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Don't Fear the Data: How Communicators Can Overcome Their Fear of Metrics to Improve Social ROI

When people think of social media, they often think of people and content. Even though numbers and data are a key part of social media's DNA, it's not uncommon to cast them aside, focusing on content or sticking to surface figures like “number of comments.” Instead, communicators should recognize how important social media analytics is for navigating your campaign to success. In order to truly improve your ROI, it's important to start embracing the data. Here are five tips for how communications professionals can stop being afraid and learn to love the data:

  1. Identify How Social Media Fits Into Your Strategy

This is the starting point for developing a strong metrics based social listening strategy, what you measure depends on goals you are trying to achieve. Are you using social to drive awareness around a particular product or service? Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Aside from being an important part of developing any strategy, this process will also help you narrow down the social media metrics you need to measure. With fewer metrics to track, you’re less likely to be overwhelmed with data.

  1. Choose Your Metric Goals Before You Begin

When it comes to social media analytics it’s easy to fall into the trap of just identifying “interesting” figures. You might notice a big spike in buzz here or a lot of shares for tweets using a particular hashtag there. Such statistics can be helpful, but to measure results efficiently you need to set measurement goals before your campaigns, not after. Again, the key is simplicity. Look at past performance, understand your objectives, and then create a few reasonable goals for social media metrics. It can take a while to work out what is “reasonable” but looking at competitor performance can also help to give you an idea.

  1. Go Beyond Standard Metrics

Social networks offer a lot of “simple” metrics like retweets on Twitter, shares on Facebook or likes on Instagram but today, social media analytics can give you more. For example, you can look at retweets by Twitter users with over 100,000 followers or Facebook response rate. The metrics that matter for you will depend on how social fits into your business strategy, but looking beyond the obvious can help you get more targeted, relevant insights that will give you an edge.

  1. Brush Up On The Basics

Social listening tools offer up a lot of metrics on a platter for communicators to use but with a couple of simple tricks you can make sure you’re getting the most relevant data. There’s no need to take a statistics course, just make sure to remember the difference between averages and medians. Take a quick look to see if certain numbers are skewing your results. Having just a few simple statistics skills will make you feel a lot more confident when you’re trying to deal with data.

  1. Be Cautious At First

When you’re first trying to get to grips with metrics and especially social metrics where the numbers can be quite large, it’s a good idea to exercise a bit of caution before making impressive claims using social data. With so many numbers flying around its important pay attention to detail and triple-check your figures. If you have found some percentage or rise that sounds too good to be true, check it again. Metrics can help you prove ROI and campaign success, but big mistakes will make others less likely to accept your figures in the future.

Data is a pivotal part of the digital marketers arsenal but with so much data flying around, all the numbers can be a bit overwhelming.  When data is used effectively, it can really help you to prove the ROI of social activity. By keeping these tips in mind, marketers and communicators in all industries can not only get over their fear of data but also really begin to use it to their advantage. And as with pretty much everything worth doing, practice makes perfect!

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