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Today, any business owner who knows anything about marketing will tell you that social media is essential. Everybody’s using it and there are several different popular platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, and even Snapchat. However, social media shouldn’t just be used as a platform for advertising your business. Time and time again, business owners make the mistake of using social media purely as a soapbox from which to shout about the products and services that they offer. And while this is great from time to time, don’t sell yourself short by missing out on everything else that using social media for business has to offer.

Along with being a great way to engage with your customers and get to know your audience better, you shouldn’t ignore the social media data stream. The data that you can gather from social media allows you to match interactions with the general interests and preferences of your followers, allowing you to come up with a very useful customer persona that provides you with a deeper insight into what your customer base wants.

Monitoring Social Media Data

It’s important to begin any social media plan by listening to the data, but what exactly are you listening out for? It’s a good idea to monitor the news that’s related to your business industry and environment since they can give you an idea of the types of conversations that are being had about your products and services. Social listening allows you to take this even further, really expand the information and make it even more relevant to your brand.

For example, you can gather data about the various reactions to your marketing campaigns, products, services, and content by measuring interactions with messages, likes, comments, retweets, mentions, shares, and more. Measure these interactions by volume, relevance, and sentiment and then track it over time to make it easier for you to determine just how well your new products, offers, content, and campaigns are received by your audience.

You can find a range of useful tools that are designed to help you monitor the basic volume of interactions on social media, including HootSuite and Google Alerts. As you gather more data, you might find it useful to upgrade to a more advanced tool that allows you to track data automatically, such as Scout Labs or Radian 6.

Defining Meaningful Social Media Data

Before starting any social media data analysis, it’s important to understand the distinction between meaningful social data and vanity metrics. In the past, marketers were often caught up with the various vanity metrics such as the number of followers that the page had or the number of likes that a post got, but while these might look impressive, they mean very little if your thousands of followers aren’t converting into customers.

On the other hand, considering why certain posts have had more engagement than others can help you put together better social media marketing strategies for the future. For example, if you post content that is shared thousands of times, perhaps it’s worth considering creating more similar content in the future. If you suddenly get an influx of followers after using a certain hashtag in a tweet or post, perhaps you should use it more often. It can be all too easy to get carried away with the numbers on your social media without considering what they mean in context – how you analyze your data is important and makes all the difference. Click here to learn more about data analytics and why they are important to marketing teams.

How to Analyze Social Media Data

The first step to making your social media data work for you is to collect it. Once it’s collected, the data is then analyzed or measured to determine what works and what doesn’t. Brands are constantly gathering data from social media – every time somebody engages with your brand on social media by commenting on or liking a post, that’s a new data point.

The more data you are able to collect from social media and analyze, the more informed decisions you will be able to make for your business. Collecting and measuring social data provides you with deep insights into engagement and social shares; information that you can use to determine what your business needs to be doing more of in regards to social platforms. And, social data is not exclusive to social media marketing decisions alone. For example, you might use data gathered on social media to determine which products or services to sell in the future.

Determining Social Media KPIs

Social ROI is something that a large percentage of marketers need to talk about more often. However, before you are able to define your social ROI, it’s important to ensure that you have clearly defined your key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are a range of business metrics that are used to measure and define business success, and in relation to social media, they are the metrics that you will use to determine what is getting you the results that you want for your business, and what’s not working for you.

Before you can effectively track and analyze social media data to determine the next steps to take for success, you have to know which social media KPIs are to be tracked and analyzed – once you’ve done this, you’ll get a clearer picture of just how well your social strategy is performing. Some examples of social media KPIs for business include customer engagement, response times, and audience reach.

Sorting Metrics by Importance

Once you have social media data to analyze, you will need to determine what your metrics are in order of importance. This will vary depending on what your brand is trying to achieve the most. For example, if your business is focused on providing excellent customer service, response times and positive customer mentions are going to be your top metrics. On the other hand, if you are more interested in social selling or content marketing, your main metric is going to be figuring out which posts are getting the most clicks, and where these clicks are coming from. Raising brand awareness is often a top priority for a wide range of companies, involving maximizing your brand’s visibility on social media by encouraging engagement with followers and getting new followers.

Social media metrics will vary from business to business and some might be unique to your company. But whatever your top metric priorities are, the main priority should always be to turn your metrics into action – which you can do once you have the data.

How Social Data Can Help You Make Business Decisions

One of the most important factors involved in collecting social media data is being able to gather enough information to make confident, informed business decisions. Whatever your business objective, insights from your consumer community are extremely important. Whether you want to decide how you’re going to expand a product or service range or are figuring out what content your followers want to see the most, it’s important to use these numbers as the basis for making these business decisions.

There are various tools available that you can use to access ready-made reports of analyzed social media data on every major social network. Every network will have different objectives, metrics, and data to consider. But the bottom line is that no matter which social networks are the most important for your business, the data is there – you just have to analyze it.

Using Social Media to Collect Targeted Data

What if the data you’re gathering from social media simply isn’t enough to help you make a certain business decision? For example, perhaps you are considering adding a new service to offer your audience, and want to know what your customers would be interested in seeing the most. Along with collecting the data that is generated by the interactions your followers have with your brand on social media, you can also use it for a more targeted approach. For example, a business that has several different ideas for a new product might post polls or surveys on social media and encourage followers to take part in order to get a clearer idea of which product is going to be the most likely to do well. If you are struggling with a certain business decision due to a lack of data, social media can be used to easily collect the targeted data that you need.

Are You Making the Most of Social Media?

If your social media profiles are typically used for advertising rather than gathering important data about your follower base, you’re probably not making the most of these important social tools. Today, data-driven marketing is the standard for all businesses, and collecting data from social media allows you to avoid the guesswork and make smarter business decisions every step of the way.

Social media is a key tool for any business today. But beyond an advertising and engagement platform, social media provides endless data that you can use to improve your future business and marketing decisions.

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