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The data game

Caroline SteerEven now, social media can be a bit of a hard sell to management. Managing social media in a meaningful way is becoming more involved and labour intensive and it is fairly common to have to justify this.

Measureing social media benefits imageThose unfamiliar with the subject might well ask what you get back from all your efforts. Are you selling houses directly from social media? Probably not. Are you getting your brand out there and connecting to local suppliers, potential buyers, sellers, pretty much for free? Absolutely.

As with any marketing activity, social media needs to be measured to prove its effectiveness. Fortunately, the free tools now available mean it is easy to measure what you are doing, gain practical insights into the effectiveness of your activities and improve performance: the data never lies!

Facebook lets you to see where you gained and lost fans, and benchmark your performance!

Whatever you want to get out of social media there will be a tool, graph or table that tells you what you need to know and how you can improve your results.

As social media becomes ever more entrenched in our lives social media platforms are becoming more sophisticated in terms of the data they can provide – whether it is measuring basic activity, showing effectiveness, or highlighting trends. So, to make sure you can make a compelling case for your social media strategy, here are my top tips for getting the most from your data.

1 Track your progress

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all have excellent analytics tools built into their platforms, which allow you to access data about follower growth, engagement levels, reach, audience, visitors and content. This is a great start for setting targets and goals so you can prove the value of your activity. You can even vary the dates to get a snapshot of a week, month or year.

Ever ahead of the curve, Facebook will even allow you to see if you’ve lost fans, where you gain them from, if you’ve had unpopular posts, and benchmark your performance on the last period of the same length of time (eg: year on year, etc).

Do not get too caught up on growing your fan base though; quality over quantity definitely applies here.

2 Learn about your audience

The real gem with insight tools is that they allow you to see who your audience is. Once you really get to know your audience you can strategically publish content that appeals to the people you want to target.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter will segment your audience by location, gender and language but all three provide different insights from then on in.

Facebook gives you a look at which groups have most engaged with your content and when most of them are online, down to the day of the week/time of day; a useful insight for getting more engagement and benchmarking your content.

Following a recent partnership with big data provider, Axiom, Twitter gives you even more audience data, breaking down their lifestyle interests, favourite TV genres and their mobile provider (should you need it!). This gives you the potential to tailor your content to suit them and increase your chances of interactions.

LinkedIn’s data focuses on career choices such as job function, seniority, industry and company size. The real golden nugget in here, however, is the instant comparison to your competitors it shows you. At the moment it simply compares numbers of followers but hopefully this insight will go even further in the future.

3 Evaluate your content

A really helpful tool on all three of the big platforms is the insight into your publishing/content activity.

Both Facebook and LinkedIn lists all posts published, the type of content, engagement rates and your reach. This is pretty useful for gauging what were your most popular posts and what your audience responds to.

If your audience is really perfect in terms of who you want to target (perhaps if you have previously done targeted advertising) then this is useful information as you can produce and publish more of the popular content types and subjects. However, if you are still finding your feet then it does not quite break it down enough.

Twitter goes a little further here: if you regularly use hashtags, you have already targeted your content so the same list is more valuable. It also pulls out your top tweets, mentions and pieces of content without you having to delve into the data. It will also tell you who your top follower of the month is: a user that could prove very valuable for interacting with! Do some digging into their feed and if your followers cross over in terms of interest and industry, then tailoring content to suit them could be a very smart move.

Caroline Steer is Digital Marketing Manager at property marketing communications agency, Oracle Group.

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