Every second there are 6,000 tweets, 1,539 Tumblr posts and 919 Instagram photos published online, according to Internet Live Stats. There is an enormous amount of data and insights which can be drawn from the ever-increasing social media content online using methods such as social listening, brand monitoring, audience intelligence, trends research and competitor analysis. However, the question that can often be overlooked when conducting this research is ‘how can social media data analysis be used to inform business decisions?’

3 in 4 marketers agree that “capturing and applying data to inform and drive marketing activities is the new reality”, but ‘applying’ the data is perhaps harder than simply ‘capturing it’. Here are the questions you should consider when applying social data findings to real-life scenarios to inform business decisions.

1. Are you using all the tools available to you for social media data analysis?

There is a host of free resources available natively on social media platforms which you can make use of to conduct social media analysis. Although these may require more time to gather insights than paid-for tools, these are very helpful to do topline audience and content analysis:

• Facebook Insights
• Facebook Audience Insights
• Twitter Analytics
• LinkedIn Insights
• Instagram Insights

Doing manual research into private groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is also a valuable method of gaining insight which otherwise is not available using tools. Google Trends, YouGov and Answer the Public are also free resources which you can use to gather information about your brand and industry.

Tools such as Buzzsumo, Meltwater, Brandwatch, Mention, Hootsuite and Sprout Social are also extremely beneficial when conducting social media analysis, as the insight they offer is so valuable. Audience intelligence and social listening platforms also provide a granular level of detail but usually at a higher cost than the social media management tools, for example, Pulsar, Audiense and Hexagon.

2. What questions are you looking to answer using social media data analysis?

The best place to start when conducting social media analysis is with the questions you want to answer with your research. Having these in mind when analysing makes the data far more applicable, as you won’t just be looking at an increase in comments, for example, but questioning why is happening and whether you should inform the product team about a surge in feedback.

At this stage, it’s really important to keep an unbiased perspective and not look for the answers and insights that you want to or expect to see.
Some examples of questions you consider when conducting social media data analysis are:

• When should we publish blogs/articles/news?
• Are there product or service improvements that could be made?
• Is your website user-friendly?
• Are there similar trends across activity and performance?
• Are there other channels you could be using?
• Is there a clear tone of voice?
• Are there consistently followed brand guidelines?
• Are there clear objectives per channel?
• Is your target audience defined?

3. What activity can social media data analysis inform for your business?

Social media data analysis can form insight for almost all business areas, from aligning your SEO and content strategy to product development and updates.
A common example could be community management on socials, where if you see recurring negative comments about the booking functionality on your website, it would be important to pass on this feedback to the web team to ensure they are aware and can make the necessary changes.

Social media analysis can also inform:

• Messaging strategy
• Tone of voice
• Public relations
• Web design, UX & copy
• Persona development
• Blog and content calendar
• Customer journey
• Digital landscape analysis
• Digital out of home advertising
• Product/service opportunities and updates
• Media budget planning
• Customer relations
• Community management

In summary, using social media analysis to inform decisions results in fewer wasted time and resources, an integrated marketing strategy, more informed media spend, relevant content being produced and a better understanding of your target audience.

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