Social analytics can be a tricky business. Making meaningful business decisions based on these metrics can be hard. So lots of companies hire a social analyst, even a team of analysts, to help them turn data into insights.
But many companies can’t afford and don’t really even need to hire an analyst. Small and medium businesses rarely have the budget for a dedicated analyst on their marketing team. And even if they did, an analyst probably isn’t necessary for most marketing teams. So if your company doesn’t need a social analyst, what do you need? You need simple but comprehensive analytics that give you straight answers – and don’t require an interpreter.
Find the analytics product that can do it for you
The first step is to find the analytics product that is the right fit for your company. Nothing will be perfect, but there are so many offerings on the market you can find something that fits your budget, team size and most urgent needs. (We’re biased but we love our Social Suite.)
Once you identify some candidates, do your research and be sure you know where the data comes from. If their site doesn’t make it clear, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions or move on to the next candidate. We have a more in-depth post about understanding social analytics data sources (plus where our data comes from!) here. You want to be sure that what you choose not only fits your needs but that it’s built on sound engineering and won’t disappear overnight and take all of your data with it.
You’ll want to find something everyone can have access to- or a way to gain access to what each department needs- for easy dissemination of metrics across roles and departments. This is crucial if you’re working to make more decisions across the board based on metrics.
Decide how will it work for you
Once you’ve chosen your analytics provider- if not before to help inform the process- you need to decide what your goals are and how you’ll measure them. Decide how often to check in on your metrics and tie them back to your goals and how often you’ll recalibrate your strategy based on what you find.
At the very least you should evaluate and plan quarterly.
Then take it further
Decide where metrics can help your company that you haven’t been incorporating them in the past and figure out how you’re going to incorporate them going forward, using all of the steps mentioned in the previous section. Can tracking brand awareness across social help you decide how to frame your next campaign that will have real world and social components?
Related to that, do any of your competitors talk about how they use metrics? Check out their blog for any posts they have discussing their process. What can you learn from their transparency? How can you incorporate it into your new plan? Smart research like this can save you time and a learning curve when it comes to your own brand.
Just remember: Don’t be a perfectionist
Incorporating metrics into more of your company processes and being sure everyone has access in order to do that will mean a new layer of transparency everyone might not be comfortable with. Be sure you make it clear that you’re all in it together and approach it with a spirit of experimentation. Failure means that you’re learning, and learning means you’re getting better, but only if you incorporate what you’re learning as you keep moving forward.
Have a system for everyone to make suggestions for changes in their own workflow or on projects, with the caveat that metrics-driven suggestions will be those taken more seriously. Finally, don’t expect everything to be golden overnight. This kind of shift takes time. Just be sure to nurture it along.