The Importance of Social Media Analytics

Social media gives businesses an unprecedented opportunity for connecting with customers and prospects. While there are numerous social networks that provide you with a vast array of tools for providing customer service, explaining how your products work, and much more, it’s important to realize that simply having a social media presence is no guarantee of success.

Social media is crowded. It’s competitive. And it’s essential to test and track your results so that you can identify the most effective strategies – which is why social media analytics are so important. Sans data or feedback on what’s happening on social channels, you’re in the dark about what is and isn’t working.

Let’s talk about a number of ways to keep track of your data so you can get the most out of your social media campaigns.

Important Social Media Metrics

You can gather all kinds of information about your social media pages. You can’t keep track of everything, so you have to decide what data matters most to you. Some things are obvious while others are easily overlooked. The type of data you need also depends on your goals.

Keep in mind that you may want analytics for accounts other than your own. You may, for example, want to learn more about your followers on Twitter. It’s also useful to analyze your competition. Different tools will give you these and other capabilities. Even people who don’t know the word “analytics” are very aware of the most basic analytics for their social media accounts. This has to do with the number of friends, followers, likes, views, etc. This is very basic information that doesn’t require any special tools.

Many beginners actually get overly attached to these raw numbers. If you’re on social sites simply to socialize, you can measure your success or popularity in these terms. If you’re in business, however, you have to go much deeper.

While it’s always nice to increase your Twitter following, Facebook likes, YouTube views and so forth, it’s even more important to focus on the quality of your followers. How engaged are they? Are they likely to become customers or return customers? Detailed analytics allows you to answer these and related questions. This lets you plan your social media actions with a purpose rather than simply hoping something will work.

Important Social Media Data

Let’s look at some examples of analytics that can help you with your social media marketing.

  • Analyze followers. This is an especially useful thing to do on Twitter. Finding out, for example, who your followers are following helps you understand them better. It also provides you with lists of more potential contacts. This can also be helpful on other social networks, including Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. You can use the information you learn about your followers to make your business more customer friendly.
  • Analyze the reach and results of your posts. It’s crucial to be aware of the impact that all of your posts are having. Which posts are being shared or liked most frequently? Which are leading readers to your landing page or website? On Twitter, you want to know which posts are being favorited and retweeted. The same is true with photos on Instagram, Facebook posts, videos and other content.
  • Identify influencers. Influencers don’t necessarily have to be famous. They can be people hidden in your list of contacts who create a disproportionate amount of activity around your content. You want to know who is most active in sharing, liking or commenting on your posts. By identifying influencers and their characteristics, you can engage with them better and bring more into your circles.
  • Compare platforms. There are more social media platforms every year. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, there’s LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat, to name just a few. You can’t have a strong presence on every single site. Analytics can help you identify which platforms work best for you. That way you can maximize your efforts on these sites and either drop the others or scale back your efforts with them.
  • Save time. When you are diligent about tracking your results and using the most efficient analytics tools, you save time. As you observe what kind of content works best for you, it’s possible to stop wasting time on less effective content.
  • Improve your ROI. While you may have to spend a little money on analytics tools and services, in the long run, they can help you save money and make your business more profitable. You can track how many leads your social media efforts are bringing in and how many of the leads turn into customers.

Choosing the Right Analytics Tools

How do you decide which analytics tools are right for your social media campaigns? It really depends on your needs, budget and objectives. You can start by using the tools located right within the social media networks themselves. Many people don’t take full advantage of these.

Twitter Analytics, for example, tells you at a glance your number of tweets, tweet impressions, profile visits, mentions and followers. Facebook Insights gives you page post metrics such as the number of people posts have reached, clicks and reactions. LinkedIn provides analytical data about company pages, such as measuring your posts’ engagement and supplying information about your followers’ demographics. Other social sites provide comparable free tools.

In order to get more thorough analytics, however, you may want to acquire additional tools or subscribe to certain services. Some of these tools are specific to certain social media sites while others work across multiple sites. You can also find tools that combine analytics with other tasks, such as scheduling your posts.

Tracking your data is essential for helping you get better results from your social media campaigns. If you don’t track data, you will be wasting time on hit or miss type campaigns. Social media analytics is often the difference between success and failure for obtaining the results you want.

Personas vs. Segments – What’s the Story?

In the customer experience world, there is increasing dialogue about the importance and utilisation of customer personas. For anyone who has not yet encountered them, you may be forgiven for initially thinking that they are exactly the same thing as customer segments. In this post we will be discussing the similarities and differences between the two, however, we will also be talking about the evolution and future of segmentation within both the Customer Experience and Marketing worlds.

A million different ways to cut a cake

Customer Segmentation can be a real head-scratcher. The whole principle of taking your entire customer base and then splitting it up into smaller, more manageable homogeneous chunks is widely practiced and understood. That being said, organisations don’t always get it right. For most companies, the biggest obstacle is understanding the best way of approaching it. Rather like cutting a cake, there are a million different ways in which you could do it.

Historically, many product or manufacturing orientated businesses did this along product lines. However, with customers often buying different products from across their portfolio – and demanding some kind of discount or loyalty bonus as a result – businesses soon started to realise that they needed to think about their customers in a different way. This naturally led to a financially-based approach, with businesses organising and prioritising customer segments on the basis of revenue and profit potential. The downside of this was that they started dehumanising customers by thinking about them as units of money rather than people, thereby generating a distance between them and their buyers.

Over time, this led to the introduction of other approaches and information, including geographical, socio-demographic, psychographic and behavioural data sets. These, of course, added another layer of complexity to the segmentation process, with each having their individual strengths and weaknesses. There are, of course, inherent dangers from categorising people on the basis of their location or academic attainment. Today it would be wrong to automatically assume that an upper middle class ‘chap’ would be more likely to be reading Nietzsche than your average working class ‘bloke’!

Psychographics have also come under fire for being inaccurate from a behavioural perspective, as you can often observe a significant difference between what customers state as being their preferences and what they do in reality. One specific example of this was a survey taken of London city commuters, asking them what newspaper they read. This representative sample indicated that a very high proportion of people claimed to read a broadsheet newspaper on their way into work. However, these figures did not tally with the newspaper sales data showing the reality of a significantly higher proportion of red-top tabloids being purchased.

On the other hand, whereas behavioural data provides a very accurate representation of reality, it does not consider the aspirations and desires provided by psychographics. After all, perception is reality in the mind of the customer, so something can be missed if we only consider people in the way that they ‘are’ rather than the way in which they would like to be seen.

A combination of these data sets is, of course, likely to give the most accurate picture of the customer, thereby theoretically aiding the segmentation process. However, in today’s Big Data world, questions are starting to be raised, not only about the management of data but also the relevance and future direction of segmentation.

The Segment of One

With the growth of the digital age, organisations can now have enormous volumes of data flowing into them on a daily basis. This presents the challenge as to how these businesses can make sense of it all; and how they are able to differentiate between the really relevant information and all the useless ‘white noise’ threatening to drown it out.

If the organisation is, however, able to solve this problem, by using big data (which will no doubt get bigger and bigger through social listening, the internet of things and other sources), propensity modelling and predictive analytics; organisations will be able to move ever closer towards an omnichannel ‘nirvana’. In this scenario, there would be enough information to truly create a ‘segment of one’, meaning that with so much information available at an individual customer level, there may be no need to segment the customer base at all.

Personalisation vs. Segmentation

Within this personalisation vs. segmentation debate, irrespective of how well the company is able to identify and profile the customer; the question remains as to the extent to which the business would be able to personalise the experience to meet individual customer needs, yet at the same time make a profit from the relationship. The whole purpose of segmentation for organisations has typically been to strike the right balance between meeting customer segment needs and having sufficient volumes to be able to achieve the critical mass and drive the scale economies needed to be competitively viable in a mass market scenario. Surely this will always be the stumbling block. Or will it?

The principle of ‘segment of one’ is certainly possible in the longer term, however, the technologies available to deliver the experience will need to play catch-up with the technologies and data currently available to analyse it. We’re certainly moving in that direction. The increasing digitisation of the channel experience via mobile technologies; combined with the increasing cost-effectiveness of modern production techniques such as 3D printing are bringing that reality ever closer to home.

In the future, the cost savings people will be able to achieve by not having to get things delivered – as they will be able to manufacture many things at home on their own personal 3D printers – may outweigh the cost savings gained from mass production. That being said, it is unlikely that customer needs and wants will be that disparate, and personal manufacturing will be that cost effective as to completely eradicate mass market production, certainly within the next few decades. Segmentation has undoubtedly got a good few years left in it yet.

Segmentation vs. Personas

Some would argue that segments and personas are completely different (as suggested in this article from 2012 by the UX design company Foolproof), whereas others might suggest that a persona is an evolution of a segment. Having worked with both, my recommendation would be that the organisation needs to be getting its segmentation right, before building personas around them. It certainly doesn’t make any sense to create personas that bear no relation to a meaningful and accurate segmentation exercise. Segmentation validates the identity of homogeneous customer groups, whereas personas help to then enrich those identities for other purposes.

Personas ‘lift’ segments by providing a much richer qualitative picture of a typical ‘fictional’ customer within that segment, animating their personality and values. They enable the business to build a detailed story around the actions and motivations of that person through a combination of the extensive quantitative data used for the segmentation exercise and the rich qualitative data that can be gathered from other sources, such as interviews and focus groups with individuals recruited from representative segment samples.

The information not only relates to the needs and wants of the individual relative to the product, service and channel experiences offered, but can also help build a much better understanding of the customer’s backstory. This might include how branded customer experiences influence their lifestyle as a whole, clearly subject to the nature of proposition and its potential emotional influence on their psyche. When you think about brands such as Nike, Mercedes, Apple and Rolex, you start to understand the extent to which some customers might define themselves according to their relationships with these brands.

All the information is collated and expressed in writing and pictorially (e.g. pen portraits, cartoon caricatures and storyboards) to present an easy to understand snapshot expression and chronological/ historical representation of that persona. This considers their life from both a functional and emotional perspective, detailing their personalities, values, actions, motivations, frustrations, etc. The personas are then used by the business to help build future-state customer journeys and experiences as part of a CX service design exercise.

So, in summary:

Segments

Here to stay? Well, for a little while longer anyway…

Personas

Bringing those segments to life.

If you’re interested in getting deep with your customer segmentation, consider mapping your content to the reality of today’s unpredictable and nuanced customer journey.

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This article was written by Ian Williams of Jericho Consulting for Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

15 Social Media Blogs You Need to Read

We have a need — a need to read! Seriously. As a social media marketer, it’s your job to know the latest trends and digital news. As demonstrated by Instagram and Facebook’s recent newsfeed overhauls, seemingly small algorithm changes, latest updates, and emerging platforms not only shake up best practices but potentially change your social strategy altogether. Add these 15 social media blogs to your RSS feed to stay ahead of the social media curve. Want more? Take a look at our top 15 recommended PR blogs, too. 

jeff-bullas1-1.pngJeff Bullas
Jeff Bullas writes from experience on a variety of internet and digital marketing topics, with a strong social media focus. Many of his articles are real-life examples of his own successes and failures, and it’s fun to read about what’s worked for him in the past and what he might have done differently. He also recently wrote a great e-book on how to use data to better connect with influencers, connect with your audience, and measure results.

Jon Loomer
If you’re even THINKING about advertising on Facebook, Jon Loomer Digital should be your first stop. His shares his mind-boggling depth of Facebook marketing knowledge via long-form articles, videos, and educational content and is often the first to explore new strategies after API changes. He also hosts a weekly podcast.

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Social Media Examiner
Long a player in the social blogosphere, Social Media Examiner churns out articles, research, podcasts, and interview on a daily basis. They also host Social Media Marketing World, the largest conference in the industry. Their “This Week in Social Media” roundups each Saturday cover all of the important updates for the week, just in case you missed anything (or can’t remember what happened last Monday).

IgniteLogonew.pngIgnite Social Media Blog
Self-described as “original social media agency,” it’s easy to see why  Ignite Social Media has remained a powerhouse over the years.Their humorous yet incisive articles are always timely and on-point, including the world’s first “Snapinar,” an entire webinar about Snapchat hosted on, you guessed it, Snapchat. They also have a solid bank of up-to-date social media examples so you can benchmark your own social efforts and get inspired for your next campaigns.

Social Media Today
We love Social Media Today‘s encyclopedic amount of content. However, the best part about this blog is the variety of points of view presented by their writing base of social media professionals. This brings a different dynamic to the articles than single-author blogs and vendor blogs—as well as establishing a much higher posting frequency, so there’s always something good to read!


Social Media Explorer
Known for working with thought leaders and executives, Social Media Explorer is broken down into easy-to-read sections like Tools & Tips, News & Noise, Cases & Causes, and Movers & Makers. The blog covers digital marketing and PR at large in addition to social media marketing and monitoring.Heidi_Cohen.png

Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen is all about actionable insights. Whether you’re an experienced marketer or a marketing newbie, she simplifies the complex concepts behind integrated marketing challenges so they are easy-to-understand and even easier to implement. If you need results now (or yesterday), Heidi should be your go-to.

 

Meighan O’Toole
After working as a community manager and digital strategist at companies such as Yahoo!, Wikipedia, and WIRED, Meighan O’Toole now shares what she learned in blog and podcast form. She’s incredibly approachable, offering weekly “office hours” as well as online courses teaching how to create a social strategy that works.

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Rebekah Radice
Influencer Rebekah Radice made her name by using tangible, real-life examples to support her social media marketing content. Her award-winning blog assists small business owners and entrepreneurs make radical shifts in their social media and digital marketing strategies by focusing on perception, execution, and profitability.

The Social Media Hat
The Social Media Hat wears many (you guessed it) hats. The blog offers comprehensive content on blogging, SEO, social media marketing, and recommended tools, along with in-depth explanations of each strategy and several online courses—perfect for business owners who know they need to be more active on social media, or are looking for more search engine traffic.

social media blogs

Jenn’s Trends
Considered the foremost authority on Instagram, Jenn’s Trends is laser-focused on the ‘gram. But influencer Jenn Herman also delivers tips and tricks for overall social media marketing strategy and tactics that can be immediately implemented. We love her handy resource section, broken down by social platform. Download our on-demandwebinar with Jenn.

social media blogs

Social Times
SocialTimes is Adweek’s one-stop shop for all things social. They’re often the first to report breaking Facebook news, the latest social advertising strategies, trends, apps, and algorithm changes. Great for analysis, stats, and infographics, too.

social media blogs

Canva
Canva has revolutionized how many businesses incorporate design into strategy and dramatically improved the lives of social media managers and overworked designers around the world. Their Canva Design School blog delivers helpful tidbits about how to use the tool itself as well as how to structure images into your social media calendar.

social media blogs

Copyblogger
Whether you’re just curious or need to know best practices about design, traffic, conversion, and content, Copyblogger has the scoop on everything related to content and social media marketing. Check out My.Copyblogger Marketing Library, a comprehensive resource of marketing techniques, strategies, and guidelines including SEO, copywriting, and Internet marketing tips.

Sprout Social
Sprout Social Insights is targeted to businesses large and small, with a focus on bringing you the latest social media tips, strategies, and best practices with a particular focus on engagement and analytics. The conversational tone and beautiful design make their keen insights go down easy, even if you don’t use their tool. Plus Meltwater partners with Sprout Social on our social media management tool, Meltwater Engage.

Did we forget your favorite social media blog? Tweet us your favorites using #OutsideInsight!

 

Social Sidekick July 17-July 23

Summertime and the Tweeting is easy. With the arrival of the latest installment of Star Trek, the Kids’ Choice Awards, and the GOP Convention rolling in this week, there is no shortage of fodder for your content calendar. So sit back and schedule ahead with a little help from Social Sidekick.

Celebrate the Month of July

//FOOD//
Ice Cream Month, Horseradish Month, Picnic Month, Baked Bean Month, Bison Month, Culinary Arts Month, Hot Dog Month, Grilling Month

//FUN//
Cell Phone Courtesy Month, Independent Retailers Month

Sunday, July 17

//HOLIDAYS//
Peach Ice Cream Day

//HASHTAGS//
#SundayFunday, #SelfieSunday, #Sinday

//FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS//
David Hasselhoff, Angela Merkel, Donald Sutherland, Luke Bryan

//TV EVENTS//
Kids Choice Sports Awards (8 PM, Nickelodeon), Power (9 PM, Showtime), Ballers (10 PM, HBO), Vice Principals (10:30 PM, HBO)

//SPORTS EVENTS//
British Open

Monday, July 18

//HOLIDAYS//
Caviar Day, Get Out of the Doghouse Day

//HASHTAGS//
#ManCrushMonday or #MCM, #MondayBlues, #MotivationMonday, #MarketingMonday, #MeatlessMonday

//FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS//
Nelson Mendela, Vin Diesel, Kristen Bell, Chace Crawford, Wendy Williams, Richard Branson, Priyanka Chopra

//TV PREMIERES//
Six (10 PM, History)

//POLITICAL EVENTS//
GOP Convention begins (Cleveland)

Tuesday, July 19

//HOLIDAYS//
Raspberry Cake Day, Daiquiri Day

//HASHTAGS//
#TransformationTuesday or #TT, #TravelTuesday, #TongueOutTuesday, #Tunesday

//FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS//
Jared Padalecki, Benedict Cumberbatch, Riley Curry

//TV PREMIERES//
Shooter (10 PM, USA)

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Wednesday, July 20

//HOLIDAYS//
Lollipop Day, Moon Day, World Jump Day, Space Exploration Day

//HASHTAGS//
#WomanCrushWednesday or #WCW, #WayBackWednesday or #WBW, #WineWednesday, #WellnessWednesday, #HumpDay, #WisdomWednesday

//FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS//
Julianne Hough, Gisele Bundchen, Sandra Oh, Carlos Santana, Natalie Wood

//WEBINARS//
Instagram Webinar with blogger and influencer Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends (register here)

Thursday, July 21

//HOLIDAYS//
Junk Food Day

//HASHTAGS//
#TBT or #ThrowbackThursday, #Thursdate, #ThoughtfulThursday, #ThirstyThursday, #ThankfulThursday

//FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS//
Robin Williams, Juno Temple, Josh Hartnett, Ernest Hemingway, Ali Landry   

//TV PREMIERES//
Live from Comic-Con (8 PM, SyFy)

//ALBUM RELEASES//
MSTRKRFT, “Operator”

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Friday, July 22

//HOLIDAYS//
Fudge Day, Hammock Day

//HASHTAGS//
#FollowFriday or #FF, #FlashbackFriday or #FBF, #FridayFeeling, #FriYay, #FridayReads

//FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS//
Selena Gomez, Prince George, David Spade, Danny Glover, Alex Trebek, William Dafoe  

//MOVIE RELEASES//
Star Trek Beyond, Lights Out, Absolutely Fabulous, Ice Age, Hillary’s America

//TV RELEASES//
BoJack Horseman (Netflix), Bring It! (9 PM, Lifetime), The Rap Game (10 PM, Lifetime)

Saturday, July 23

//HOLIDAYS//
Hot Dog Day, Refreshment Day, Vanilla Ice Cream Day, Gorgeous Grandma Day

//HASHTAGS//
#Caturday, #SexySaturday 

//FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS//
Daniel Radcliffe,Woody Harrelson, Marlon Wayans, Philip Seymour Hoffman

//TV RELEASES//
Looking: The Movie (10 PM, HBO), Copycat Killers (10 PM, Reelz)

Could Twitter Have Predicted Brexit (Better Than the Polls)?

The Brexit asteroid hit us on Thursday, June 23, and there’s still plenty of dust settling in social media and global news. Did the referendum confirm our assumptions of how we consume media? Leading up to the vote, was Twitter aflame with UK youth, while the grownups gossiped over the daily paper?

That’s probably what my mother would assume if she ever logged into Twitter and saw the abyss of tweeny chatter, spoken in memes and animated GIFs (and poor spelling). But just as Twitter has shown to be a switchboard for dialing into the latest pop culture zeitgeist, it’s also a solid barometer of public opinion on divisive issues.

Polling data from UK think tank YouGov showed that 60% of voters aged 50 and up were pro-Brexit and 71% of UK millennials (aged 18-24) voted to remain in the EU:

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Given the above numbers and the common assumption that:
A) Twitter is for Beliebers and Kanye’s latest monologue
B) The #VoteRemain millennial voice would dominate social media

We’d be in for a shock:

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We searched Twitter for mentions of Brexit and each hashtag, taken from January 1, 2016 through June 27, 2016. The Twitter vote was 87% in favor of #VoteLeave.

The tweet we posted the day after the referendum results—capturing Twitter activity only for the day of the vote—showed a majority Leave vote. But when we expanded this search to January 2016, we found the #VoteLeave crowd to have been chanting loud and clear all year long.

(Maybe Mum and Dad tweet after all.)

Next we benchmarked Boris Johnson, the former London mayor and Brexit proponent against the Labour Party’s rising star, Angela Eagle, using them as stand-ins of the positions they and their parties represent, #Leave and #Remain, respectively. Again, Johnson was a clear winner on Twitter.

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We searched Twitter posts mentioning each politician and “Brexit” since January 1, 2016

With far-reaching implications of a true Brexit, the financial speculation alone has kept news outlets buzzing the world over since the beginning of the year. On what side were readers of traditional news? To find out, we looked at the heated debates playing out in the comments sections of articles on the referendum.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 3.38.34 PM.pngIn this metric, “negative” translates to siding with the Remain crowd, or in other words, having a negative opinion of Brexit.

Online readers of traditional news sided with the more liberal stance of staying within the EU, again challenging typical demographic associations. For PR and marketing pros, Brexit can be seen as a reminder to stay on your toes and check assumption about your target audience, where they spend their time, and the messages they are amplifying. In the face of historic moments like Brexit, we have to use as many tools at our disposal to ensure our visibility is more than just a few feet ahead of us.

On a final note, Brexit is far from over. Just in the last three weeks, before and after the vote, we’ve recorded over a million mentions, comprised of worldwide news, from small-town papers to national outlets, from Greenland (3 mentions) to Mongolia (26 mentions) and the UK (155,018 mentions) to the U.S. (245,692 mentions).

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World-wide media monitoring results for Brexit coverage in the news since January 2016.