“Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.”
Every day, we make decisions based on information. What we often fail to realize is that HOW this information is gathered and presented is equally as important as the information itself.
Let’s take a closer look at information gathering to see how we can eliminate burden and maximize benefit with social media analytics.
Know What You Can Track
This is the most essential step in the entire process of analytics. With all the different social APIs out there, some information can be tracked more easily than others.
For instance, Twitter Search doesn’t include the total number of hits in its results. Even within Google, Blog Search returns the total results in its Feed for the results, and the standard Google Search doesn’t. The record count is accessible through the AJAX API, but that requires some programming to access the data.
Knowing what information is available is a great first step.
Know What You CAN’T Track
Knowing the ins and outs of the various social APIs is extremely helpful in information gathering, but even more useful is knowing what you can’t track. Some of the most important metrics are often the most difficult: number of actual leads generated, number of visits to brick-and-mortar store, etc…
In social campaigns, hard metrics like ROI are often overlooked, even though they are the true measure of success. No amount of Twitter followers is going to help your business if you aren’t making money.
Don’t just throw your hands up and give up on these hard metrics — sometimes it is simpler than you think. Talk to the people in your organization who manage your databases, and see if there is a way to integrate that information into your social analytics.
See the Forest For The Trees
Some of the most important insights are gleaned from combining information from various sources. For instance: Google Analytics says you had a 900% increase in traffic this month, with a majority of the new traffic coming from Twitter.
Awesome, right? Well, not necessarily. What if most of that traffic was driven to your blog to make negative comments? Traffic does not necessarily denote success — and this is where aggregating metrics becomes a powerful tool. The more information you have, the easier it will be to step back and see the big picture.
Show Me The Data
Through visual charts and reports, it is easy to make it look like a campaign is succeeding, even if it is not. There are a few things to watch out for here.
First, make sure you know exactly what the numbers mean. Sure, your fancy new “Buzz” score sounds cool, but how is it being calculated? Some metrics include generic search terms that don’t include anything specific to your brand, and this should be made clear in the reports.
If lots of people are buzzing about “cars” in general, that doesn’t mean much to a local dealership, and it probably won’t impact sales. These types of metrics are important of track overall trends, but unless they are targeted to your brand, they don’t represent success of the campaign. Knowing exactly where these numbers come from allow better insight into their significance.
From Strategy to Action
In the end, having the right information will make the business decisions much easier. It will allow you to monitor the trends, build an informed strategy, and execute that strategy with confidence.
Do you use analytics to make better decisions? How has it worked (or not worked) for you?
Photo Credit: Ben Weiner