The number of channels available to marketers is growing as a result of the proliferation of social media tools. It is no longer just about dipping a toe in the water with Facebook and Twitter.  Instead, there is an opportunity to raise a brand’s profile more broadly, with niche audiences. At the same time however, marketers are faced with a number of challenges based on audiences and resources being split across multiple platforms.

Marketing performance analysis has become increasingly essential to ensure that resources can be spread appropriately. Brands want to know which channels are working together as well as those that are performing outright. There is also an increasing demand for this information in real-time to ensure that they remain innovative, agile and reactive. Broadly speaking, there are five points which can provide a guide for how to make sense of the exciting marketing possibilities.

Set up your data factory

Before steaming into any activity or analysis, data has to be aggregated in a way that is time efficient and syncs in with your business priorities. Marketers at the execution level often complain of the time spent logging in an out of multiple platforms, so pulling this information into a dashboard which also includes a full brand ecosystem is an essential starting point. Social analysis should not be performed as a separate entity. By integrating into a wider ecosystem, all activities can be easily integrated and operate in sync.

Leverage your assets

The point here is that it is not essential just to have lots of different tools and tracking systems. Not all brands and industries are the same so you need to think logically and strategically at the beginning to avoid wasted analysis of the wrong information. For luxury goods, Twitter and Instagram tend to dominate. For cosmetics as a point of comparison, blogs and forums have become increasingly popular based on a requirement to collect feedback and identify whether the product will be well appreciated – often before launch.

Don’t report, but react

Social media trends move rapidly and in real-time, making responsiveness key. Unlike traditional methods of analysis, lengthy reporting processes are not the best way to get ahead.  Instead, the priority should be about setting clear benchmarks so that metrics can be analysed in real-time. If anomalies in the data become apparent then it is important to act instantly. Long chains of command and sign off processes should be replaced by much swifter action teams.

A key point here is that, despite a wealth of social media analytics tools, the best way to really make the most of social media is to maximise the value of human insight. A pretty graph provided by a tool will never be as insightful and actionable as someone thinking logically through the data. It is therefore important to develop an ad-hoc analysis methodologically tailored specifically to the needs of each client. This should simplify and condense decisions, enabling them to be more responsive.

Build a digital lab

This is the fun bit. Social media is about clever storytelling and an ability to resonate with the audience. More than ever, before the content generated needs to be of value to the consumer, they need to engage with it and be engaged by it. It is therefore very common for multiple attempts to drive interest to not catch fire. Be prepared to have a number of creative ideas at your disposal and use your digital assets as a laboratory to test them. 

Test small and learn fast

Many marketers still feel that ‘the big idea’ is driven on a grand scale and that subsequently the idea trickles down and is adapted for social media. This can still be the case, but increasingly, quite the opposite actually happens. By testing small on social media it is possible to learn fast about the quality and viral nature of the content. Using the digital labs an idea can be tested in a single area, with benchmarks set up for its success. It can then be activated in an integrated process across other social channels. As its virality increases, there is then a subsequent opportunity to boost the content and scale up rapidly through paid channels including broadcast and offline.

Testing the content also provides further insights to help drive additional content ideas. A pipeline of ideas can then be developed, increasing a brands ability to react to current consumer interests and trends.

Ready to begin?

There you have it. The performance of social media should not concern marketers to be when delivering and assessing the performance of an integrated strategy. By focusing on content, setting clear strategic goals and using a laboratory to test ideas, it can be a very exciting way to engage consumers based on their interests closer than ever before.