Tapping the potential of social media analytics tools
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As customers' use of social media flourishes across multiple channels, gathering actionable social media intelligence...
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gets complicated. But now that social media engagement has gained influence over marketing and brand exposure, it's even more valuable to have a social strategy that cuts through the noise.
Frank Litjens, senior digital director at Fame House LLC, an agency that runs online marketing campaigns for world-famous artists and live events in the music and entertainment industries, faces an intricate challenge when it comes to social media intelligence. Externally, the company must gather data across multiple channels as its audience interacts with the social media content that is part of each campaign. Internally, Litjens must bring social media data together for multiple brands from around the globe, so that marketers can use it in a standardized way.
Philadelphia-based Fame House is a subsidiary of SFX Entertainment, a company that produces live music and entertainment events. Fame House serves as a central hub for a variety of brands and event promoters, helping meet their digital marketing needs and providing them with a standard set of tools that allow everyone to pull the same data from the same place for a broader, more useful perspective on social media activity. "Part of my role is to make sure that we are connected with all data points and we have the data come in at a central place so we can then use it for BI matters," Litjens said.
Connecting social media activity to business goals
According to Litjens, working with a standard set of metrics is an important aspect of centralizing social media monitoring and analytics. For example, one indicator of a campaign's success might be event ticket sales. In that case, "We need insights into how all these social endeavors relate to ticket sales," Litjens said.
As part of its digital marketing campaigns, Fame House develops and posts YouTube videos that might be a trailer for an upcoming event or the release of an event lineup. Links advertising available tickets or the upcoming lineup help convert viewers into website visitors, and possibly into ticket buyers. "We see that for some events, the trailer release itself sparks a ton of ticket sales, but other events need to have the lineup released," Litjens said.
To find trends in the relationship between social media activity and sales, Fame House turns to analytics tools, overlaying day-to-day ticket sales with post performance graphs and metrics such as likes, comments and shares.
When monitoring more than one social media channel, Litjens said that his team normalizes the graphs of social media activity to gain more standardized comparisons across channels. Twitter, for example, might consistently have less activity than YouTube has views, so it's important to take those differences into consideration when looking for links between social media engagement and campaign success.
Social management tools help filter data
According to business intelligence expert Scott Robinson, the biggest challenge in using social media data to support decision making is judging data quality. "If the data isn't good, the decisions based on it will suffer," he said. "Is the data coming from the best sources? Is it complete? Is the data truly relevant? And is it in a meaningful context?"
At Fame House, a standard set of social media monitoring and analytics tools allows people across the enterprise to pull data from centralized stores rather than using a patchwork of smaller tools that could muddy the data. The company uses a management platform from Denmark-based Falcon Social to perform day-to-day analytics and to pull monthly reports. Simply Measured, an analytics tool that Fame House also uses across the enterprise, allows deeper dives into social media data when a pattern emerges and needs further analysis.
The Falcon Social platform also helps filter out irrelevant data. For example, Fame House runs campaigns that use hashtags to track social engagement and connect it to brand awareness and artist awareness. The marketing team working on that campaign can use Falcon to view the stream of hashtagged messages across social media channels. They can filter out irrelevant messages manually, but Falcon's self-learning capabilities can help. If the team marks similar messages as spam, the system starts to recognize the pattern and will automatically relegate those types of messages to a spam folder in the future.
Conversely, Falcon can help spot high-priority messages. If a user with certain characteristics -- such as widespread influence on social media or a high number of friends or followers -- uses the hashtag, Falcon places those messages in a high-priority inbox.
"So the broad strokes are being done by Falcon and then the team can decide what is actually [a] high priority," Litjens said.
"When you're pulling multiple bodies of data from multiple sources, each of which has its own shortcomings, you end up with noisy data," Robinson said. "[It's] more trouble still to filter the data down to what's truly useful. But there is no alternative if you want the best possible picture that social media can give."
Another benefit of Falcon Social's technology, for Litjens, is the ability to standardize and tailor reports for different parts of the enterprise. Litjens' team at Fame House can pull reports from a centralized place, and can easily customize them if a certain brand is only interested in specific social channels.
The next hurdle for Fame House is translating social media data for anyone in the company, such as members of upper management. "Even graphs that look spiffy to social marketers or digital marketers won't necessarily make sense for a CEO or a COO. Reporting has to work for whoever you're going to show," Litjens said.
According to Litjens, the most essential step toward better social media intelligence is employee adoption of standard methods and tools. "We can create the most beautiful tools in the world, but it's down to people using them for the tools to be of value to the company," he said.
To encourage adoption, Litjens recommended letting employees see the value of new tools firsthand. For example, once event marketers know that they can avoid going into Facebook, YouTube, and Google Analytics separately -- and instead manage their day-to-day social media tasks from a central platform -- they were happy to use Falcon Social. "It's an organic process," he said.
He also noted that the efficiencies these tools offer give marketers time to step back from daily tasks and examine the big picture of their campaigns' successes and shortcomings.
But for Litjens, the ideal social media analytics toolkit may take a while to develop.
"Now, we can only see general relationships -- on a broad trend," he said. "But the Holy Grail, for me, is if we could actually see how much a certain post on a certain channel has converted into ticket sales. You'd have to be pulling and comparing from so many external sources to get a credible view on that kind of metric and the development of such a system is an enormous undertaking. Gradually, we're making headway."
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