There are numerous tools available to monitor how people interact with a particular website. For example, identifying the pages that are most and least viewed, the search terms used to find the site, and physical locations of site visitors. The wealth of data that can be collected provides business with invaluable information to further direct future online strategies, product development, and future markets to target. Using analytical tools to collate data of this nature is pretty much old hat, but with advent of the social media boom, new strategies are having to be developed to identify and collect data based on a business' social media presence and activity.
Social media analytics enable businesses to see how they are being perceived, talked about, identify trends in that particular industry or field, identify which strategies and what content is resulting in actual lead conversions, and can go some way to calculating the ROI on their social marketing spend. Despite the fact that sales from social media commerce is in the billions of dollars, up to 70% of businesses still do not measure the effectiveness and results of their social media efforts.
Data can be collected which identifies which social media strategies are benefiting a company's business objectives and those which are hindering – an often over looked aspect of the social web.
Social web analytics provides business with invaluable consumer knowledge which can then help further targeted marketing campaigns, product propositions and development, and even suggest personalized options to consumers and prospects based on their buying habits and likes and preferences. In a nutshell, social web analytics and understanding the data enables the optimization of social media plans and an essential part of social marketing management.
How it is done?
Measuring social activity is a relatively new area in the world of web analytics. Google, for example, has only recently incorporated a social plug-in for their Google Analytics product. There are tonnes of online tools – some free, some paid for – that can be utilized to give marketers the data they need. There are even natural language processing tools which can help measure the number of positive comments compared to negative.There is a wealth of information to be gauged from effective monitoring of online activity, but there are still limitations and questions surrounding how to measure accurately the ROI from social media.
Data that can be determined from social web analytics
Here are some examples of the different types of data sets and information that can be obtained and reported on from analysis:
· Which of the visitors to your main site or landing page have been referred by social networks; this enables brands to determine where on the social web they should focus their efforts on.
· What content on these social networks is driving this traffic, and which content leads to engagement with your prospects; this enables strategic content planning, production and publishing.
· What are the differences and similarities between your social audience and your web audience; are they posting on and visiting the same sites, how does their geographical location compare?
· Which of your web and social visitors are return visitors; is there a correlation between their likelihood of returning and their social activity?
· What time does your site traffic peak, how does this compare to the peak of your social engagements? Provides insight as to when is the best time for delivering content.
· How does your blog content and upload activity to the blog relate to your prospects and customers social engagement?
· Which key search terms in your social content are driving visitors to your site?
· How many referrals from social to your site result in lead conversions? Is there a correlation between this and content type, a particular network, a time of day?
· What reach do you have on the social web? Ie how many fans or followers, added to their friends and followers.
· What are the sales conversions rates and what is the average order value? How does this relate to the customers that have come via social links, compared to other means such as traditional search or as a unique visitor?
All of the information that can be gained can be then used to enhance and optimize your social marketing management. As you can see from the list above, what's important when considering the ROI is not just the figures and data gained from social analysis, but more importantly how this links in with and merges with the traditional web analytics data obtained from tools such as Google Analytics , HootSuite, and Omniture. What brands actually need to do is look at the correlations and relationships that exist between the two types of data in order to gain an overall picture of how they influence each other.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Understanding these two sets of data and how they relate to each other is the only way currently to gauge what sort of ROI a brand can expect from their social marketing management. However, due to the intangible nature of some aspects of social media, and because there are so many factors at play during the purchase decision, determining an exact ROI is near to impossible. Calculating the ROI in this instance is more complex that the usual cost versus increase in sales equation since there are too many variables and intangible elements, despite the range of cool technology and tools now available. In order to gain some idea of the ROI you need to first define web conversion goals. This will then serve as a benchmark from which you can measure and compare future activity, including the measurables listed above for example. By identifying relevant correlations in the different sets of data, you can draw up significant conclusions about the effectiveness and impact of your social media efforts.
The intangible elements of the social world add significant limitations on how you can measure the impact of online social activity. For example, it is difficult to measure long term impact of social media. Interactions and sales may actually take months to come to fruition as there is a delay between initial posts and social engagement and a conversion to sales, making it difficult to pin point when the switch was made. It is also difficult to see the whole picture when considering a transaction as there may be multiple platform interactions over a long period of time. Companies can use customer surveys to help identify what led to a purchase decision, but this relies on further resources and customer willingness, so is also limited. And in the social marketing management arena, not even the most sophisticated tools can measure human sentiment, or the context in which a comment or post is published. Identifying how a particular branding incident affects sales over time and how it affects brand perception in the mind of the consumer is not something that can be measured. However, using a combination of web analytics, sales data and social web data, cause and effect can be estimated.
Source by Steve Borland