How would you define social media analytics?
Social media analytics refers to the practice of using a variety of data and metrics to analyze what’s taking place on social media. In many cases, social media analytics also covers analysis of online media channels such as news websites, blogs and forums.

How does social media analytics work?
Social media analytics platforms use crawlers (in a similar way to Google conducting a search) to first collect public information from across the internet. The most common system would be for the user of the platform to enter a search query, which the platform will then use to find every instance of this query across the internet. This usually includes social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook but also news websites, blogs, forum, and review sites. Some platforms will also allow for integration with gated databases such as online academic journals or even databases of offline content depending on the restrictions or partnerships the platform has.

More advanced platforms such as Talkwalker, can analyze images shared online. This usually involves artificial intelligence that’s capable of recognizing brand logos for example, within an image. You can read more about this subject in our report on image recognition and social media analytics.

Once the crawlers have collected the information, the next step is organization.

The information can be categorized using a variety of different filters such as media types, country of origin, language, sentiment, content type, and more. It’s at this stage that the information starts to become useful as you now have a means of understanding where mentions of your brand are coming from, the sentiment behind, and when they peaked.

Next is the analytics. Once the information has been collected and filtered a wide variety of data visualizations are used to help users of the platform process the information.

These are a few of the key analytics/metrics available but you can find more detailed information in our comprehensive social data metrics guide.

Finally, to get maximum value out of social media analytics it can be correlated with other business metrics including website conversion, sales figures, polling numbers, depending on how you plan to use this data.

2. Why Should I use Social Media Analytics?
Essentially, without accurate social media analytics, it’s a struggle to fully understand what’s being said about your brand, products/services and industry online, and accurately tracking the performance of marketing and PR initiatives will be difficult. Social media analytics also gives you as a brand, access to what amounts to the world’s largest focus group – the social media and online public – constantly discussing and commenting on new products, TV shows, bad customer service – the list goes on and on. These insights can be collected and analyzed in real-time, meaning you can react quickly to new trends and potential risks.

Here are a few specific things that make social media analytics platforms stand out:

To understand your own social media activity on one channel, Twitter analytics, Facebook analytics and other platforms’ inbuilt analytics tools are usually enough. However, to see how your brand or how a trend is being received and discussed across the internet (and across the world) you need a social media analytics platform.
Another key element is being able to monitor the activity of your competitors. Most channel-specific analytics platforms will only allow you to look at data about your own account. Social media analytics platforms allow you to compare performance against your competition and benchmark.

Platforms that offer image recognition technology give you a way to understand how brand assets like your logo are being used online. Up to 80% of images online featuring a brand logo don’t mention the brand name in the text, image recognition is the only way of getting a clear picture of your brand visibility in photos and images.
image recognition user generated content

3. How Should I use Social Media Analytics?
There are several ways social media analytics can be used, depending on what you want to track and measure. Here are some of the most common ways businesses and other organizations are currently using social media analytics.

  • Monitoring and analyzing online reputation
  • Analyzing and optimizing performance of social media initiatives (e.g. marketing campaigns)
  • Researching trends for market research purposes
  • Identifying key touch points along the customer journey

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the key metrics:

Mentions – How often a particular word, phrase or sentence is mentioned across social media and online.
Engagement – How much engagement a post or a post surrounding a particular keyword receives ((retweets/likes on Twitter, likes/shares/comments on Facebook, likes/comments on Instagram, shares of news and blog articles on social media).
Sentiment – Sentiment towards your brand, industry, social page, or competitors.
Virality – The speed at which a post is being shared and how it’s spreading online.
Visual mentions – The number of times brand logos appear in images and photos posted online and on social.
Share of Voice – The proportion of discussion online about your brand, a trend or topics compared to similar topics.
share of voice customer complaints airlines social media