Social Media Analytics will change the way we do business. In fact the whole world of big data and business intelligence has powered the intelligent revolution in how businesses manage everything from their operations to their product development. It hasn’t always been painless, in fact for large swathes of the late 90’s and 2000’s it was probably less favorable that root canal surgery. The projects were big, bulky, expensive, complicated and lacked adoption amongst the rank and file. However, as the solutions have become more sophisticated and moved to a SaaS or agile infrastructure these problems have largely reduced.

However, for Social Media data we are still a little way off the “eureka” moment. It’s still a relatively new field and vendors and users are still coming to terms with what they can build and what businesses actually want. There is knee-jerk reaction to respond with “everything” when asked what you want from your data or insights provider. On the surface this seem reasonable, there are plenty of maxims to back this “knowledge is power” being the one that springs to mind. Yet, when we talk about data less is often more (another maxim, proving the point that there is a maxim for all occasions!). Let me explain, data is only as useful as the questions and structure you can apply to it. Cutting through the noise and finding the real insights and actionable data is hard, time consuming work, and it’s only becomes harder when flooded with often unnecessary options or additional data.

 

Social should be an enabler for the business

Social media data may well be owned by the owned by IT but it should be a business enabler, that means it must serve the purpose and goals of the business. Therefore, the business must set the requirements and agenda. What does the business need to e.g. reach more customers? Create better strategies? Lower their cost to serve or churn? These are the problems that the data must help with, it may be interesting to know that 14% of your fans also like pedigree chum but if you are a financial services provider that’s not much use…unless you want to start a loyalty programme paying out dog food.

 

What the current providers have got wrong

This is where the current suite of social data analytics and marketing providers have got it wrong in our opinion. They have some wonderful platforms, hugely impressive and equally daunting. They would require huge amounts of time and skill to fully utilize their benefits. One such market leader openly admitted their customers, who had huge marketing teams and social media experts probably used less than 30% of the platforms capability and probably didn’t even need or understand that much. Well, “so what?” you might say. Perhaps they will grow into it? The point is that these types of platforms are actually counter productive to the brand or agency using them for the following reasons

 

  1. They confuse instead of explain
  2. They are tremendously expensive
  3. They require time, training and support

 

What businesses want from social media

Instead of the above issues, think what does the normal brand or agency want from their social media solutions. From the people we’ve spoken to it’s based around a simple, cost effective, easy to use solution that can deliver insights and growth in an understandable manner. Some of the more common themes are that businesses want

 

1.To be able to benchmark their performance and compare it to their competitors and sub-brands

2.To be able to quickly see which posts, #’s, channels and trends are the most popular and effective

3.To see the people engaging with their brand, market or ambassadors and rank them by influence so they can focus their efforts

4.Use the insights and data to drive engagements via campaigns and other automated features

 

What the future holds

Ultimately, social media analytics and marketing platforms should make life easier for brands and agencies. They should provide a simple to interpret picture of the market with actionable insights that can drive awareness, engagement and ROI.

 

The question is really do you want to invest in a product that costs £’000s per month, requires a team of people to run, has more options and permutations than a NASA control room and ultimately doesn’t provide you with easy to action insights or makes your job easier to do, then it is failing its purpose.

 

In the same way that CRM and BI evolved and simplified to provide the businesses with what they needed so to will Social Media. It will take time and the mistakes will be costly, but once businesses understand what they want and pick providers who give them this in a simple, powerful and cost effective platform the market will react and flourish.