One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in terms of social media involves assuming that the only things you should be paying attention to are follower counts, likes and retweets. Yes, you obviously want to grow the largest audience possible and seeing how many people are following a particular account plays a big role in that. But at the same time, this is just one small part of a much larger story regarding not only how people are engaging with your brand online, but where and why.
This, in essence, is why social media analytics are of paramount importance to the modern marketer. Your social media accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter are generating an enormous amount of data on a daily basis. Only by using the right analytical tools will you be able to dive beneath that data, finally uncovering the true story that it is trying to tell you in a way that leads to accurate and more informed decision making moving forward.
The Power of Social Media Analytics: Breaking Things Down
In a larger sense, the main reason why social media analytics are so important is because they help you understand your target audience in an intimate, emotional way.
Keep in mind that what you say isn’t the only ingredient for social media success. How you say it is also hugely critical, and social media analytics can be enormously helpful to that end. You could use analytical software to analyze all of your past posts, for example, to see which ones were the most successful at which times. You may not have realized that your posts made between 12:00 PM and 3:45 PM on weekdays tended to be more successful on average, but it’s true – and this is the type of trend that the right analytical platform can clue you into that would have otherwise gone undiscovered.
Likewise, everyone knows that social media influencers are powerful brand opportunities these days, but not all influencers are created equally. Analytical tools can help show you exactly which posts by which influencers your audience responded favorably to, thus allowing you to see which of your current activities are working and (more importantly) which ones aren’t. Not only will this show you your exact return on investment for these invaluable relationships that you’re trying to forge, but it will also show you where NOT to focus your attention, too.
Another one of the major reasons why social media analytics are so important is because they can’t help but reveal what your best social networks really are. It would be a mistake to assume that just because Facebook has billions of active users means that this is where the majority of your efforts need to go. Maybe your target audience doesn’t fall into one of the demographics that actively uses Facebook these days. Maybe you were taking the content you’re posting there for granted, thus leaving a lot of potential money on the table.
Likewise, there could even be smaller networks – like Pinterest or Snapchat – that would be better suited to your particular strategy.
Figuring out what social network works best for your strategy is something that requires a fair amount of experimentation, and the only way you’re going to be able to make sense of it all is if you have an analytical tool by your side that lets you go over everything with a fine-toothed comb.
You could even take the average engagement rates of each post on each network and put them into a flow chart creator like Visme (which I founded) to visualize the way your content makes its way across the world. By visualizing that data in a way that makes it easy for anyone to understand, you’ll be able to see the journey your collateral is taking from the moment its published until it finds the audience you were looking for.
But more importantly, you’ll also be able to use that data to prioritize the amount of time you spend managing each social network you’re an active member of. Maybe you don’t want to give up on Instagram altogether, and that’s okay – but if the data says it’s trailing Facebook and Twitter in terms of likes and shares, obviously you’re going to want to focus more of your attention on those networks while de-emphasizing the amount of time you’re spending on Instagram.
Possibly the biggest reason why social media analytics matter so much to your campaign is because the types of insights you’ll reveal will absolutely help you create better content in the future. If you know exactly what videos, images, links or long-form text posts performed the best on Facebook and Twitter, you suddenly know exactly what type of content your audience wants to see more of. Then, you can head to a site like Respona to research additional topics that you can chime in on to add something of real value to your customer’s lives. Respona can also help you connect with relevant bloggers and other influencers in your industry to promote your brand – something that will be easier if you have huge volumes of data to turn to that show exactly the types of influencers your audience members are already paying attention to, by the way.
With rare exceptions, you’ll never create the best possible marketing strategy on the first attempt – something that is especially true given the fast-paced nature of most social networks. You’re bound to make mistakes and at some point you’re going to be operating on assumptions that don’t quite bear fruit.
But by leveraging a good social media analytics tool to your advantage, you’ll be able to dramatically reduce the number of mistakes that you make and the overall time it takes to get to that perfect strategy that is a great match for your target audience. In the end, that may very well be the most important benefit of all.
In the end, it’s important to acknowledge that the commercial side of social media has evolved exponentially over the last few years. In the early days of Facebook and Twitter, it’s absolutely true that nobody was really sure what “worked” and, more importantly, why. There was a lot of guessing going on while people were figuring things out, leading to the development of a very “shoot from the hip” mentality.
Thankfully, those days are over. We have the analytical tools that you need to better understand the relationship between your brand and your target audience, and how those two things are connected to one another via social media. It would be an absolute mistake not to take full advantage of this – and in truth, it’s likely a mistake that you cannot afford to make.