Unsurprisingly, social media analytics are vital in the era of the data-driven business. But what are social media analytics, and why should they matter?

What are social media analytics?
Here at Falcon, we describe social media metrics as the specific factors that you collect data on. Social media analytics describes the whole collection and analysis process — helping you derive actionable insights to improve campaigns, customer service, and profits.

More specifically, measuring social media is a crucial step towards collecting the metrics that will enable you to calculate social media ROI on your social campaigns.

Why is measuring social media important?
Without some form of tracking, your social media campaigns are unlikely to gain the traction or recognition they deserve. Analytics are a crucial part of assessing how well your activities perform, and how they may be improved in future.

The Forrester report Drive Toward Social Intelligence Maturity, found that the analysis and application of social data could help increase revenue by as much as 50%.

Keeping a close eye on social media analytics also provides opportunities to refine and retune campaigns — even while they are in progress. Applying insights in this way allows your business to maximize the returns on your social media marketing and support channels.

What should your social media analytics program look like?
An effective social media monitoring analytics program has a number of variables to consider:

#1 – Define your metrics
Social media platforms generate vast amounts of raw, unstructured data — but without metrics you will never be able to make sense of it. The first step of any social media analytics program is to define metrics that will help you make sense of the data you are collecting.

What are you hoping to achieve with your social media efforts? What are the intended outcomes? How can you answer those questions using the data you have available to you?

Don’t forget to look at goals beyond the marketing department. Sales and customer service can also benefit from social channels, so make sure your metrics and analytics address their needs too.

#2 – Configure your tools to collect the necessary metrics
With the metrics defined, your next task is to begin collecting data. Every social media channel has its own tools for collecting data, and most come with some basic metrics and analysis functionality.

Configuring your metrics in advance will help save time when you are ready to begin the analysis process.

#3 – Combine metrics from each network
Being that your social programs will cover multiple social networks — most businesses use between five and nine social channels to connect with prospects and customers — you will quickly outgrow those basic capabilities. Especially as the most valuable insights will come from being able to combine data from all of your social assets.

Although you could use a spreadsheet or custom database to collate information, this will simply add to your workload and increase opportunities for inaccuracies to creep into your data. Far more effective is the use of social media analytics tools to combine that data automatically.

#4 – Analyze and derive insights
With metrics defined, and aggregation underway, you can begin analysis of that information immediately. Your social management tools may even include dashboards that provide at-a-glance access to key metrics.

Using the available information, you can compare performance against each of the defined metrics. You should also “work” your data to identify trends and opportunities that are not immediately obvious.

Were some of your updates more successful than others? Do you know why? Continue asking questions of your data to unlock additional insights and value.

#5 – Apply the insights and start again
Successful social media strategies rely on a cycle of constant improvement. It is essential that your insights are applied to all of your future campaigns, to make them more efficient and effective. You can also use those insights to better tailor services to your customers, particularly if you hope to open social channels for other areas of business, such as customer service.

Because social success is founded on the premise of building relationships through listening, measuring and analysing metrics will help to improve those outcomes.

Understanding Social Media ROI

Effectively measure the ROI of your social media marketing so you can optimize it.

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