“Why don’t we just use social media?”
Clients, after conceiving a small-scale initiative or discovering a news story about their brand, often pose this question. But if you wanted to grow a garden, you wouldn’t just toss a handful of random seeds at a patch of dirt and hope something will grow out of it. Instead, you’d examine the soil and analyze its potential so you could carefully select the right sort of seeds and choose the best area in which to plant them in order to yield the largest, healthiest crop.
The same principle applies to planning social media strategies, and why social media newsrooms will define the future of social engagement. These facilities are so valuable, yet still are so rare. Right now, NASCAR and Zimmerman have two of the country’s most cutting-edge such operations. The number one spectator sport in the nation knows what we know: That the tracking and analysis of social media content and its performance and results at every level, on every platform, are the most powerful way to find and refine best practices.
So when the client asks, “Why don’t we just use social media?” we give them the “tossing seeds” analogy, and then we ask them: “What is the goal?” Is it immediate revenue? Brand esteem? Name recognition? Customer retention? Traffic? Once we’ve established that information, powerful social analytics can uncover strong data and deep insight and reveal the path to the goal.
Gone are the days of counting likes, comments and retweets. New tools let us see rich demographic data beyond just the user’s age, gender and ballpark income: their interests, their purchasing behaviors, the ages and genders of their children and more. We can also track themes in content performance over time and find out what users like and don’t like.
Some of our tools let us see the big picture – overall impressions and engagement metrics – and some let us see how a single piece of content performs, right down to the revenue-driving capabilities of a single Pinterest Pin.
Today, we can also track paid media performance, determine the viability of our ad targeting parameters and make adjustments in real time based on the data we see. We can even create multiple test audiences, each with unique targeting characteristics, and determine which type of content resonates most with a certain type of audience. We can do this not just on social tools but on brands’ websites as well. We do it every day.
Social analytics gives brands the ability to develop extensive insights into consumers who are taking action, either through engagement, purchase or some form of interest – and also plenty of insight into consumers who don’t take action.
In the end, knowing not just the who but the what allows social marketers to make strategic decisions that create a much more fertile environment for results.