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Social media is a crucial component of contemporary marketing. Consumers spend an incredible amount of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and numerous other social media platforms. As a business, you can't afford to ignore the sales potential of those platforms. In other words, to reach customers where they are, social media marketing is a must.
However, it's not enough to simply advertise on social media or create a social media presence for your company. In today's world, your business needs to fully understand what marketing is working on social media and what isn't, so you can concretely tie your efforts to revenue.
Social media analytics tools provide the means for tracking, measuring and reporting on social media accounts and campaign performance. In this buyer's guide, we'll discuss the key functions of these tools and what you should be looking for in a vendor.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Are Social Media Analytics Tools?
Social media analytics tools gather and process data from conversations on social media that involve your company. This provides you with solid data from which to make business decisions regarding future social media marketing efforts.
Some social media experts divide social media analytics into four different categories:
- Descriptive analytics. Focuses on what has happened and what is happening on social media, in the form of reports and visualizations that help businesses make better informed decisions. Most social media analytics take this form.
- Diagnostic analytics. Goes beyond what has happened to try to analyze why it happened, using advanced statistics to distill data into a single top-down view that lets you see what has and hasn't worked in past campaigns.
- Predictive analytics. As the name suggests, this is a form of analytics that attempts to predict future events based on past and present social media data. It can be used to link specific customer events to typical past outcomes, such as a specific questions regularly leading to a particular purchase.
- Prescriptive analytics. This form of analytics provides you with the best course of action to take when handling a situation, based on the data accumulated from the outcomes of similar situations in the past.
Social media analytics tools can perform all of these types of analysis, depending upon the size and scope of the software you purchase.
Common Features of Social Media Analytics Tools
|Social media monitoring||Monitors social media platforms for any mention of your company, and tracks the interactions taking place on your own accounts.|
|Data aggregation||Pools together data from various social media sites to provide a basis for large-scale analysis.|
|Overall analysis||Provides a top-down analysis of your entire social media presence, so you can view strengths and weaknesses and make future decisions accordingly.|
|Platform analysis||Focuses on your performance and presence on a particular social media platform, such as Facebook or Twitter.|
|Campaign analysis||Focuses analytics tools on individual campaigns across multiple social media platforms.|
|Reporting||Generates easy-to-understand, usable reports, including spreadsheets, visuals, statistics and other useful data. These reports can help you make informed decisions about your social media presence and about your company in general.|
SproutSocial's social performance dashboard
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Social media analytics can range from the small-scale, i.e., providing you with statistics regarding how frequently you are mentioned on Twitter, to the very largest scale of business intelligence data analytics. Depending upon the size of your company, your needs for these tools will vary widely.
- Small business (one to 10 employees). A small-scale business will only need the most basic social media analytics, focusing on descriptive analytics that provide reports about your social media presence, allowing you to make informed decisions for the future.
- Midsize business (11 to 100 employees). Midsize businesses will want the descriptive analytics features as well, but they should also invest in diagnostic analytics tools. At this slightly larger scale, it is much more difficult to manually assess what is and isn't working in your social media campaigns, so those diagnostic tools will be extremely useful.
- Large/enterprise business (over 100 employees). In addition to the descriptive and diagnostic analytics tools used by smaller businesses, large-scale companies will want predictive and prescriptive analytics functionality to help them choose the next best action for a wide variety of platforms and campaigns.
Other factors to take into consideration when picking the best social media analytics tool for your business include:
- Integration with other systems. Although the analysis and reports generated by analytics tools can be useful in and of themselves, you may want to integrate those reports with other marketing software (e.g., marketing automation software or campaign management software). These integrations can easily facilitate responses to events on social media.
- Stand-alone software vs. a software suite. Although you can purchase stand-alone social media analytics tools, they are also frequently offered as one part of a larger suite of social media management software. If the features of this software appeal to you—including tools that will help you increase and improve your social media presence—then you may want to look into a bigger system that includes that extra functionality in addition to analytics.
- Cloud-based software vs. on-premise software. In the past, most software was hosted on-premise, meaning that a business would have to house and maintain the hardware on which the software would run. In recent years software distribution has become much simpler, through cloud-based systems that don't require any hardware or IT maintenance. Chances are extremely high that this is how your social media analytics tools will be distributed to you, but you'll want to clarify that with your vendor in order to be sure.