Managing the Complexities of Social Analytics

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I Thought This Was Simple – The intricacies of social analytics do in fact exist, but are manageable. The solutions are reliant on the data as they ultimately need to interpret the data accurately. The keys to understanding the specifics of an implementation, whether it is existing or planned, is to manage the Data, Percentages, Sentiment, and Metrics.

The most complicated of these is managing the data, but that is also where the golden insights exist for a business.  When talking about Data these days, it is often preceded by the word “Big” and followed by slightly ambiguous, yet important terms such as: Volume, Velocity and Variety. These are known as the three V’s of Big Data.  Social Media data is subject to these words and their definitions if you have a meaningful amount of information being tracked for your company or the competition.

The Rule of Percentages – It is important to keep in mind that not all shared information is trackable simply because it originated in social media. People print to paper and electronic documents and share via file systems, chat systems and email.This is a classic marketing conundrum where it may not be possible to know the actual percentage tracked. Most estimates place the amount of tracked shares at a relatively low percentage, but meaningful from a market research and many other perspectives. Similarly, you must consider how much of your corporate data is captured within social media channels as this will influence the level of emphasis you place on the analysis. Data should always be taken in context.

A Few Thoughts on Veracity – Accuracy is an important facet in and of itself. This characteristic directly influences the quality of any analysis originating from the data.  Depending on the decisions being made, this may be a critical aspect to consider. What causes inaccuracies? They may be caused by variations in the origin of the data, such as posts coming from different channels or software. Semantic analysis algorithms, if used by a specific solution, may evaluate reviews or comments very differently causing variations in results. However, those solutions with semantic analysis often provide customization of how it is applied to the data.

A Marketer’s Perspective – Then how will these complexities be managed? Implementing consistent tracking methods within social posts will supply better initial data. Adding complementary information and transforming data as it is prepared may dramatically improve the resulting analytics and reporting. Finally, further improvements may be made by providing context when necessary to accurately comprehend the information. A marketer relying upon or presenting this information must be familiar with the details affecting the net result.

Staying Aligned – This sets the stage for aligning social analytics with sales and marketing objectives. Furthermore, it ensures the goals agreed upon are in fact measurable and actionable. Additionally, it proves progress against these goals can be tracked in order to determine what amount of variance in action will cause a certain amount of variance in result.

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The Intent of Social Media

Post 1 of 5 in a series

The following series of posts on social media analytics provide a sampling of what you should know about understanding, evaluating, selecting, implementing and managing a measurable social media program.  Use this information as a resource to guide you to the solutions, consultants and agencies that will enable success within your organization.

Introduction – Social Media Marketing enables companies to talk with businesses and consumers on terms convenient to them, as part of their day to day life.  If a particular social media site becomes a preferred and frequent channel of communication between the business and its audience, then the marketer has created an opportunity to have a dialogue with these prospects.  The sharing aspect of these sites enables the savvy marketer to amplify their message while staying within the bounds of restrictions that must be navigated by all marketing programs.

A New Form of Communication – This amplification provides the marketer both access to a broader audience and delivers their message from a friend, colleague or respected person within the receiver’s network.  This enhances the trust of the message and increases the possibility of engaging individuals within this audience.  These fundamentals are the same as those provided by traditional marketing channels since the beginning of time, but offer the added benefit of increased traceability.  Ultimately, the marketer is able to better attribute advertising success to the appropriate channels, content and people that influenced the results.

Each Site has a Purpose – Each Social Media site has specific strengths and purposes.  When a marketing execution is correctly aligned with the goals of the strategic marketing plan and it leverages the strengths of a particular site, each site becomes a precise megaphone for the company, its products and vision.  Furthermore, each site enables a company to integrate their messaging within the prospects’ daily lives and interact with them in a manner that feels comfortable and drives measurable results.

A Marketer’s Perspective – Traditionally, marketers understand the process that involves the four P’s and how a channel or site fit into the puzzle.  However, the explosion of social media sites, measured in the hundreds these days, has increased the complexity of reaching the prospective audience.  This forces marketers to be selective of the sites they choose and also requires additional customization of the content distributed to this intricate web.

Measurement & Analytics – Given the complexity of the channels, sites, devices, networks, content and sharing … metrics and analytics become a necessity.  The high traffic social media sites are now providing their own analytical capabilities within their solutions.  While this is beneficial, it creates a need to get a comprehensive picture of what is happening within and across each of these sites based on their respective strengths and capabilities.  Consistency, comprehensiveness and comparability are the marketer’s friend, but are often directly opposed to the results transpiring within the details of each site.