The Ultimate Social Media Data Analytics Guide

Social media is an extremely powerful tool for reaching your audience. Research shows that more than 70% of people in the United States have social media accounts.  Being on social media is just one step in the process. Conducting in-depth analysis is key for understanding what social media strategies work best for you and which don’t. Here’s how you can use social media data analytics to help run efficient and effective social media campaigns.

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What is Social Media Data Analytics?

Social media data analytics includes gathering data from the accounts you use across various social media channels, grouping and sorting it, and analyzing it to improve your strategy.

Social media data analytics involves more than just tracking your number of followers, likes, shares/retweets, impressions and clicks. Social media data analytics is much more in-depth and can involve specialized software to help you analyze how you’re performing as well as discover new opportunities to better connect with your audience.

Knowing how many likes a particular post received is great, but that only tells a fraction of the story. Without understanding why a post performed well (or poorly) and with whom it performed well (or poorly), you’ll have a difficult time culling any meaningful information from that data. By analyzing your data more thoroughly, you can make future decisions to refine your campaigns and make them as effective as possible.

Going Beyond the Basics

Social media is great, because it provides you with so much information at your fingertips. But, if you aren’t using the correct data—or if you are only using a small slice of it—you won’t be harnessing its true power.

A full-fledged social media data analytics initiative will integrate social listening, which is the process of monitoring various social media channels for opportunities and problems. Much like data analytics on search engines, the social media data analytics program queries keywords and phrases that relate to your business, brand, political campaign, or other topics.

Social media here also refers to more than just the mainstream platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It also includes integrating data from forums such as Reddit or review sites such as Yelp. This gives you a truly well-rounded picture of the digital conversations that your organization or campaign is having and creating—and those that your audience are having in response.

How Does Social Media Analytics Work?

Political campaigns, businesses and brands have always desired information on particular audiences they’re looking to attract. In the past, the way this information was obtained would be to hire a company who would conduct market research. Those companies would hold focus groups and conduct polls to get the information that would inform their future decisions.

While those strategies are still around today, social media provides a new opportunity for many organizations—as people post a lot of information willingly on social media accounts. The challenge, though, is that this valuable information isn’t readily available in list form.

When you dive into your Facebook analytics, for instance, you can see the number of people who liked a particular post. You can even click through to see the particular people who liked that post. When you get to those people’s pages, they may list their demographic information and some of their interests in their profile section.

Some valuable user information, though, is buried deep in their history of posts, published as natural language, free text and images. This makes it next to impossible to gather all this information easily and in a readable format. Social media analytics programs extract all this information in an easily-readable layout, providing you with a wealth of information upon which you can act.

What Are the Benefits of Social Media Data Analytics?

There are a number of benefits that social media data analytics can provide. Here are just a few:

Understand Your Particular Audience

Every audience on social media is different. Understanding your audience is essential if you want to effect change through your paid or organic social media campaigns.

It’s not just about understanding where your active followers are located or what are their main interests. It’s also about understanding what makes them tick, how you can play to their emotions, and what days and times they’re most likely to see your posts and interact. What will spark them to respond or engage.

Improve Your Content

Simply posting text, images and video to your social media channels isn’t enough to effectively drive action—unless you know exactly what works and what doesn’t. A challenge of social media is that what works on one platform doesn’t necessarily work on another.

Images you post on Twitter may not perform as well as they do on Instagram, and vice versa. Social media data analytics can help you understand each of your social media channels separately, so that you can tailor the content you’re posting individually for the best results.

Understand the Competition

Whether you run a business, a political campaign or some other entity, you know the importance of understanding what the competition is doing and how well their message is being received. The great part about social media is that your competitors will be generating a ton of data through their posts. This is data you are able to capture and analyze in addition to the data you generate.

Used in combination, this data will let you see what’s working and what’s not for your competitors. You can see what they did in the past and any changes they made to effect any change. Analyzing competitor data can help you avoid the mistakes they have made andimitate their successes, allowing you to improve the effectiveness of your own campaigns.

Create an Effective Strategy

Social media data analytics will help you create an effective strategy for how you will approach social media channels. Creating an effective strategy for social media is just as important as it is for budgeting or planning other aspects of your organization. Without a strategy in place, you won’t have a roadmap for what you want to accomplish and how you plan on accomplishing it.

The great part about social media data analytics is that the opportunities are virtually limitless. You can continuously monitor data to track how well the changes you’ve implemented are being received. Social listening allows you to see in real-time what people are saying about you online and how they are reacting.

With this information in hand, you can make adjustments—either minor or major—on the fly so you’re always speaking directly to your audience in a way that resonates.

How Can You Use Social Media Data Analytics?

Now that you understand what social media data analytics is and its benefits, here are some of the best ways to get started:

Identify Your KPIs & Track Them

Social media data analytics will be providing you with a wealth of information, but it can be challenging to utilize it if you don’t what you’re looking for. Therefore it’s important to create social media key performance indicators (KPIs) and track them going forward.

The analysis will allow you to gather the information that’s specifically relevant to those KPIs, so you can see what you need to do to effect change. Then, you can continuously monitor your performance based around the KPIs.

Target & Personalize Your Content

Armed with a wealth of information, you’ll be able to target and personalize your content to best meet the needs of a particular social media platform, time of day, audience, or type of post.

Everything you do on social media should tie back into your KPIs. Create content that’s tailored specifically to the audience you’re trying to attract. Then, distribute that content in specific ways so it resonates the best on each social media platform.

Improve Your Brand

Social media data analytics can be used to constantly monitor public sentiment about your campaign or organization. This allows you to tweak the content you’re publishing based on real-time feedback you’re obtaining. It also allows you to see negative responses you’re getting online so that you can make changes to your approach that you may not have realized otherwise. Use your data to determine how to put your best face forward as an organization.

Improve Operations

A lot of talk about social media pertains to marketing, advertising and branding. But, since you’ll be gaining feedback about all aspects of your entity, you’ll be able to glean insights into your own operations as well.

Social media data analytics can help you gauge demand for your product, service and/or message. With this information in hand, you can adjust your operations so you’re constantly serving your audience what they want, when they want it.

As we mentioned before, this allows you to shift gears if the data shows you aren’t capitalizing on a potential big opportunity. Maybe your audience desires a new product or service you don’t currently offer or has a need you can fulfill in new ways. Social media data analytics can uncover this powerful information so you can take action to capitalize on it.

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