Do you ever feel like you need a math degree to make sense of all the data you have access to? From Twitter analytics to media monitoring scores, it can feel a little overwhelming.
Last week we looked at three danger zones to avoid when it comes to social analytics and today we’ve got two more – plus a bonus tip! Read on for more insight on maximizing your analytics to generate meaningful reports.
Since the early days of the web, tricks and shortcuts have risen (and fallen) to help people get the best results. If you use Twitter follow sites, contests on Facebook or clickbait-style headlines on your blog, you’ll do well. For a while. “There’s always a blackhat way to do things,” says Gary Edgar, managing director of Ruckus Digital. “They’ll eventually find you out and you’ll have to rethink your strategy.” Digital services like search engines and social sites are always on the hunt for such tricks, and will change their policies and algorithms to get rid of them. It’s already happened with search engine optimization (SEO) with crackdowns on keyword stuffing and link building. Late last year Instagram famously changed the game when it purged the fake and spam accounts from its platform, causing some users to lose millions of followers.
“You have to do good content. You have to do things that are relevant,” says Edgar. Avoid the short-term payoff that comes with shortcuts and wait things out for more lasting, long term results.
Analytics are amazing at identifying what you’ve done right, and just how it worked. Great results, however, create the temptation to simply write the same kind of content, put out the same kind of campaign and repeat those successes again and again. Ride this wave of glory for a little while, but be aware that creating campaigns and content based entirely on numbers will eventually drive you into stagnation.
"You can get into a comfort zone,” says Edgar, and he doesn’t mean it in a good way.
You need to set aside the data and innovate on a regular basis, trying new things and letting your ideas stumble or fail from time to time. As long as you stay on-brand and use a consistent voice in your content, don’t be afraid to just let the numbers go once in a while.
No matter how beautiful the charts and spreadsheets, if the people reviewing your reports don’t understand what they’re seeing, it’s all for naught. Get senior management up to speed on your objectives in advance and define those pesky descriptor terms so everyone sees the same thing when they look at your numbers.
If the numbers don’t seem to be telling you the full story, invest in tools that can provide more meaningful insight. Free tools can get you started but social monitoring subscriptions better help you gauge success and benchmark campaigns. The right service can also provide you with access to experts who can consult on your social strategy and ensure your time and effort truly pays off.