Published on October 21, 2014 by Ashish Juneja
To be in the game and dominate it, it has become imperative for organisations to harness and analyse the colossal amount of data that is being generated every day by social media sites
Among the tons of daily social media interactions are bits and pieces of information that could be truly valuable for companies. Customer interactions (feedback, grievances, opinions, etc.), product reviews, news and market trends are all examples of social media data that companies should not turn a blind eye to. On sites like Twitter and Facebook, the high level of engagement between the companies and their customers, both current and prospective, is bringing in a flood of such information.
Given the growing pressure to scrape out insights from social media, the demand for analytics expertise is now on the rise. Companies are looking at tools that will help them translate all this information into actionable strategies. These tools reveal underlying customer sentiments, identify patterns and trends and allow companies to use these insights to make more informed business decisions.
But do all companies need to invest in social media analytics right now? Some companies can hold off for now, but for others that rely on word-of-mouth advertising or referrals, this investment is vital. For companies like these, social media analytics help gauge the common opinion about their brand, which in turn affects their business, and also ensures timely actions are taken to build a positive brand image.
In the past half-decade, social media tracking and analysis for a majority of people meant presenting mere numbers and figures; these include the number of times a keyword occurs, the number of followers, likes, tweets and traffic. However, today, all this has changed. These tools come with a comprehensive mechanism that lets you “snoop” into the conversation about your brand. When using these tools, you specify a set of keywords that define or are associated with your brand. The tools then do the rest of the work, which includes crawling the social media portals/forums and finding all possible mentions of the specified keywords, following which the findings are presented to you in a neatly formatted report with all the relevant references and comments.
Some of the social media analytics tools are:
Omniture– Integration with Twitter
WebTrends– Powered by Radian6
Most of these tools generate some key information related to:
Brand Mentions: Conversations about your brand/competitors/industry (as specified by keywords). You get a view of total mentions by day/week/month.
Brand Sentiment: What is the consumer sentiment towards your brand? Are they positive, negative or neutral on your brand?
Influencers: Who is talking about you? How influential are they and how many times have they talked about your brand?
For all the potential value gained from social media analytics, it’s just one spoke in the business intelligence and analytics wheel and the technology has yet to fully mature. Businesses need to be careful in understanding the limitations and risks that come with investing in social media analytics and its tools, together with the danger of sinking in an ocean of data.
Analysing social media data remains an inexact science, according to industry analysts and consultants. They affirm that while social media analytics software can provide valuable information to companies, the results of queries can be skewed because the technology has trouble picking up on tone, slang and nuances, such as sarcasm, when trying to interpret text data. At this point, several analysts say that the most common use for social media analytics tools is to help obviate a crisis. The technology can serve to identify the problem areas in the customer life cycle, such as negative remarks on customer services or complaints about the product functionality – all of which can flag areas of concerns to the companies.
A plethora of social media monitoring and analytics tools is making it easy for companies to quickly get up and running with platforms for analysing social media data. But as with other analytics initiatives, doing so without a big-picture plan that is directly connected to an organisation’s core business goals will severely limit the technology’s usefulness.
For companies to stack up well against competition and gain deeper insights on published content, the solution rests in leveraging the power of social media analytics to better pinpoint campaigns to specific segments, drive consumer support for its products and ultimately increase revenues.
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About the Author
Deputy Senior Associate, Acuity Knowledge Partners
Ashish works with the CRM and Marketing Analytics team and is engaged in articulating specific client needs, framing the approach and managing the final analytics deliverables through tools such as SPSS, SAS, WebTrends, Test and Target. He has over three years of experience in Marketing and Web Analytics with a focus on building digital engagements and helping protect clients’ online footprints. Prior to Acuity Knowledge Partners, he was working with a global strategic and management consulting group, delivering analytical insights for the client’s products.
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