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By: Albert Costill

According to an article published through CNBC on January 28, 2014, marketing research firm Demand Metric discovered that roughly two-thirds of organizations—64% of which are claimed as small businesses—are using social media analytics. Even more interesting, the research found that three-fourths of the participants in the study reported that executive decision-making is influenced through intelligence gathered via social media.

While around one-third and one-quarter of small businesses are not taking advantage of this trend, expect that to change in the immediate future. Social media isn’t going away anytime soon. And, now is the time for businesses to learn how to properly engage in social media so that they can discover what customers are saying about their brand and even what competitors are doing.

What Does Social Media Analytics Mean?

Before we go any further, what exactly does social media analytics mean?

Simply put, social media analytics gathers data from blogs and social media platforms and analyzes that data to make future business decisions. The most common use of social media analytics is to better understand customer sentiment in order to improve marketing and customer service activities.

Why Analyze?

It doesn’t matter the size of your business, because when it comes to social media, you have to establish two things: engagement and community. Furthermore, Social Media Analytics can assist you in gaining insight into social media discussions that are directly related to your key focus for analysis. In fact, major companies such as Whirlpool, JetBlue, and the Royal Bank of Canada have used social media analytics in order to engage customers in response to their feedback. Even Apple, has an interest in social media analytics. In December 2013, Apple acquired Topsy Labs, a company that analyzes messages on Twitter.

Simply put, you’re attempting to track, test, and measure the content you’ve been sharing on social media to figure out what’s been working, and what hasn’t, according to your fans and followers.

According to IBM, here are the following types of questions you should be asking:

  • What are consumers saying and hearing about my brand?
  • What are the most talked about product attributes in my product category? Is the feedback good or bad?
  • What is the competition doing to excite the market?
  • Is my employer reputation affecting my ability to recruit top talent?
  • What is the reputation of the new vendors I am considering?
  • What issues are top of mind for my constituency?

What Defines Social Impact?

Google has listed four elements which will define your social impact. These include:

  • Network Referrals: Understanding how visitors from different social sources engage with your site.
  • Conversions: Measuring monetary sales that originally came from social sources.
  • Landing Pages: Knowing which pages and content are being shared, as well as, where they’re being shared, and how.
  • Social Plugins: Allowing your users to share content onto social networks directly from your site.

How to Analyze

While there are an endless amount of service and tools, both free and paid, which can provide statistics regarding social media, for example important web analytics including word counts, reach, word clouds, volume, and sentiment analysis, that information does little to provide valuable consumer-generated feedback.

Here are several steps you can use to identify and analyze consumer-generated feedback.

  • Objectives: What are you using the data for? Examples include: competitive analysis; product extensions; product strengths and weaknesses; new uses of products; and reactions to advertising and promotions.
  • Identify Keywords: Finding specific words that bring people to you is a vital step. Besides broader words that describe your business, also search for combinations, product’s name or even competitors’ brand names.
  • Identify Social Media Data Sources: Not all tools work on all platforms, which is why you need to use the right tools for the right social media platform.
  • Organize Data: Your data will not be limited to just text. Visuals like photos, videos and artwork are also included in your data, which will all have to be organized. No matter if you use software or construct your own, you must compile your data and keep it organized for analyzing.
  • Analyze Data: Review your data thoroughly.  Begin by understanding the data and then identify the themes that you have noticed.

Using Spreadsheets

One of the easiest, and cost effective, ways of analyze your data is by using creating a spreadsheet, usually through Excel or Google Docs.

When constructing your spreadsheet, you typically want to create 14 columns that include the following:

  • Data
  • Network
  • Categories
  • Subcategories
  • Target
  • Calls to action
  • Meta-tags
  • Posts
  • Impressions
  • Comments (replies)
  • Likes (favorites)
  • Shares (retweets)
  • Clicks
  • Total engagement

Fill in the appropriate data you’ve gathered into the correct column. Once you’re entered the data into the spreadsheet, you’ll have to sort and analyze your data. By creating a spreadsheet, you can make decisions on how to alter your content strategy.

Because there are are different spreadsheets that work better with certain social media platforms, Ann Smarty outlined spreadsheet examples that you could use for social media analytics.

  • GetTweets: Allows you to export Twitter search results into a spreadsheet.
  • FacebookLikes: Provides like count, share count, comment count, and overall interaction of your Facebook account.
  • Facebook Fans: This will fetch the number of Facebook fans and displays data via a pie chart.

Tools

Analyzing social media can be overwhelming and time consuming. Thankfully, there are a number of tools that can help you easily collect and understand your data.

Here are five examples:

  • Google Analytics: A comprehensive analytics service that provides you with everything from the number of daily visits to your site, the demographics of your users, how they got to your site, how long visitors stay on your site, and which of your pieces of content are most—and least—popular.
  • Klout: Creates a map that visualizes all of your social media activity from the last 90 days.
  • HootSuite: HootSuite’s free dashboard allows you to manage all of your social media accounts in one location. However, a paid version features an effective analytics tool.
  • Wildfire: You can measure your social media performance, receive alerts on trends, and compare your social media base against competitors.
  • Buffer: This is an app that allows you to manage all of your social media accounts and there’s also an analytics tool.

The Importance of Social Media Monitoring

Social media monitoring can also be called social media listening. This is simply the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product, or brand on the Internet, specifically social media. Why is this important?

Social media monitoring is a great way for you to engage and interact with consumers and potential customers. Through this interaction, you can discover customer behavior. By identifying what supporters, and even critics, say about your social media campaign you can make adjustments and even predict future consumer habits.

There are a wide and varied range of social media monitoring tools available, such as Alerti. This free service allows you to manage and interact with all of your social media accounts from one location. More importantly the service creates alerts sing the keywords of your choice, filters and analyzes information, and measures your social media engagement. Alerti also allows users to collect search results and convert that data into graphs, charts, or tasks so that you can effectively construct a community around your company or brand.

Social Media Analytics Key Terms

Use case: A specific scenario that you want to analyze.

Project: This is where use cases are configured, reviewed, and analyzed.

Source: This is the type of media site that a document originally came.

Snippet: Segment of text which is relevant to your analysis.

Concept: The topic to search for in social media that is relevant for a specific use case.

Type: A group of concepts.

Hotword: Aspect which is relevant across several concepts.

Sentiment term: Word or words that express the tone of a sentiment.

Media set: Group of web addresses that will represent a specific category of a website.

Area of analysis: These are the reports which are organized into three different areas of analysis: Social Media Impact, Segmentation, and Discovery.

Activities

Select three brands on social media and apply analytics. Also, compare and contrast the brands selected with their competitors on social media.

Based on your findings, what worked? What needs altering?

 

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Sources:

http://pic.dhe.ibm.com/infocenter/sma/v1r2m0/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.ibm.swg.ba.cognos.ag_ci.1.2.0.doc%2Fcoverview.html

http://www.quirks.com/articles/2013/20131012.aspx

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1683971?hl=en

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/technology/apple-buys-topsy-a-social-media-analytics-firm.html?_r=0

http://customerthink.com/can_you_hear_me_now_top_five_voice_of_customer_pitfalls/

http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Feature/Text-analytics-finds-dynamic-growth-in-e-discovery-and-customer-feedback-76365.aspx

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