Contact Us


The Dirt on Social Media Analytics
Written by Betsy
Monday, 18 March 2013 12:03

“Which is the “best” social media analytics company?”

There is no argument that this is the top-ranked question asked by our clients nowadays. Before moving on to the answer, I should highlight that our clients are not by and large “social media-savvy". Rather, businesses across diverse sectors realize that social media plays an increasingly important part in quantifying consumer behavior and - perhaps most importantly to many of these individuals - forecasting product performance. I am pretty sure I will disappoint some social media analytics firms with my answer:
"There is no ideal analytics platform."
Honestly, it all comes down to:
  • What kind of business you have (i.e. agency side or client side/ small-medium-large)
  • What your goals are (i.e. monitoring in real time or performin  historical searches, identifying the momentum or using the searches to identify trends)
  • Most importantly, your budget
A plethora of analytics options exist at present. On top of the current offerings, an abundance of niche but innovative companies are popping up on a monthly basis, some of which receive rave reviews from social media analysts. Kairos Consumers has utilized the platforms of some of the leading social media analytics companies. Additionally, we have reviewed extensively the functionality of numerous other analytics providers. Our usage has truly run the gamut: we have worked with platforms that offer excellent word clouds, sophisticated search filtering, impressive coverage of multiple languages, 24/7 support, user friendly dashboards etc. In the end, we have impressed by a handful of these companies, with certain platforms simply falling short in terms of what was promised. Our experience to date could be measured in terms of three dimensions:
Factor 1: Translation of outputs
Undoubtedly there is a high level of difficulty when it comes to “translating” for our clients the quantitative outputs typical of social media analytics programs.
Our less-savvy non-social media savvy clients do not really like any of the outputs as generated by the analytics platforms. They want a “story” and none of the tools truly meet their needs for easy-to-understand outputs that correlate easily to insights they have from other types of research. In taking any outputs at face value, there exists an element of the unknown, the social media analytics could seemingly undermine existing data points, but in actuality, a thoughtful translation would explain the relationship between the two data sets. Secondly, we commonly hear “social media analysis is for the next generation”. Our clients realize the importance of quantifying social media but the entire methodology is quite intimidating and sometimes puts this area of research out of consideration unless a seasoned analyst is on hand to personally deal with the outputs. Personally, I do not blame them as in many cases consumers wear different hats when communicating in social media in the first place, not to mention across various channels within social media. Clients constantly need to be reminded that there we might deal with multiple personality disorders when it comes to social media communication.
Factor 2: High level of “noise”
Another difficulty encountered is the high level of “noise” that comes out of social media outputs. What is actually relevant, and how does one get there without extensive human filtering? Some analytics platforms do a better job than others when it comes to refining the outputs for what is actually relevant, but regardless, the “human factor” is a necessity if you require deep and trustworthy insights...but it can be an expensive necessity in the end. Unfortunately none of the companies we have leveraged and/or interviewed have provided a realistic idea regarding how much time and energy - not to mention expertise - will be required in order to eliminate the "noise". 
Factor 3: Client expectations at risk
Last but not least, it is important to manage the client’s expectations from start to finish. Social media listening is critical but should not substitute any other type of research such as market intelligence, consumer research, store observations etc. All of these tools are complementary as insights that assist in understanding consumer behavior, with each one depicting a different dimension. And for now, it seems, there is no perfect way to go about any of these approaches.
With social media analytics still in its relative infancy in terms of quantitative dependability, I must stress that transparency is best: for now, social media tracking is best viewed as a complementary exercise to other research endeavors. And having a clear idea of the types of insights to be gained will greatly narrow down the type of platform sought and the expectation of what those outputs will be.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 March 2013 13:28