Before you think about social media analytics tools, stop and think for a moment about your favorite social media sites. Just focus on the major ones for now: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Think about the ones you use most.
Which ones do you use at different times of the day? Do you connect throughout the day during the workweek, or are you a nights and weekends social hound?
How about your activity levels on one versus the other? Are you a daily visitor, or do you just check in once in a while?
Are there some that you use for different reasons? For example, do you use Facebook for updates on friends and family, but rely on Twitter to keep you “in the know” on current events?
In what ways do you interact? Do you scroll through your feeds and toss an occasional Like on a pretty picture or two? Do you comment often and engage in conversations with other followers? Or, do you just watch what others are doing?
Are there certain things that really seem to catch your attention, or do you find that your preferences seem to change from day to day and season to season?
Are there certain social media sites that you really dislike? If so, what is it about them that you don’t care for? Have disliked them from the start, or did your preferences change over time?
Do you focus on the same social media sites for your business as you do for personal use? If yes, then, why? Because you like them better? Because they’re more familiar to you?
Now, while your head is spinning a bit thinking about everything we just ran through above, here’s a thought that’ll [hopefully] throw you in a completely different direction:
You are not your customer.
There are reasons beyond what anyone can “put in a nutshell” for our individual preferences. With that in mind, friends, we cannot afford to assume that we have all the answers to what our customers prefer.
While that seems fairly obvious, we often forget to disengage our personal preferences when it comes to making decisions that impact our customers and the people we want to attract as our future customers.
What in the world does all this have to do with social media analytics?
So glad you asked!
Social media analytics is like a toolbox – or a set of toolboxes – filled with all kinds of tools that will help you build the social media communities you want based on what you already know. Those same tools can also help you build the communities you need based on what you don’t yet know!
In earlier articles, we’ve talked about getting to know our customers better by defining buyer personas. And, we’ve talked about how to better understand what our customers want from our businesses through buyer segmentation. To bring it all home, analytics can help with both of those elements and more.
The only way to decide what works best for your business or brand is to try different things.
Sorry, there’s no magic ticket that tells you everything you want to know about your customers, but here’s a rundown on some of the basic resources to start with:
Page admins can access Facebook Insights to see how different page posts rank, how many fans they currently have, and what the page’s general reach is. Admins can also set notifications to determine when their page is getting the most interaction.
Twitter Analytics can be a bit of an eye opener in that it’ll provide a month’s worth of data all within an infographic-like format. In it, you can see how your tweets have performed: How many favorites and retweets they’ve received, how many impressions and mentions they’ve had, and how many times followers have clicked on them. You can even generate reports with Twitter Analytics to better hone the information you collect.
Aaah, Pinterest. The quiet little social media site that started as a virtual scrapbook has become quite the powerhouse of social influence. If a brand or business can tell a story within a photo, Pinterest is a must have.
If you want to find out about the people following your Pinterest boards and see what kind of engagement is happening with particular pins, Pinterest Analytics is where you want to be.
To gain a broader understanding of what’s happening in your web and social circles, you can also enlist third party tools such as Google Analytics and Buffer. Both have free and paid options to get you what you need.
With Google Analytics, for example, you can create reports that will help you understand which social sites your website visitors are coming from and what they do once they land on your website. With Buffer, you can actually create and schedule posts, and analyze post engagement.
Tools are great. But please don’t get caught up in analyzing everything with tools and stats.
Think about it like this: If you move into a new neighborhood and do nothing to get to know your neighbors but watch them through your windows, you’re probably only going to get half the story about them – if that. If, however, you get out there and shake their hands, talk to them, meet their spouses, and hear what they have to say, you’re going to get a lot more out of your neighborhood experience.
Make sure not to lose focus on the fact that social media is called social for a reason! You need to be there, too. Building and maintaining social media communities takes effort. Only when you interact with and listen to your followers will you truly understand what value analytics provides.
So… What works?
First, choose the social sites that fit your business goals, and use best practices within those sites consistently. Then, watch what happens – both personally and analytically – with your followers. You know all those questions we asked you up above? Those are the questions you’re going to want to be able to answer about your followers and customers.
- Keep track of the indices that matter specifically to your business – don’t try to track every single statistic possible.
- Follow trends – your trends – not those of another business.
- Take educated risks with new campaigns, and always communicate with your followers – not to them.
- Above all, have fun with social media – It’ll make a big difference in the experience that your customers will have with your brand.
If you’d like to meet more of your “neighbors,” Filament can help you make great introductions!