Jamie Hammond, Head of Analytics and Optimisation at digital marketing agency Jellyfish, reassures small businesses that social media analytics is not just for the big boys. Companies of all sizes, at all stages of growth (not just in the initial brand-building phase), can take advantage of SMA to assess the effectiveness of their social media interaction with B2B or B2C customers – and they can do it on a budget.
Social media analytics (SMA), as a concept, has exploded over the last couple of years with major platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn introducing their own insights tools. The massive growth of both free and paid-for tools offering increasingly effective analytics has forced businesses to sit up and take note or risk being left behind by their competitors in the social media realm. Big businesses, with the benefit of large budgets for digital activity, have already taken advantage of SMA, using the insights gained to refine their social media strategies into some of the most sophisticated marketing campaigns ever seen.
Incorporating SMA into business strategy
SMA is being used by businesses to make informed strategic decisions based on real data from their target audience, their own content and the wider market, as well as to demonstrate return on investment (ROI) in an otherwise hard to measure marketing output. The information it provides allows businesses to see exactly how well their content is being received online and highlights areas for improvement.
Comparing engagement levels
For example, website owners are now able to identify which social interactions generate the most engagement with their users, using free report functionality in Google Analytics. These reports can also identify which pages on your website are generating the most social actions, get shared most, etc., enabling you to focus on doing more of what works the best.
Are your staff friendly enough? Is your customer service the best it can be? How do people feel about your business? Is your user journey streamlined enough? Analytics provide answers to these questions quickly and efficiently for a fraction of the cost of customer surveys, regardless of the size of your business or target audience. Without clear and accurate feedback on your campaign, you will never know if your campaign has flopped, succeeded or made a difference to your bottom line. It doesn’t matter if you’re Coca Cola, a nail salon in Rotherham or a B2B tech reseller; this information matters and will help your business get ahead and validate the ROI of your social spend.
SMA lets you measure not only sentiment for your own business but also sentiment against your competitors. Tools such as Tweetstats show you how successful other businesses’ tweets are, again providing you with the data to inform your own competitive strategy by letting you assess what is working well in the market as a whole.
Historically, ROI has been ‘last click attributed’, meaning that sales were always attributed to the last page visited. This didn’t take into account the full digital journey the customer has taken before reaching their decision to buy, and has made it hard for marketers to justify spend on anything other than advertising activity. Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) has helped marketers drive home the message that creating the perfect digital journey is where brands see real value.
Cold, hard proof
Cries from marketers that ‘social media is mainly for raising brand awareness and improving advocacy’ often fall upon deaf ears in hard-hitting meetings, with FDs and MDs only interested in the businesses bottom line. Thanks to multi-channel analytics you can now monitor exactly what effect your social media activity has had in your customer, tracking their journey from first touch point through to sale/phone call/service request. No longer is your investment disappearing down an unquantifiable black hole – and you have all the data to make pretty graphs and presentations to show why not. See the example below taken from Google Analytics where the input from social media can be seen as contributing towards conversions that would usually be attributed to other media channels.
No such thing as a free analytics tool?
SMA needn’t be a big financial investment. The free tools currently on offer, such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Tweetstats, require only an investment of time on the part of the business. The time spent researching these tools will help businesses determine their strategy. Even paid-for tools often offer free trials that will allow businesses to judge their performance before buying. For example, Simply Measured creates free reports on how effectively your different social media platforms are working. Training an employee to operate the tools and interpret the data does incur an initial time cost, but compared to the benefits generated by access to said data, it’s a morning well spent. Even for the smallest of businesses, the ROI is huge. An interpretation of the data provided by SMA gives you the clearest indicator as to whether you’re following the right path in social media.
Social media analytics is improving at a magnificent rate. Businesses of all sizes, from MNCs to SMEs, that ignore the benefits of SMA are denying themselves an indispensable source of feedback as to how their forays into social media are working; and with demonstrable ROI, there’s your budget hurdle cleared.