Hits or hypes : Social analytics

A strong presence in the social media networks that matter is crucial for brands. But how do companies know where to socialise in order to reach the desired demographic? How can research and analytics help?

What a difference a year makes… At the 2016 edition of AdWeek London marketers and brands were lining up to speak with the Snapchat team. The panel discussion with representatives from this hottest of social media apps was jam packed. Fast forward to Summer 2017, and Snapchat shares plummeted after reporting huge second quarter losses. Not only was this a result of investments outpacing revenues, but more significantly Snapchat’s ‘unique features’ proved easy to copy by mighty competitors like the Facebook owned Instagram. Will Snapchat, after Twitter, be yet another example of a social darling that fails to deliver on its initial promise? Judging by the marketing millions organisations are spending on these platforms, they don’t seem all too concerned. So who can stop them from betting on the wrong horse?

Vanity metrics

Fedor Filimonov, global head of pre-sales at global social media analytics company Socialbakers, gives us the numbers: with 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is without a doubt the biggest platform out there. Instagram has 700 million and is growing quickly, while Twitter is still very powerful with 328 million monthly active users. But in social it’s not as simple as ‘the bigger the better’. Socialbakers recently did some research into the best platforms for social engagement across different user groups. The results: on a global level Facebook is a great platform for media, while Instagram is more powerful for celebrities and brands. Media outlets also work great on Twitter, due to its tweets, which are immediate and mimic traditional headlines. “However”, Filimonov adds, “working out which is the right platform to invest in really depends on your marketing strategy and objectives.” He explains that every objective is achievable through social, but warns that marketers should avoid the temptation of focusing merely on ‘vanity metrics’, such as number of fans. “Only by connecting social media metrics with business goals, marketers can demonstrate the true impact of their efforts on the organisation and debunk the myth of social being just a hype.”

The obvious approach to achieve that seems to be some form of social research or analytics. But where to start? “Brands sometimes jump in head first when thinking about implementing a social analytics platform,” says Dinah Alobeid, director of communications at social intelligence company Brandwatch. A tried and tested first step, she recommends, is to evaluate their existing social maturity and identify specific business objectives and outcomes they’d like to see from using a platform such as Brandwatch.

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