What Is Social Media Analytics & Why Is It Important?
Social media platforms offer brands a vast pool of consumers ripe for brand communication targeted toward relevant interests––but consumers resent interruptions. And this is particularly true when someone is trying to sell them something! So, this is where social analytics comes into play.
Many businesses adopt a brand-centric focus when starting their data analytics journey, which can be dangerous. And they are beginning to understand this: As of 2022, 92% of marketers in companies with more than 100 employees were expected to start using social media analytics tools to understand the landscape better.
We’ll break down just what this crucial business tool is; what it isn’t; why you need to use it; and how! We’ll cover these essential topics:
- How can you use social media analytics tools to grow your business? And why is it important?
- Comparing Social Media Analytics vs. Seemingly Similar Offerings
- The Quid Social Difference in Social Media Analytics Tools
- How to Approach Social Media Analysis Properly
- Social Media Benchmarks by Industry 2023
- Ten of the Best Social Media Analytics Tools in 2023
- What About Native Social Media Data Analytics Tools?
- Five Social Media Analytics FAQs
First, social media analytics isn’t about brands. It’s about people sharing their lives with others they know based on common interests. Social is a wonderful place for consumers and brands to connect, as long as they remember one thing: social media platforms may provide your brand’s first and last impression, so both must be good. Let’s explore!
How Can You Use Social Media Analytics Tools to Grow Your Business? And Why is it Important?
There are many avenues to explore via social analytics insights. It’s like peeling back an orange to discover the segmented fruit within.
The insights found through social analytics can inform every part of brand operations. Here are six examples:
Your customers are your brand’s lifeblood. Managing their journey from early awareness to established customers through social analytics is vital for retention and your brand’s long-term health.
Consistently engaging with your consumers is critical for boosting social presence and brand health, as is developing a track record of being there for them with fresh innovation when new needs arise.
Case in point, Disney continues to see their brand grow by delivering what they know its audience wants. By utilizing social media analytics tools, they can detect consumer trends and understand what their audience wants better than any other brand.
And it’s not just for retail or entertainment companies. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center uses social analytics to become more proactive in its audience analysis, finding unmet needs, trends, and sentiments around healthcare workers.
A brand is the collective whole of all the touchpoints and interactions consumers have with a brand, including the messaging from the company.
Ultimately, the consumer holds the keys to brand perception, with brands constantly striving to influence positive consumer sentiment. Brand perception affects many things, with the most significant impact being your balance sheet.
Innovative brands focus on keeping consumers happy.
Like Spotify. That may be why they made the Global Love List of 2023. In 2022, they received a whopping 80% of all branded, non-news-related social media channels and forum posts compared to competitors. Both artists and listeners respect it. Artists appreciate Spotify’s capacity to create an audience and the visibility it brings. And listeners believe there is nothing else like Spotify to help them get through life, and they’re tuned in because Spotify understands their preferences. Spotify is paying attention—and their calculated moves (like advertising their artists in Time Square and paying attention to customer wants) are winning brand love and health.
It’s quick and focused action like this that captures consumer love every time.
Customer care takes dedicated attention; these days, customer care is an ‘always on’ situation. Consumers have no hesitation reaching out to brands when issues arise, and they expect answers.
Consumers know that brands have data on them, and they expect companies to use it to build and deepen relationships.
Consistent social media monitoring helps brands put the puzzle pieces of consumer needs together to inform innovations to address frequent issues most cost-effectively.
For example, Delta had clear skies amid humiliating holiday meltdowns affecting most airlines. Delta worked hard to improve customer service by adding additional facilities at LAX and updating its in-flight food and beverage services. Fliers praised the airline for its dependability and quality of service at a time when air travel was unreliable and plagued by poor service. We can bet they had the help of a reliable social analytics tool to guide their decision-making.
Social media analytics tools help brands get in on emerging trends by informing them about products and services that consumers want. Additionally, the actionable insights produced help pinpoint market opportunities, thereby minimizing risks to ensure your product launch succeeds.
For instance, the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign reframed their product as a sports recovery drink and employed NFL star Derrick Henry to promote that message: the brand also collaborated with online creators on Twitter for National Milk Day. They displayed their favorite milk-based delicacies with a clever shirt design.
Since revamping its messaging and employing influencer marketing on Twitter, the #GotMilk campaign has received over 81.4 million Trend Takeover impressions, with the Video View Rate performing 29% higher than Twitter’s benchmark. You can find more examples in our 2023 Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing.
Social analytics allows brands to learn what their audience cares about and what influences their purchasing decisions.
These audience insights allow marketing departments to craft more personalized and relevant experiences, boosting social presence. The opportunities here for brands are enormous, with the additional benefit of real-time feedback allowing for adjustment mid-campaign.
How brands put their social analytics intel to work is only limited by creativity. By creating thoughtful and engaging marketing initiatives, brands can build the emotional customer connections that boost campaign performance – ask Taco Bell. The company boosted its audience reach and resonance by speaking to consumers in their vernacular to provide information about the ordering app–increasing app downloads, and effectively developing new business and revenue growth while better addressing today’s younger, mobile-first consumer habits and wants.
The insight social monitoring offers brands when a crisis hit is worth the price of admission alone, as it saves both cost and reputational damage from the reaction speed.
An unhappy customer won’t talk to you about it, but they will tell 15 friends about their experience. With everyone online these days, those 15 people can turn into hundreds and thousands in a short time.
The severity of the crisis and the length of time it languishes unmitigated, or worse unseen, can bring critical consequences to brands that can linger for years. Their sudden nature points to the necessity of social analytics in helping to round out your crisis management response protocols and keep your social media managers informed.
An older yet still relevant example is Nike. In 2020, when Zion Williamson blew out one of his Nike’s in the Duke-UNC game on national television, it stood to shake up Nike if they didn’t get ahead of the online narrative fast. Everybody saw it in real-time, and they took to social media channels like wildfire. Luckily, Nike got in front of it quickly and successfully steered the conversation.
Also, check out how James Madison University uses Social Monitoring to understand public misperception and gauge when, if, and how to respond to potential crises – amongst other things.
Having social media analytics reporting tools is excellent; just be sure to vet your provider carefully. Sometimes tools are labeled similarly and may lead you to believe that they’re social media analytics tools when, in fact, they aren’t.
Social Media Analytics vs. Seemingly Similar Offerings
If social analytics is a destination, what tools contribute to the journey? And what are their distinctions? Each of these analytics tools contributes to a winning brand. They are:
- Social Media Intelligence
- Social Media Listening
- Social Media Monitoring
- Social Competitive Analysis
- Image Analytics
Now, let’s explore each of these in turn. We’ll begin with social analytics closest cousin.
Social intelligence represents the stack of technology solutions and methods used to monitor conversations and emerging trends via social media.
This intelligence is then analyzed and used to create meaningful content and make business decisions across many disciplines.
This is one of the terms most often confused with social analytics—but it applies to one specific aspect of social media analytics: Learning about your audience.
The goal here is to uncover what they love, hate, and love to hate – as opposed to any assumptions you may have. It’s about getting to know them as people, not just prospects.
For instance, if you want to know what people in Boston have to say about pizza on social media channels, you can find out using social analytics. From there, you can look for other common ground to create audience segments to improve your interactions.
This is the second term most often confused for social media analytics.
Social media monitoring focuses on following social audiences to be alerted to spikes in activity that present either an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss:
"I wish ulta would sell rare beauty"
— (@dianamarie622) March 12, 2023
Or a potential disaster you want to avoid. It’s about seeing posts where your social media audience calls out brands with their wants, needs, loves and hates. Monitoring these narratives on social media allows brands to respond promptly and avoid a viral crisis.
This is the process of investigating competitors of your brand and their audience. Because social media channels are such a transparent medium, brands can apply social media analytics tools to companies beyond their own.
This gives you the advantage of seeing how they serve their customers, what consumers love or hate about them, and what new products or services they offer.
This information lets you see what your shared social media audience gets excited about, so you can capitalize on fresh ideas you might never have had. Additionally, learning from competitors’ mistakes can save the day when things go wrong, and they protect your budget.
And as consumer attitudes are never static, brands can also monitor how other brands handle the social climate to adjust if things are hitting close to home. Take inclusive marketing as an example. It is now in the driver’s seat, but it hasn’t always been that way.
In the 70's a major beverage brand paved the way by incorporating diversity and different nationalities in their marketing. And inclusive marketing has grown since then, and perhaps most in the last couple of years, with more brands taking notice and following the examples of successful brands incorporating inclusive messaging in their ads—like LEGO’s campaign, which celebrates inclusivity, creativity, and self-expression:
This is a relatively new feature made possible by the evolution of social analytics technology. Image analytics levels up text analysis by identifying scenes, facial expressions, geographical locations, brand logos, and more in social images. This is especially useful when a brand is pictured, but not explicitly mentioned in the text.
As social users become increasingly visual, the inability to perform image analytics becomes a deal-breaker when researching social media analytics tools. If you’re social media analytics tools aren’t picking up images where your brand is pictured, but not explicitly mentioned, then you’re missing out on a lot of the conversation.
And to ensure you’re not missing a thing, it needs to capture not only full logos but altered, partial, or reversed brand mentions – like the reversed and very tiny Ulta brand logo below.
Social Media Sentiment Analysis
Purchase decisions are made emotionally – 95% of all purchase decisions are made with emotion. And this shows how much emotion and sentiment affect your campaign’s performance. Social sentiment is the tie-in that applies to all facets of your social analytics. Without it, you don’t have any way of gauging why you’ve suddenly got 500K more “likes” or shares than usual. What if an uptick in activity isn’t a good thing? The only way to know is through sentiment analysis.
This layer of social media analytics uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand whether social conversations are positive or negative and to measure the strength of those emotions. It ties social media performance and feedback with clear visuals that help you triage responses so you don’t waste energy on posts that don’t matter while ignoring posts that do.
Customer Experience Analytics combines social listening and audience insights with Voice of the Customer (VoC) verbatims like surveys, reviews, website feedback, chat messages, market research, and data from internal systems like a call center, help center, and web support collected via CRM tools.
This additional data can be brought into your social media analytics to understand your customers across all touchpoints comprehensively.
And speaking of understanding consumers, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren’t. And Quid Social is a social media analytics tool that excels in helping brands better understand their audience.
Quid Social Ups the Ante in Social Media Analytics
Quid Social melds seamlessly with your Quid social media analysis and spreads it like a map, offering contextualized social audience insights at a glance. In other words, it’s your social media topic – visualized.
This symbiotic relationship is great because using disparate data analysis tools or sources is an unnecessary headache you don’t have to deal with in gaining actionable intelligence from your data.
If your analytics tools are clunky, cumbersome, or tiring, chances are you’ll miss something in the gaps between analytics tools or from sheer frustration. Quid Social solves the problems that users face when stitching their social media analysis together from disconnected sources by offering a one-and-done solution. In other words, it’s a next-level social media analytics tool that synthesizes your data to establish a cohesive and easily understandable window into the online narrative.
Like Quid Pro allows users to parse company, patent, or news and blog datasets, Quid Social uses the same interface to deep dive into any social media topic to extract insights from the returned data to inform your brand’s decision-makers.
Quid accomplishes this through next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) driven social media datasets that provide a 360-degree contextualized view of the social narrative on any topic. And no matter how niche your topic may be, someone is out there talking about it online. Quid Social mines the depths of all major social media platforms, consumer reviews, forums, and much more – ensuring you capture it all.
And not having to transfer your data from one tool to another saves time and energy, which translates directly to your bottom line. It also offers in-depth social coverage that enables Quid users to make smarter, faster, data-driven decisions for their business, bypassing the bloat of traditional social media analytic tools.
Quid Social allows users not only to analyze social conversations but discover:
- Emerging trends and themes
- Parse out key opinion leader (KOL) narratives
- Analyze and monitor competitors
- Evaluate social media influencer performance
And this is to name a few. The insights gained in these areas can boost your balance sheet through the speed at which brands can make strategic business decisions and enhance their social media marketing strategy. Brands can pivot to avoid pitfalls, spot market white space, and stay ahead of the competition.
Additionally, Quid Social visualizes the main drivers of social conversations allowing you to see the interconnectivity between adjacent social sub-conversations. Visualizing the online narratives will enable users to quickly understand the angle from which target audiences discuss a topic or issue:
Since one of the underlying principles of social media analysis is to discover and meet consumer needs, this ability to see emergent conversations in response to social or market stimuli allows brands to move quickly and grow their share of voice before other brands have had a chance to make a move.
And all of this serves the additional bonus of growing positive brand perception within the social media channels coverage. They say that the early bird gets the worm, which applies here, as first-movers can design, deploy and steer the narrative. At that point, the competition is playing catch-up.
Meeting the needs of consumers translates directly to positive social sentiment built on consumer love. And since people love to share their brand experiences on social media channels, brands can directly track these changes as they apply to their own social media metrics and how they relate to the competition.
Quid Social analytics tool facilitates not only real-time analyses on any topic but also the ability to:
- Continually monitor brand-relevant conversations, which gives brands further intel into where their messaging needs to be tweaked to have the most positive impact.
- Quickly evaluate your campaign messaging to see what’s resonating and what’s not. At the speed of social these days, the ability to monitor, adjust and implement your brand messaging on the fly is a game-changer for your social media marketers.
- To identify competitive areas of focus for innovation and R&D.
- Offer keen intel into how consumers feel or react to market trends, innovations, and competitive products relevant to your industry.
Quid Social analytics tool also covers the width and depth of any topic with social media coverage that spans over 200 countries, mining major and minor social media channels for 27 months of history and data in the future. It’s comprehensive social media coverage for historical and real-time analysis that digs into any online conversation – whenever and wherever you need it to.
Below are a few of the social media insights and analytic functionality found in Quid Social:
- Powerful network visualizations to discover emerging trends, topics, and patterns in data
- Scatterplot, bar graph, histograph, and timeline views
- Optimized clustering for short text with auto-naming and summaries of clusters
- Document and aspect-level sentiments
- People, company, and location entity feedback
- Social engagement counts
- Author and demographic information
- Extensive filter and tagging capabilities
- Color-by options for customized data visualization
- Customizable x/y axis parameters for comprehensive graphing insights
Simply put, how your brand can twist, extract and display your social media topics are exhaustive and present a uniquely visual approach to social media analytics.
But mining the social media conversation for market, competitive, and consumer intelligence is still only half the battle. What you do with that information takes you the rest of the way.
Approach Social Media Analytics Properly
The best investment you can make is in social media analytics tools that bring all the above functionality into one place. It gives you a peek behind the curtain – and you’re smart to make it about looking and listening and learning, not pushing your agenda.
Think of it as having a VIP ticket to a show – it doesn’t get you on stage singing with the stars unless you build a relationship with them over time. Once they realize you care enough to attend every show, you might get pulled up to join them.
This is the best way to inspire engagement between your brand and audience.
Starbucks offers a great example here. Their marketing has been customer focused since the beginning, and they pay attention to what their consumers want. They knew their audience had become more health conscience through the pandemic, a trend which continued post-pandemic with their younger audience. That led to Starbucks’ vitamin C-infused energy drink, Baya. Using influencer marketing, they hired actor, singer, and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Jordan Fisher to lead The Energy Makers Lab. Members of the Lab are known for their “feel-good” content, which corresponds to the message of the new energy drink:
Additionally, the team teamed with Energy BBDO to create the “Energy That’s Good” creative campaign to introduce the Starbucks BAYA Energy drink. The ad promoted the feel-good energy of Starbucks’ new drink and is inspired by the realization that when you are full of incredible energy, it shows in everything you do.
That’s how you make friends on social media.
Social media benchmarks by industry in 2023
A social media benchmark is an average result that social media managers use to evaluate other organizations in the same industry or class. The benchmark is ultimately what defines social media marketing success. Consider it the social media performance benchmark that all businesses in each category should seek to meet or exceed.
Social media benchmarks are essential because they provide context for your social media KPIs. Tracking your personal social media analytics and development over time with analytics tools offers worth even in isolation. When you put that data in the context of the larger industry picture, you can more clearly identify areas where there are real chances for change.
Benchmarks can also be used to define realistic target expectations. Some industries (such as entertainment) will naturally reach more than others. When you understand what is “normal” in your market, you can create sensible goals to help you accomplish actual growth without exhausting your social team.
Manually creating accurate social media benchmarks by industry is often time-consuming and challenging. And it wastes valuable time and effort that brands could best use elsewhere.
Fortunately, there are smart solutions available, such as Rival IQ, that save your company time. And these time-savers include built-in social media benchmarking tools that allow you to compare the performance of your social accounts to the average of businesses in your industry with only a few clicks.
At the very least, your social media management tool should include the ability to track the following:
Page/profile impressions: The number of times your ad, post, or video is seen by your audiences. This quantity is not the same as reach. The number of accounts that see your content is referred to as reach. Because one account may watch your material several times, impressions are usually higher.
Audience growth rate: This measures how your audience is expanding (or declining) as a percentage of your existing followers rather than a simple count of new followers.
Post engagement rate: Total engagements (likes, comments, saves, and shares) divided by the total audience, given as a percentage.
Posting frequency: The number of posts shared on average each day.
When combined, these benchmarks offer you a solid idea of how your social accounts compare to the competition in terms of output and performance. Basic social media analytics tools will usually include these metrics. But more sophisticated analytics tools will go beyond and offer metrics like sentiment analysis, emerging trend analysis, personal narratives, and much more.
Now that you know what to look for, here are analytics tools to consider for your social media marketing strategy in 2023 and beyond, from basic to more comprehensive.
Ten of The Best Social Media Analysis Tools in 2023
Of course, you need the right tools if you plan on not only making friends but powering your brand operations and tracking social media campaigns and performance
Many tools offer some of the features we’ve discussed, and if you’re on a budget, starting there is better than ignoring social media analytics altogether. Here are ten analytics tools your social media management team should consider having on your side:
What About Native Social Media Data Analysis Tools?
Native tools have their place when you’re starting a small business. But as you grow, you’ll get dizzy from logging in and out of various social media accounts to view the native analytics available within each app. And then you have to keep track of any changes the social platform may make–for example, when Facebook discontinued their standalone analytics tool. Using numerous built-in tools is cumbersome and time-consuming, especially when you track social media campaigns. The constant back and forth leads to decreased productivity and poor outcomes.
On top of switching between different apps, the analytics offered are usually fundamental—offering metrics like reach, likes, and impressions. These metrics are essential, but a more comprehensive tool can reveal much more, such as trending hashtags and topics. It can show demographics beyond gender, geo-location, and age. It can reveal psychographic intel such as interests and professions.
Additionally, without a tool that can go behind the scenes and surface insights that reveal why your last post fell flat or skyrocketed, you’re just playing a guessing game on what content to create and post.
Native social media data is valuable for a quick reference, but your tool should grow with you as you grow and provide more detailed data to help you maximize your social media presence.
Five Social Media Analysis FAQS
Social media analytics is the ability to gather and interpret data from social channels to support business choices — and to analyze the performance of actions taken due to those decisions — via social media and social media tools.
Social media tools enable social media professionals to build social media analytics reports to share with their marketing teams, stakeholders, and supervisor to determine what is and is not working within your social media performance. They should additionally provide asocial media teams with the historical data you require to evaluate your social media marketing plan and social strategy on both macro and micro levels.
This will depend on your goals and what you need the social media analytics tools for. Three steps for helping decide which tool is best are:
Identify your audience. Who are they? How old are they? What is their income and educational level? What are their interests?
Define Your company’s goals. Although your primary goal will most likely be to increase sales by drawing customers, there are other creative goals for social media. While some brands use social media to increase brand awareness and build positive relationships with potential customers, others utilize it for customer assistance. When developing your social media objectives, list common and uncommon ways social media could benefit your brand.
Locate your audience. Are they on Facebook or Twitter? Or maybe they are spread out between 5 or 6 apps. It’s critical to know where your audience is, as you don’t want to waste time advertising to TikTok if your consumers are on Instagram. Once you know where they are, you can use these criteria to find the right social analytics tool that incorporates these social channels.
Share your results. Keep your social media managers, marketing teams, key investors, partners, and more on the same page by sharing the data. Social media tools that can create reports and share across the board are necessary.
The best social media analytics provide social media professionals and businesses with information about their brands and what their competitors are doing. This social media tool gives companies a greater understanding of their consumers’ issues with their products and services, how their customers utilize them, and their overall perception of the organization.
Most social media networks have free social tracking features built in. However, using a social media management platform solution like Quid® is the simplest method to track social media analytics such as social statistics, social media campaign performance, and more from various accounts and networks in one location.
The more data you access, the better your understanding of your audience and the better you can serve them as they wish to be served. That’s what brings them back for more. And that’s what social media analytics does for brands.
Ready to see our suite of social media analytics tools in action? Get in touch for a customized demo!