Did you know that on Facebook over 1 million links are shared, 2 million friend requests are accepted and almost 3 million messages are sent every 20 minutes? That is over 20 million actions and pieces of content posted on the social platform every hour. Add in Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs, forums, and niche communities, and you end up with a lot of data on your hands. There is no doubt that the incredible amount of social data presents unprecedented opportunities for marketers - but getting to the insights is no small challenge. Where do you start? How do you segment, filter and analyze the data to derive meaningful consumer insights?
We recently sat down with Nathan Gilliatt, one of the top experts in the social analytics field. Nathan is the principal at Social Target, a global social media intelligence company, co-founder of AnalyticsCamp, and conference chair at Social Media Analytics Summit. Nathan is a strong believer that social media analytics can enhance customer service, improve brand and reputation management, and measure overall social media success for businesses. The trick, he says, is to know the questions you are trying to answer first and then build your analytics approach around them. Then, it is about segmenting the mountains of data into manageable pieces.
Nathan suggests three focus areas to guide the social media analytics journey, namely content analysis, activity evaluation and people measurement:
- Content Analysis: Nathan suggestslistening, monitoring, and analyzing conversations for consumer insights - by eliciting meaning, focusing content creation efforts, and identifying the triggers that drive both positive and negative sentiment. Content analysis helps marketers identify the range of topics people associate with your brand. This insight, in turn, should inform content creation and promotional efforts that resonate with your audience.
- How do you know if you are on the right path with content? Analyze how your brand followers are echoing your message - by measuring and analyzing shares, retweets, and comments. Bucket positive and negative comments separately and segment them by topics, trends, topic source and topic influence.
- Activity Evaluation: Nathan recommends capturing the full breadth of social actions related to your brand to understand what drives people to take an action, such as a purchase. Avoid ego metrics (such as the number of followers you get on Twitter or fans on Facebook). It feels great to have your blogpost tweeted 300 times, but did this activity generate sales? To understand the true value of social activity, Nathan says, integrate with traditional web analytics.
- People Measurement: You can't simply measure influence - you need to model it and experiment with it. Influence is a means to an end, and it is highly topical. Klout scores can be useful if marketers use them to inform their segmentation strategies and test response rates. Influence scores should be viewed as but one factor in mapping out a brand's social network and understanding the depth and breath of the connections in it.
For more insights on social media analytics from Nathan, check him out on Twitter, SlideShare and sign up for his blog. You can also download our complimentary paper Actionable Social Analytics: From Social Media Metrics to Business Insights. Don't forget to weigh in - how do you practice social media analytics? Sharing your thoughts with our community on Twitter by tweeting to #AwarenessTips.