We have been in the digital marketing solutions game since November 2008, and to this day, we keep getting this question from brands:
Which social analytics tool do you recommend for us?
Our response? A question from us:
What social media metric(s) are you looking to measure?
Why do we answer a question with a question?
Because, our experience has been that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to social analytics tools.
We explain our rationale behind our experience in this eNsight.
We further elaborate on the most effective process for selecting social media metrics, and matching appropriate social analytics tools to track them.
Table of Contents
Social analytics tools: our list
Given that the topic of this eNsight is social analytics tools, let us share our list of the popular ones, and thereby make the point that there is a plethora of them.
Here is a list of 10 of them, in no particular order:
We have used 9 of the 10 tools above in our 11 years of operation to date.
The only tool we have not tested so far is Brandwatch, but we have researched it and know what it offers.
As we mentioned, there are so many social analytics tools in the market, and the best way to discover their best features has been through testing as many of them as we could.
What we found out through the process of testing the tools that there is no single one of them that is effective across all the key social media metrics, and in some cases across all the main social networks Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Therefore, we will pair the appropriate tools to the key metrics shortly.
But first, let us identify the metrics.
Most common social media metrics
Here too, the list of social media metrics can be long, and is till growing.
Drivers of growth in the number of social media metrics
Here are the 3 main drivers of growth in the number of social media metrics:
- Explosion of digital technologies.
As an example, the publishing date of this eNsight coincides with that of the rumoured launch of 5G-enabled iPhone 12.
- The growing number of uses of social media –
- (re)connecting with friends, family, colleagues, brands and companies;
- striking new relationships (social, business, love , etc);
- building brands (personal, commercial, public, political, not-for-profit, etc);
- platform for self-expression and expression of state of mind;
- sales (before, during and after);
- effective advancing of causes (social, political, extremist, etc);
- an alternative broadcast channel (entertainment, traffic, sports, etc.);
- platform for citizen journalism and social media police (look up #BiancaMustFall);
- source of information and research; and
- downright spreading of malicious information, for which this channel has been found to be most effective.
- The burgeoning number of social analytics tools that have been trying to create unique selling propositions; resulting in repackaging, further subdividing of existing, or introducing of new metrics.
The 3 drivers above do interconnect and can influence one another.
Lessons for selection of key metrics
We have learnt two important lessons thus far:
- The more things change, the more they stay the same; and this is also the case for key metrics.
- For brands to be able to track their social media goals overtime; they need to select specific and measurable metrics, and preferably stick to the basics in their selection; and avoid being seduced by “shiny objects”, of which there are many in the social media analytics space.
- The fewer the selected metrics, the better the focus and effectiveness.
Key metric categories for brands
Despite the growth in social media metrics, the key ones for brands can be grouped into the following categories:
Community management category incorporates reach, impressions, fanning, following and all engagement metrics.
Social CRM category incorporates mentions expressed as questions and queries, and responses.
Sentiment category incorporates mentions that express feelings about a brand.
Conversions category incorporates content views, clicks, and performing of specific actions on the site, including visiting specific pages and online sale.
Application of the 1+4 Metric Matrix
Having identified the 4 metric categories above, which we refer to as OUTPUT metrics – that is, these are the outputs of underlying INPUT metrics – we apply our proprietary model for scientific selection and effective measurement of social media marketing.
The 1+4 Metric Matrix is a disciplined process that dictates that a brand must select ONLY one output metric, and a maximum of 4 input metrics.
The model, which we published in September 2019, ensures that a brand selects and tracks the metrics that matter, and thus cuts out the noise.
Matching output metrics with most appropriate tools
Most Appropriate Social Analytics Tools
Locowise, Brandmentions, Socialsprout
There are many tools that can do great job of effectively measuring this output metric. Our favourite is Locowise, which we rank highly for more comprehensive competitive analytics with allowance of a fairly large number of brands across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
We rank this tool as the best in the market for this output metric. In addition, it is one of the few tools that are able to extract more accurate data from Facebook, a platform known for not being generous with giving access to its data to third-party analytics tools.
From a South African (and African) perspective, this tool is closest to the social heart beat geographically and thus can more accurately interpret nuances in social emotions, as opposed to imported tools such as Brandmentions, which may not interpret the context accurately.
Conversions require following the consumer journey from social media to Websites. This tool is one of the best and yet easiest to use in the integration of data across online platforms.
Any reason for social analytics tools that are not in the matching table?
Why are some of the social analytics tools from the list of 10 that we provided above not in the matching table in the previous section?
What clients will experience is that each online analytics service provider has its favourite number of tools it uses.
This does not mean that those tools that are left out are not necessarily effective.
As we indicated, there are so many of these tools that there are ample selection options.
The key prerequisite is that each output metric must be paired with the right tool.
What social analytics tool(s) do you use for tracking performance of your social media marketing?