A couple of months ago, I posted a list of the top social media analytics tools. Since then, a number of you commented, added new ones, and voted up existing social analytics tools, so I thought it was time for a recap.
Here’s the existing list of the best social media analytics tools:
If you’re interested in other lists of the top social media analytics tools, here are a few options:
Of course, none of these work very well if you don’t set them up right.
Getting the most from your social media analytics tools
Setting up social media analytics tools
For instance, Google Analytics really works best if you integrate it with Google Webmaster Tools and enable demographic and interest tracking (which requires an update to the tracking code on your website). Setting up the conversion funnel tracking is also necessary if you really want to understand conversion on your site — which social networks or other links send more visitors who convert, where visitors drop out of the conversion funnel, which types of visitors generate the most revenue, etc. For instance, I recently signed a new client who had been running Facebook ads. He was getting a lot of engagement from certain countries and demographic groups. After I added tracking to his website, however, we discovered an entirely different group was important because they converted in higher numbers and converted across several different offers. We’ve now totally changed the Facebook advertising strategy and visits to the website (and conversions) are doubling EVERY day!
Training social analytics tools
Not every social analytics tool performs well right out of the box. Sentiment analysis tools, like Trackur, need some training. As you spend time correcting the incorrect categorizations, the tools become better at determining sentiment about your brands.
Monitoring the RIGHT metrics
Not every data point on your social analytics reports is important — and not everyone is equally important. Vanity metrics, Likes, Followers, etc, don’t mean much. Vanity metrics more likely represent your POTENTIAL rather than actual performance. Activating that potential is the key, so focus on metrics indicating you’re achieving your potential — shares, comments, clicks, sign-ups, etc.
But, don’t forget metrics that contribute to your marketing funnel by focusing on only those elements comprising your funnel — things like sentiment, awareness, likability, authority, … all contribute to getting people into your funnel and successfully moving them through the funnel. In fact, if you build a good foundation — a smooth process through the funnel — you can actually focus primarily on these other metrics.
Monitor patterns more than absolute numbers
One of the things I’ve discovered by working closely with clients and monitoring their metrics is that I don’t have a lot of faith in the absolute numbers I find through different social media analytics tools. For instance, running an Adwords campaign for a client, I discovered he was being charged for more clicks than were showing up on his website analytics report. I never got a satisfactory answer from Google on this one. Hence, I don’t have a lot of faith in the numbers I’ve given.
Now, that makes monitoring social analytics seem like an oxymoron — that you’re not really getting clean analytics. And, that might be true. But, do you REALLY need to know the absolute number for any metric? My guess is NO. What you need to monitor are RELATIVE metrics — for instance, when I post an image on Facebook do I get a better or worse response than not including an image? Or does headline A draw more visits than headline B? In each case, we’re relatively uninterested (from a strategic standpoint) in the number we get, but the insight tells us one strategic option is better than another.
So, stop obsessing over whether you got 5320 visits (as shown in Google Analytics) or 5842 (as shown in Adwords). Instead, monitor performance over time — the performance trend. Focus on metrics that don’t FIT the pattern by either being higher or lower than the trend line. Non-fitting elements deserve our attention, not the absolute number.
Incorrect numbers are an even bigger problem in sentiment analysis. So, don’t jump off a bridge just because your number isn’t as high as you might think it should be. Simply monitor sentiment for changes that might signal trouble.
Make DECISIONS based on your social media analytics
The key to using social media analytics tools is making DECISIONS based on your findings. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to have these metrics and not base decisions on your findings, but I see it happen WAY too often.
For instance, if you look at my most popular posts from a couple of weeks ago, you’ll find a few posts drive much of my traffic. Why?
Is it the time they were shared on social networks?
Is it the topic?
Is it the headline?
Is it the length of the post
Is it the image in the post?
Ask yourself which factors might account for the relative success of particular posts on your site. Now, TEST to see which factors had the most impact on the success. You can test success factors by seeing if several popular posts share a particular characteristic. If you’re still unclear, run some tests by producing multiple copies of the same post with subtle variations in these factors. Now, you have a clear idea of what works best with your target audience.
Now, rinse and repeat.
Just don’t be TOO literal. For instance, my most popular post deals with perceptual maps. Frankly, there just isn’t enough to say about perceptual mapping to create a bunch of posts on this topic. By testing, I discovered the appeal was because I was sharing basic marketing concepts and relating them to social media. Now, I have a recurring column called, Back to Marketing Basics that’s very popular — as you can see from some of my other popular posts.
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