Analytics … SMAnalytics! We Need New Thinking

Analytics, Smanalytics

SES Chicago Day three had me digging deep into my vernacular and coining the new word “SMAnalytics” which combines analytics and SM, A.K.A. Social Media. Where is this intersection of Social Media and Analytics?

In the session, “Social Media – Measuring the Business Value,” presenters sought to dig into the subject of measuring this business value. Through the use of search and web analytics, social media programs can be shaped and results can be measured.

I know, I know, it’s hard to imagine.  Panelists outlined social media marketing programs they’ve designed and how they have documented the impact. The moderator was Pauline Ores, SES Advisory Board & Senior Marketing Manager, Social Media Engagement, IBM Corporation.

The first speaker was Brian Halligan, CEO and Co-Founder of HubSpot. He tackled the questions of why social media is good and how do we measure it? How influential are you? What should you do next?

Social Media works for marketers because it is a function of the thickness of your brain versus the thickness of your wallet. How clever and interesting can you be? Even in the economic downturn, Social Media continues to show gains and because of its propensity for being budget-friendly, is ideal for small businesses to spread the word.

As time goes on, humans get better and better at blocking messages. Computers are equipped with spam blockers, phones with caller id and do-not-call-lists, and televisions with digital video recorders. Traditional methods of getting the message out don’t always work in these arenas.

Since humans change, the way we send and receive messages also needs to evolve. Through Social Media, marketers can engage audiences all in one place with pertinent information and in-depth engagement. In addition the viral nature of social media is high.

But where does social media reach and how do you measure it? To measure, one must first figure out reach by figuring out where fans and subscribers are coming from. They could be from email campaigns, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to name a few. Next, look at social media trending by analyzing social media funnels. Where did the traffic for visitors versus prospects come from? Figure out which venue sent traffic that turned into a lead or customer and then track the growth.

Bill Hunt, CEO, of Global Strategies International, gave his viewpoint. The “bee in his bonnet wants to know how to quantify. Before embarking on the path to quantification, goals must be defined. Typical social media goals might include generating awareness or getting folks to compare products. It might be about cultivating conversations or building an advocacy base for the offerings, or goals might be about connection. They could also be about support or about optimizing offerings.

As we meander along the path of results enlightenment, it becomes clear that if we could understand the impact of achieving the goals, we could then identify ways to measure progress for the company and then uncover tactics to affect it. After all, what we really want to do is to find the right people and then help them figure out what to do once they are found.

Once goals are established, how do you measure being social? First ask yourself, “are you listening?” Tools such as Google Alerts, Buzz Metrics, MyBlogLog, and Googleblog are a good places to start. It is a great practice to monitor the market conversation regarding your brand. Is the talk good or bad? What are the influences to the conversation? This is all valuable information about your product and about how to market your product.

Social media doesn’t have to be about sitting back and letting the conversation fly by you. JOIN IN! Stimulate the conversation via Twitter. Then, monitor the Tweets to understand the conversation and finally empower evangelists who will advocate for your brand. If you engage, don’t be surprised if blogs and social media bookmarks outrank your site in the SERPS.

Rob Key, CEO, Converseon spoke third and also emphasized the power of social media listening and measurement. Conversation mining can get you deep insight into trends. It’s not just for monitoring anymore. True engagement requires a ‘listen first” approach. From here engagement morphs into four phases: listening, organizing engaging and finally measuring and/or optimizing. Get back to the basics of human communication.

When listening, try to capture and understand the consumer-generated media spewing out. Always listen before you engage. Take the treasure box of what you hear and inform creative, inform media planning, initiate reputation management, adjust search and content creation, and inform market research departments.

Where do you dig for these jewels? Start by mining a wide range of sources such as social networks, blogs, and micro blogs. Mine for volume, source, sentiment, tone, voices/new voices, topic/subtopic, velocity, influence, and demographics to name a few. Find out who is most influential and what they are contributing. Ask yourself, what is the anatomy of the conversation?

For instance, who are the voices and what do they think about the product, the fees, etc. Don’t dismiss the fact that you will also find out more about your product and your competitors through this listening. Even though it may be tempting to turn back to technology, just remember that it can’t get to the unique nuggets and nuances people bring to the table. You still need people.

Speaking of people, remember your staff. Try “listening” to your entire organization for organizational transformation. Social Media from the inside out is not just for marketing but can also be used for organizational issues.

By listening to conversations, you can quantify progress by watching the trending. What is the next big thing moving forward? Take action on what you “hear.”

Keep in mind that no part of internet marketing is mutually exclusive. Use what you learn in Social Media and apply it to your SEO and PPC campaigns and vice versa.

Social media marketing is good but hard to measure since many of the metrics seem intangible. Never fear, it is doable IF you have clearly defined goals and you know what you’re looking for. It’s a jungle out there and if you don’t have an idea of what you’re looking for, you might get tangled up in the millions of threads of conversation.

However, once you establish what you are looking for, set up methods of tracking the data so it you can make sense of it in the plan of attack stage and remember to…”Keep on Talkin’.”

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