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Social Media Analytics is a term often heard – and often misunderstood. Let’s break down just what this crucial business tool is, and why you need to use it.

It should, perhaps, seem obvious. Social media offers a huge pool of consumers ripe for brand communication. But that attitude is dangerous in its brand-centric focus.

Social media isn’t about brands. It’s about people sharing their lives with others they know – or get to know – based on common interests.

Still, social is a wonderful place for consumers and brands to connect, as long as they remember one thing: social media may provide your brand’s first and last impression, so both need to be good ones.

This is where social media analytics comes into play.

complete guide to sma

What Is Social Media Analytics?

Techopedia defines social media analytics thusly:

“Social media analytics (SMA) refers to the approach of collecting data from social media sites and blogs and evaluating that data to make business decisions. This process goes beyond the usual monitoring or a basic analysis of retweets or ‘likes’ to develop an in-depth idea of the social consumer.”

This is a pretty apt description, though we’d like to clarify that “social media sites” encompasses not just Facebook, Twitter, and the like, but forums and review sites as well as blogs and news outlets. Really, it’s anywhere that consumers can share their beliefs, opinions and feelings online.

Just as buzzwords lose meaning over time, many brands lose sight of the value of social media analytics because at first glance social data comes with a lot of noise. Nobody has time to sort through results that include spam, bots, and trolls to get to the good stuff.

Additionally, brands often make the mistake of running a social media analysis on a topic once and then call it good. Online is always in a state of flux, so there is an ongoing relationship with the data in social media analytics to account for fluctuations inherent in the medium.

The ability to cut through the online noise in pursuit of actionable market, competitive and consumer intelligence, coupled with consistent monitoring to track conversational fluctuations over time is the mark of effective social media analytics.

Quite simply, when you have state of the art tools, social media analytics becomes a treasure trove of consumer insights you can’t find anywhere else. Without them however, social media presents a guessing game in an ever-changing slog of information without cohesive insight.

Building on this, we’d extend the definition above to say social media analytics is a collection of data unearthed via multiple techniques from multiple sources versus a single tool in and of itself.

To clarify, let’s run through some terms often confused with social media analytics.

So-Called Synonyms That Aren’t

If social media analytics is a destination, what tools contribute to the journey? And what are their distinctions.

Social Media Intelligence is the closest term-cousin to social media analytics. Social intelligence represents the stack of technology solutions and methods used to monitor social media, including social conversations and emerging trends.

This intelligence is then analyzed and used to create meaningful content and make business decisions across many disciplines.

Social Media Listening is one of the terms most often confused with social media analytics. But social listening applies to one specific aspect of social media analytics: Learning about your audience.

The goal here is to uncover what they love, hate, and love to hate – as opposed to any assumptions you may have. It’s about getting to know them as people, not just prospects.

For instance, if you want to know what people in Boston have to say about pizza, you can find out using a tool like NetBase Pro. From there, you can look for additional common ground to create audience segments to make your interactions more personal.

audience-segment-attributes

Social Media Monitoring is the second term most often confused for social media analytics. It’s also thought to be synonymous with social listening, but the two are very different.

Social monitoring focuses on following social audiences to be alerted to spikes in activity that present either an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss, or a potential disaster you want to avoid. It’s about seeing posts like this in time to respond and avoid a viral crisis:

Air-Canada-tweet-as-part-of-social-media-anlaytics-search 

Social Competitive Analysis is the process of investigating competitors of your brand and their audience. Because social media is such a transparent medium, social media analytics tools can be applied to brands beyond your own.

This gives you the advantage of seeing how they serve their customers, what consumers love or hate about them and what new products or services they’re offering.

This information allows you to see what your shared audience gets excited about, so you can capitalize on fresh ideas you might never have had yourself. Additionally, it can save the day when things go wrong, or save your own budget by learning from competitors’ mistakes.

And as consumer attitudes are never static, brands can also monitor how other brands are handling the social climate to adjust if things are hitting close to home. Earlier this summer Quaker Oats retired its longstanding Aunt Jemima brand out of concern for racial impacts to consumers. Others are paying attention.

Bens-Original-Rice-using-social-media-analytics-for-consumer-concerns

Image Analytics is a new feature made possible by the evolution of social media analytics technology. Image analytics levels up text analysis by identifying scenes, facial expressions, geographical locations, brand logos and more in social images. This is especially useful when a brand is pictured, but not explicitly mentioned in the text.

As social users become increasingly visual, the inability to perform image analytics becomes a deal-breaker when researching social media analytics tools. Basically, if you’re social media analytics tool isn’t picking up images where your brand is pictured, but not explicitly mentioned, then you’re missing out on a lot of the conversation.

And to really make sure you’re not missing a thing, it needs to not only capture full logos, but altered, partial or reversed brand mentions as well – like the reversed and cut-off PetSmart logo below.

image-analytics-as-cruical-element-of-social-media-analytics

Social Media Sentiment Analysis

Social sentiment is the tie-in that applies to all facets of your social media analytics. Without it, you don’t have any way of gauging why you’ve suddenly got 500K more “likes” or shares than usual. What if an uptick in activity isn’t a good thing? The only way to know is through sentiment analysis.

This layer of social media analytics uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand whether social conversations are positive or negative, and to measure the strength of those emotions. This helps you triage responses so you don’t waste energy on posts that don’t matter, while ignoring posts that do.

consumer-emotions

Emotions when talking about dogs on social – the “love” is strong

Customer Experience Analytics combines social listening insights with Voice of the Customer (VoC) verbatims like surveys, reviews, website feedback, chat messages, market research, and data from internal systems like call center, help center, and web support collected via CRM tools.

This additional data can be brought into your social media analytics to give you a comprehensive understanding of your customers across all touchpoints.

And speaking of understanding consumers, Quid Social is the social media analytics tool that excels in helping brands do just that.

complete guide to sma

Quid Social Ups the Ante in Social Media Analytics

Quid Social melds seamlessly with your NetBase social media analysis and spreads it out like a map, offering contextualized social insights at a glance. In other words, it’s your social media topic – visualized.

This symbiotic relationship is great because using disparate data analysis tools or sources is an unnecessary headache that you don’t have to deal in gaining actionable intelligence from your data.

If your tools are clunky, cumbersome or tiring, then chances are you’ll miss something in the gaps between tools, or from sheer frustration. Quid Social solves the problems that users face when stitching their social media analysis together from disconnected sources by offering a one-and-done solution. In other words, it’s a next-level social media analytics tool that synthesizes your data to establish a cohesive and easily understandable window into the online narrative.

In the same manner that Quid Pro allows users to parse company, patent, or news and blogs datasets, Quid Social uses the same interface to deep dive into any social media topic to extract insights from the returned data to inform your brand’s decision makers.

This is accomplished through next generation artificial intelligence (AI) driven social media datasets that provide a 360-degree contextualized view of the social narrative on any topic. And no matter how niche your topic may be, someone is out there talking about it online. Quid Social mines the depths of all social media platforms, consumer reviews, forums and much more – ensuring you capture it all.

And not having to transfer your data from one tool to another saves time and energy, which translates directly to your bottom line. It also offers in depth social coverage that enables Quid users to make smarter, faster data driven decisions for their business, bypassing the bloat of traditional social media analytic tools.

Quid Social allows users to not only analyze social conversations, but discover emerging trends and themes, parse out key opinion leader (KOL) narratives, analyze and monitor competitors and evaluate social media influencer performance – just to name a few. The insights gained in these areas can boost your balance sheet by way of the speed in which brands are able to make strategic business decisions; allowing brands to pivot to avoid pitfalls, spot market white space and stay a step ahead of the competition.

Additionally, Quid Social visualizes the main drivers of social conversations allowing you to see the interconnectivity between adjacent social sub-conversations. This visualization of the online narratives allows users to quickly understand the angle from which target audiences are talking about a topic or issue.

Quid-Social-highlight-mode-for-social-media-analytics

Since one of the underlying principles of social media analysis is to discover and meet consumer need, this ability to see emergent conversations in response to social or market stimuli allows brands to move quickly and grow share of voice before other brands have had a chance to make a move.

And all of this serves the additional bonus of growing positive brand perception within the social media coverage. They say that the early bird gets the worm and that applies here; as first-movers have the opportunity to design, deploy and steer the narrative. At that point, the competition is playing catch-up.

Meeting the needs of consumers quickly translates directly to positive social sentiment built on consumer love. And since people love to share their brand experiences on social media, brands can directly track these changes as they apply to their own social media metrics, and in how they relate to the competition.

Quid Social not only facilitates real-time analyses on any topic, but also the ability to continually monitor brand-relevant conversations; which gives brands further intel into where their messaging needs to be tweaked to have the most positive impact. Having your social media analytics under one roof allows you to quickly evaluate your campaign messaging to see what’s resonating and what’s not. At the speed of social these days, the ability to monitor, adjust and implement your brand messaging on the fly is a game-changer for your social media marketing team.

Additionally, these insights can be used to identify competitive areas of focus for innovation and R&D. They also offer keen intel into how consumers are feeling or reacting to market trends, innovations and competitive products relevant to your industry.

Quid Social also covers the width and depth of any topic with social media coverage that spans over 200 countries, mining major and minor social media input channels for 27 months of history and data going forward. It’s comprehensive social media coverage for historic, and real-time analysis that digs into any online conversation – whenever and wherever you need it to.

Below are a few of the social media insights and analytic functionality found in Quid Social:

  • Powerful network visualizations to discover emerging trends, topics and patterns in data
  • Scatterplot, bar graph, histograph and timeline views
  • Optimized clustering for short text with auto-naming and summaries of clusters
  • Document and aspect level sentiments
  • People, company and location entity feedback
  • Social engagement counts
  • Author and demographic information
  • Extensive filter and tagging capabilities
  • Color-by options for customized data visualization
  • Customizable x/y axis parameters for extensive graphing insights

Simply put, the ways in which your brand can twist, extract and display your social media topics are exhaustive and present a uniquely visual approach to social media analytics.

quid-social-timeline-view-for-social-media-analytics

But mining the social media conversation for market, competitive and consumer intelligence is still only half the battle. What you do with that information takes you the rest of the way.

Approach Is Everything

The best investment you can make is in social media analytics tools that bring all of the above functionality into one place. This gives you a peek behind the curtain – and you’re smart to make it about looking and listening and learning, not pushing your agenda.

Think of it as having a VIP ticket to a show – it doesn’t get you on stage singing with the stars unless you build a relationship with them over time. Once they realize you care enough to come to every show you just might get pulled up to join them.

This is the best way to inspire engagement between your brand and your audience.

Popeye’s offers a great example here. Their marketing has been customer focused all through the pandemic. And it’s posts like these that have endeared consumers to them throughout the crisis.

popeyes-chicken-instagram-post

That’s how you make friends on social media.

Use Cases for Social Media Analytics

Of course, it’s not just about making friends or engaging your audience – though those are important marketing endeavors. There’s a lot of avenues to be explored through the insights that the data provides. It’s like peeling back an orange to discover the segmented fruit within.

In other words, the insights found through social media analytics can power every part of brand operations. Here are some examples:

Increase Customer Acquisition

Your customers are your brand’s lifeblood. Carefully managing their journey from early awareness to established customer through social media analytics is vital for retention, and your brand’s long-term health.

Consistently engaging with your consumers is critical, as is developing a track record of being there for them with fresh innovation when new needs arise.

Case in point, Activision has seen their brand grow by delivering what they know their audience wanted. Their Overwatch League netted more than 10M views in its first week, and more than 200K per session.

Recently, Amtrak saw opportunity during the pandemic to make sweeping changes, delivering tools and experiences to make their customers feel safe as they traveled the rails.

Protect Brand Health

A brand is the collective whole of all the touchpoints and interactions consumers have with a brand, in addition to the messaging coming directly from the company. Ultimately, the consumer holds the keys to brand perception with brands constantly striving to influence positive consumer sentiment. Brand perception affects many things, with the biggest impact being your balance sheet.

Smart brands make moves based on social media analytics to push consumer sentiment into the green and bolstering brand health in the process.

Like when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Chick-fil-A responded immediately by donating $10.8 million to coronavirus relief efforts. And when social unrest broke out earlier this year, they were quick on the ball to reach out on social media to their customers, letting them know they care.

It’s quick and focused action like this that captures consumer love every time.

Lower Customer Care Costs

Customer care takes dedicated attention, and these days customer care is an ‘always on’ situation. Consumers have no hesitation reaching out to brands when issues arise, and they expect answers. Consistent social media analytics helps brands to put the puzzle pieces of consumer need together to inform innovations to address frequent issues in the most cost-effective manner.

The Westin circumvented fitness amenity complaints by answering consumer “wishes.” They provided “well-being” experts to guide their fitness experiences while staying at the hotel, and also signed a deal with Peloton to offer virtual group cycling to their guests.

Maximize Product Launches

Social media analytics helps brands get in on emerging trends by informing them about products and services that consumers want. Additionally, the actionable insights produced help pinpoint market opportunities thereby minimizing risks to ensure your product launch is a success.

For instance, check out how Ugg for Men made the most of their new line by gifting some slippers to the right influencers, reaching more than 3 million consumers.

Boost Campaign Performance

Social media analytics allows brands to most effectively learn what their audience cares about and what influences their purchasing decisions. These insights allow marketing departments to craft more personalized and relevant marketing experiences. The opportunities here for brands are enormous with the additional benefit of real-time feedback allowing for adjustment mid-campaign.

The ways in which brands put their social media analytics intel to work are only limited by creativity. For example, by smartly using influencers, iHeartRadio generated huge engagement for the iHeartRadio Awards and nominated artists.

By creating thoughtful and engaging marketing initiatives, brands can build the emotional customer connections that boost campaign performance – just ask the city of Las Vegas.

Improve Crisis Management

The ways in which social media analytics can guide brands when crisis hits is worth the price of admission alone in the costs saved by speed of reaction. The severity of the crisis and the length of time that it languishes unmitigated, or worse unseen, can bring critical consequences to brands that can last for years. Their sudden nature points to the necessity of social media analytics in helping to round out your crisis management response protocols.

Last year when Zion Williamson blew out one of his Nike’s in the Duke-UNC game on national television, it stood to shake up Nike if they didn’t get ahead of the online narrative fast. Everybody saw it in real-time and they took to social media like wildfire. Luckily, Nike got in front of it quickly, and successfully steered the conversation.

Also, check out how James Madison University uses Social Monitoring to understand public misperception and gauge when, if and how to respond to potential crises – amongst other things.

Invest Wisely and Reap the Returns

Many tools offer some of the features listed above, and if you’re on a budget, starting there is better than ignoring social media analytics altogether. Ultimately though, you want to invest in a suite of tools that does all of the above, with a commitment to innovate when the next technological breakthrough happens. And a history of doing so previously.

The more data you have access to, the better your understanding of your audience, and the better you can serve them as they wish to be served. That’s what brings them back for more. And that’s what social media analytics does for brands.

This has been part 1 of our Social Media Analytics Guide for 2020; designed to keep you in-the-know on the tools, metrics and skills necessary to compete in an increasingly global arena.

Be sure to check out the other parts of this comprehensive series by clicking below:

Ready to see our suite of social media analytics tools in action? Get in touch for a customized demo!

complete guide to sma

NetBase Product Line

Premier social media analytics platform

Tailored platform for growing businesses

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Customer experience analytics platform

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools, APIs and more

Product configurations to meet all needs

Quid Product Line

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

AI algorithms, NLP, data sources, and visualization

Tailored, configurable solutions