No matter the business, industry, institution or region of the world, we all can openly acknowledge that we all are a part of this new “social” era.

With that fact out of the way—we also know that it’s fairly simple to have social media posts “liked” by consumers or re-tweeted by fellow tweeters and potential customers. So long as your content offers the right mix of new ideas and engagement, users are happy to friend or favorite your brand while keeping a close eye on what’s next.
So, what’s the problem?

While most companies are playing the “social” card to be part of the bandwagon, a large majority of them are stuck in this vicious circle of a “friend zone,” meaning they are unable to go beyond the friendship mode and monetize their interactions or engagements with their customers in order to close sales. Even more importantly, they are unable to measure the effectiveness and ROI of their social media marketing efforts. So—is there a better way?

Missing Impact

According to a January 18th article from Forbes, measuring the impact of social media efforts remains a challenge for most businesses. Reporting on a recent CMO survey, Forbes pulls out some interesting details.

For example, only 15% of the surveyed marketers said they could quantitatively prove the impact of social media tactics. Why? In part because the most common metrics used to measure social efficacy—hits, visits or views—cater to brand awareness and do not predict purchasing habits.

A recent Business 2 Community piece, meanwhile, points to several reasons why social media analytics make it tough to measure ROI. Just like the Forbes article, B2C argues that companies are stuck using vanity metrics—data such as number of fans, re-tweets or likes—as the foundation for broader social impact. But while these numbers are easy to measure, they’re not representative of actual social sentiment.

In addition, companies often fall prey to inaccurate data since different analytics tools use different rules to return results. What’s more, social impact varies from site to site—what works on Facebook may fall flat on Twitter.

A Social Future

So how do companies fight their way out of the friend zone? It starts with the realization that social data is more about relationships between numbers than the numbers themselves.

Measuring “reach” or “impact” is nebulous at best, but if multiple tools show these metrics rising, it doesn’t matter if the numbers don’t match. Improving social media analytics also means tackling the problem of text messaging. This vast array of unstructured information is a goldmine—if companies can find an analytics partner that understands the nuances of text messaging and has the ability to translate human sentiment into hard data.

The road from social awareness to customer conversion starts with simple metrics but these only scratch the surface. Going deeper requires real commitment.

Next Steps:

  • Try Spotfire and start discovering meaningful insights in your own data.
  • Learn about Spotfire Content Analytics to see how the unstructured content from social media can be analyzed for deeper insights and greater value for your business.
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