Unlocking the Power of Enterprise Social Media Analytics

How to understand social performance holistically—and as fast as you need to.

Social media analytics is the key to unlocking the full potential of social and demonstrating the impact it makes for your brand. As social has evolved, expectations for demonstrating ROI have evolved with it, placing a premium on the ability to gather, parse and derive meaning from the social activities your brand invests in. This is particularly true for enterprise companies, where the number of channels, distinct marketing initiatives and inbound comments—coupled with the volume of internal stakeholders—makes reporting a complex challenge.

At Spredfast, we have invested serious time and effort in puzzling over the challenges of enterprise social media analytics—and developing solutions for them. We partner with our customers to understand their needs and use that feedback to develop best-in-class enterprise solutions. When working with new customers, one of the most common questions we hear is: “Why don’t the values in [my enterprise social analytics platform] match the data I am seeing in the native social channel?”

We want to share the advice we’ve given digital leaders at our customer accounts because the tips make sense no matter which vendor you’re using to help you achieve your goals around social media marketing and social media care. Below, we've outlined some best practices for how to think about the values provided by an enterprise analytics solution and how to maximize your investment.

Two important questions to ask when validating your analytics

When comparing values from your analytics platform to those provided by the native social channels there are a few questions you should always ask yourself:

Am I comparing apples-to-apples? When comparing values from your platform to native social networks, it’s imperative that you compare the same metrics. The naming conventions vary by platform, so even if the metrics have the same name, it’s critical to verify that the values being compared are measured/calculated in the same way. For a calculated metric, are all components in the calculation the same? Is the value provided by the social network for the full lifetime of the post or only within the specific time period selected? These are all important considerations to ensure you are making the right comparisons.

When comparing values from your platform to native social networks, it’s imperative that you compare the same metrics.

 

Have I checked the timing of my metrics?: Social networks often display real-time metrics in their dashboards but do not provide real-time feeds to partners via their APIs. Once the values are made available by the network, that must be gathered from the API, indexed and organized within the platform.

Check the timestamps in your analytics platform. When was the data last updated? If it’s imperative that the values in your analytics platform match the native platform, build in sufficient buffer time in your reporting cadence to ensure all values are updated.

When choosing a partner for enterprise social media analytics, make sure your partner understands the importance of data accuracy. You want a social media management system that has compared all of its metrics to those of the social networks, ensuring parity through careful review. Ideally, you also want a partner whose selected naming conventions for the metrics they provide line up with the naming conventions of the top social networks. And finally? You want a partner who has developed extensive documentation for each metric to provide a clear picture of what is being measured. You should feel empowered to ask for all of this from your enterprise analytics solution because you, as a marketer, must be confident in it in order to truly leverage its power.

After you feel confident in your analytics: how to maximize their impact

Marketers need to demonstrate the impact they’re making across channels (all channels, not just social) and make data-driven decisions. You don’t need more data, you need the right data to inform critical decisions. Therein lies the value of an enterprise analytics solution and the key in thinking about how to extract maximum value from your investment.

You don’t need more data, you need the right data to inform critical decisions.

 

Prior to joining Spredfast, I was on the marketing team for one of “The Big Four” professional consulting firms. In this role, I was tasked with tracking content performance, measuring impact and using social data to inform content strategy for 25+ business units and dozens of social accounts. Gathering data from individual social accounts was, put simply, time-prohibitive. Even if I could gather the data directly from the networks, the information was unstructured. Drilling into the data to understand which channels, campaigns, content types, and topics drove performance was another layer of complexity (and time sink) before I could begin thinking about using the data to develop recommendations.

That’s why Spredfast was an invaluable resource for generating scalable reporting and insights. Because data is quantitative, that means there is, theoretically, somewhere—all the time—an actual right answer. And it can be tempting to chase that number for days or weeks. But as an experienced analytics professional, I was fully aware that social at an enterprise moves faster than that, which is where an analytics platform comes in: without context, data is just a ton of numbers. And without the configurability and scale to access the whole picture of your brand's social efforts, you'll find yourself drowning in data.

Without context, data is just a ton of numbers.

 

Measuring the business impact of social is one of the biggest challenges for marketers. The speed and complexity with which social is executed only serve to magnify the challenge. Once you’ve assessed your reporting needs, the key is finding a solution that is not only reliable but also provides the configurability, rigor, and scale needed to meet the needs of all stakeholders.

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Brandon leads the Analytics Team for the Spredfast Strategy Group. He draws upon 13+ years of brand and agency experience, partnering directly with customers to solve their measurement and research challenges.