening?” Customer comment analysis can be used to understand users’ sentiments or pinpoint emerging trends by clustering themes and topics. Currently, descriptive analytics accounts for the majority of the social media analytics landscape.
Diagnostic Analytics (Is also Reactive in Nature)
Diagnostic SMA looks into the questions of “why something happened?” For example, while descriptive analytics can provide an overview of the performance of your social media marketing campaigns (posts, mentions, followers, fans, page views, reviews, pins, etc.), diagnostic analytics can consolidate this data into a single view to see what worked in your past campaigns and what didn’t.
Predictive Analytics (Is Proactive in Nature)
Predictive analytics involves analyzing large amounts of accumulated social media data to predict a future event. It deals with the question of “what will happen and/or why will it happen?”
Prescriptive Analytics (Is also Proactive in Nature)
While predictive analytics help to predict the future, prescriptive analytics suggest the best action to take when handling a scenario (Lustig, Dietrich, et al. 2010). For example, if you have groups of social media users that display certain patterns of buying behavior, how can you optimize your offering to each group? Like predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics has not yet found its way into social media data.
Now you need to select the right digging tool for the job!
This is a very brief, yet important list of the basic tools you need in your SMA toolbox. Most of these important tools are completely free:
Facebook offers a simple place to start monitoring the performance of your social posts and other activity. Facebook Insights is a free tool that lets social administrators track user interaction on their pages to better understand overall performance. The Insights dashboard displays page "Likes," visits, and engagement metrics including clicks, comments and shares. This data can help marketers make informed decisions on how to best connect with a brand's audience.
Google Analytics is a powerful, comprehensive, and free set of tools designed to monitor, analyze, and gather insight across various media and platforms. Google takes a more business-centered approach to social media by focusing on the aspects that deliver value and impact for brands. The tools place a monetary value on each goal to further illustrate social media's impact and recognize followers' most frequent activities. Managers can also set up advanced Google Analytics segments to monitor and compare traffic across multiple social platforms.
Another effective and free tool, Twitter Analytics offers many valuable marketing features. You can dig up details on your tweets and Twitter followers. The main dashboard displays total impressions, engagement rates, link clicks, re-tweets, “favorites” and replies. It's simple to quickly identify the tweets that performed best during specific time periods. Twitter's mobile app also offers some of these features.
If you are an administrator of a company page on LinkedIn, you can view more details on the organization’s performance in the platform by clicking on the site’s analytics tabs. This business-oriented social network organizes data by updates, followers, and visitors. Updates include information on audience reach, impressions, clicks, interactions, followers and engagement rates.
Pinterest, a relative newcomer to the social analytics market, currently offers its tools exclusively to business customers. Pinterest's analytics utilities are organized by profile, audience, and site. The tools provide details on how people use the "Pin It" button, how viewers interact with a site's "pins," and the all-time, highest-performing pins. Pinterest provides advice on how to increase impressions, clicks and "re-pins." Users can also sort data by device type or platform and export data to spreadsheets.
Hootsuite is a social media management dashboard that boasts more than 10 million users, and it’s one of the oldest tools of its kind. Hootsuite aims to help companies manage their full social lifecycles by taking on a management-type role in the process. Hootsuite offers a limited set of free tools, and its advanced options start at $10 a month. The utilities can be used to schedule tweets and Facebook posts, monitor conversations, build custom analytics reports and improve workflows via assigned tasks and real-time notifications.
Setting your business goals, selecting the type of business analytics that you need, and picking the correct tool will help you to:
- Target your posts and content;
- Save money on advertising and marketing;
- Optimize content to support your marketing strategy;
- Provide better customer service; and
- See the ROI for your investment in social media.
Now you’re ready to lace up your sneakers and start the race! Need more advice on best tools and practices? Leave a comment below!