In 1963, William Bruce Cameron wrote in a book about sociology “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts” and that’s just as true about social media today as it was about sociology 50+ years ago. One of the great things about the social ecosystem for marketers is that almost any data point can be measured, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every statistic is relevant or being used in the right way.
Here based on ListenFirst’s extensive experience helping marketers with social network listening is the top three mistakes that should be avoided around social media measurement and in developing your social analytics strategy.
Mistake #1: Looking to a different vendor to satisfy each individual social data need
Think back to a time you missed an outing with friends. You catch up with each of them individually later, and of course something spectacular happened while you were gone. Each person tells you their version of the story with their own twists and translations. But what if just one of your friends told the story, or some of them told you the story together? They started from the beginning, laid out the facts, and let you ask questions. Or, they built on each other’s narrative, adding more context and insight, leaving you with the impression you didn’t miss a thing.
Measuring social media is very much the same. There are various solutions in the market that specialize in only one side of the story, whether that is video analytics, social listening, or content optimization. But, these “point” solutions alone tell only part of your brand’s story. Chances are high these different solutions use the same social terms to mean different things. We sometimes assume we are all using the same metrics ruler. Spoiler alert: we are most certainly not. That’s where things get confusing.
Let’s take the term “Organic” for instance. Ask anyone in digital ad sales, they’ll tell you organic represents content that is unpaid or response in relation to content that is not influenced by paid spend, but ask a social strategist, and they might tell you it’s any user-generated content or audience interaction with owned content. All definitions are correct.
Having one or only a handful of social solutions, however, helps to eliminate the confusion and inconsistencies. With inconsistency being the executioner of accurate storytelling, it’s crucial to know where your data comes from, how to translate it, and most importantly, how to defend it. Selecting a solution that captures and unites all of your brand’s social signals– owned, earned, organic, and paid–can give you a more complete understanding of your customer, deeper insights into your brand’s social performance, and ultimately, better analytics to help you drive better strategies.
Mistake #2: Allowing big numbers to seduce you
We get it – big numbers are sexy, but without context, they can be misleading. Imagine bragging to your friends that you left the casino last night with a grand, but in reality you started there $2K. Yeah, you left with $1,000, but you lost that much as well. It’s the way we tell stories with data that is vital to insightful analysis. To tell smart stories, we need to analyze performance within historical context, as well as competitive context.
Take Papa John’s quarterly engagement, for example The quick-service restaurant saw an 85% rise in Social Engagement in Q4 2017. While one might jump ahead and falsely attribute to a new specific campaign or promotion, historical context tells us something else, showing that rises in Q4 for Papa John’s is cyclical, and they should expect a fall in Q1 2018 (which they did). Again putting this jump in engagement in perspective, we see that Papa John’s lagged behind among its broader competitive set, tracking behind Arby’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King for engagement in 2017.
Mistake #3: Letting your data sit in a silo. (You have the data, now what?)
Collecting data is one thing, but applying it is a whole other beast. In a perfect world, you have a solution that lets you know what’s working and what isn’t and now it’s your time to act, quickly and efficiently, applying the data to business objectives. But of course, it’s not always that simple. More often than not, we get bogged down by the influx of information, not sure where to move next – so we sit on it.
First things first, we need to make sure that social data sits alongside digital and offline data, and that you’re looking at them both separately and together. Social data is critical for 1) better understanding our customers’ behaviors and interests, 2) helping us optimize creative that can work best for the kind of response we want, and 3) giving us insights into ways to improve and innovate on products. When social data is combined with digital and offline data (survey data, store sales, etc), you can start to define company KPIs that inform overall business outcomes. .. The goal is offline success – turn measurement into action for a broader customer base, increased customer loyalty, and higher sales.
Tackling social media might feel like a mine field, and there are definitely bad habits that need to be avoided, such as trying to synthesize data from too many different vendors, overemphasizing metric volume without context, and suffering from information paralysis. However, for marketers who partner with the right social media monitoring platform, that mountain of overwhelming data points gets whittled down to the essential and actionable insights needed for optimizing your social media performance.