Social Media and Analytics, What can we measure?
Social Media is here to stay and there is no doubt they represent a new way to expand our online marketing strategies. The reverse side of the coin is that nobody is sure about how to measure the effect of our campaigns, so their effectiveness remains unknown unfortunately.
Trying to get the needle from the hay sack and after a round on the sites asking the same type of questions, conclusions remain unclear but some answers seem to shape little by little.
Measure it all
Before taking any action, while sketching the campaign, presuppose any benefit. While we have our hands on it, chase errors and amend them along the way. After the campaign is on, accurately evaluate the results, get conclusions and learn as much as possible from it. This is a newborn discipline, an ongoing process, where you only can move ahead.
Well. We know what we have before and after. During the before we should figure out a strategy based on objectives, and doubts rise their hands. In which social networks should I invest my time? How many users do they have? Are they very active? Can I segment them somehow: sex, age, country, city?
Obviously there is no more information than the one these networks make available, Facebook, Twitter or the one we get via third parties. They are not a lot. It is reasonable to think that the real value of social networks resides in the commercial use of statistical data, so it is going to be kept as diamonds and gold ready to be converted in a big amount of cash. A free little portion of this data is the hook to catch our attention.
While the after, counting the fish we got in the net, so to speak, it is not an easy task but some light appears at the end of the tube. Not too hard to measure the effects in your own web site, where and when they come (some tricks required to guess what the word of mouth, the buzz adds to your traffic), but mission impossible to take into account all the statistical data. It is in the nature of human relationships and, of course, in the digital ones.
Some networks make available basic stats services, the hook for online marketing agencies. Youtube let you see some interesting data. It is supposed that inherits this philosophy from Google once becoming part of its universe.
Flickr Stats are available for pro members http://blogs.photopreneur.com/what-flickr-stats-mean-for-you, Nothing is for free at Yahoo Stats systems.
Facebook offers some data at Insights for companies wiling to run campaigns on the famous social network, while third party companies are showing their head specialised in stats for applications like Adonomics or Developer analytics.
Let's see what the near future is planning for us
To summarise, the metrics used to observe social networks can't be the ones used up until now. Measuring the influence of what we try to communicate, the ability of third ones to transmit the message and how they do is something yet to come. Don't forget taking an eye on online reputation to keep it under control, a false step and you are done.
Working on regular campaign stats is hard enough and social networks add some fuel to the fire, not only because we go through more new and exciting channels, but because of the difficulty to measure while moving along them.
We hope this is a changing trend as their economical success relies on offering a better statistical control to improve online campaigns for advertisers and online marketers.
Image: 'The Illuminated Crowd'
sculpted by Raymond Masson,
pic by appaloosa under CC license