As social media continues to evolve exponentially, keeping track of it even at a personal level becomes a difficult task. You can imagine how much more involved this can be for an entire company or brand to make sense of all this data. The following post examines 6 critical questions that arise when attempting to monitor social media.
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1. Who are the key influencers?
- Key influencers for one company, brand, or product may have absolutely no influence at all for another. Obviously, the number of followers, friends, retweets, mentions, subscribers, etc. is certainly important. However, there is much more criteria that must be considered than simply quantitative metrics focused on reach, frequency, and amplification (or audience, authority, and activity) such as expertise, credibility, or experience. Plenty of startups have taken their own crack at influence including Klout, PeerIndex, or EmpireAvenue and, naturally, they all have their own approach. The common methodology seems to be assigning a standardized influence score for each piece of an individual’s social media footprint (ex: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). This makes sense, but another question to consider is about the timeframe in which this data has been pulled. Do they have access to historical data and, if so, how much? How long will it take to get a solid reading on the available data? A week? 3 months? 3 years?
2. What are the right data sources to tap into?
- This really depends on your objectives. If you are international, you will have to face the challenge of dealing with multiple languages. Some argue that gaining firehose access is the way to go if it’s offered, but others are more concerned with tapping into strictly the data they feel is actually relevant (GIGO). Unfortunately, the web will never have one universal API. Try to identify the most vital sources based on your objectives and make this an ongoing process. The most important thing is that you are constantly uncovering relevant insights.
3. When will automated sentiment analysis become accurate enough to require zero human interaction?
- Natural language processing (NLP) has come a long way and, coupled with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and various other semantic elements, researchers are making significant progress. The industry norm for sentiment accuracy is somewhere around 70%. Even if it becomes 100% accurate in the future, this won’t provide much further value unless it can expose more than simply if something is positive, negative, or neutral. Scalability is not the issue with such automated methodologies, but rather their ability to determine deeper meaning.
4. Where are the standardized social media metrics?
- Unlike web analytics (ex: page views, unique visitors, bounce rate, etc.), social media lacks a system of standardized metrics. This is mostly because a lot of these have yet to be fully defined. Everyone is taking their own approach and getting different results even if they are all tapping into the same exact data sources. What is important now is to figure out the best approach and most relevant metrics to support your specific objectives. As social media matures, universal standards will eventually be established and aggregate analysis will be more feasible.
5. Why are most of the current monitoring solutions so complex and expensive?
- There are hundreds of solutions out there and you don’t necessarily get what you pay for. One thing you can count on: the cheaper the solution, the more spam and less detailed analysis you will receive. Not to mention, many are incredibly overpriced and lack adequate value or differentiation. Even the fanciest UI or visualization in the industry can’t compensate for the tremendous amount of synthesis it takes to truly uncover any actionable insights. Merely getting started frequently has a steep learning curve. With the majority of the solutions, setting up your queries perfectly is essential for a useful output and often requires significant tutorials or personal assistance which usually costs extra. Finding a solution that fits your objectives, budget, and abilities can be challenging.
6. How do you consistently measure social media ROI?
- This is an ongoing challenge that has certainly yet to be conquered. Social media’s qualitative nature, fragmentation, and lack of measurability across platforms make it relatively difficult to quantify with total certainty. Simply put, you must make the most of the data and common keys you’re able to recognize. Set appropriate goals and make estimations to track your progress as needed. Strive to uncover an approach that satisfies your needs and provides enough evidence for ROI. Not only would this allow you to quantify the true value of all your social media efforts in dollar amounts, but it will provide the much desired buy-in from upper management that can be rather hard to come by. Start talking impact to the bottom-line and you’ll be sure to get attention.
Eric Kramer, Creative Director, Marketing & Business Development @NEPUTATION