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The Future of Social Analytics

Susan Etlinger (@setlinger), one of the most educated voices on social measurement, delivered the slides below at Adobe during Social Media Week 2012.

In short, I think that she nailed it. Her storyline accurately describes where social metrics is today and where it must go.


Here are my overall takeaways from her excellent presentation:


1. Account Proliferation is a Major Enterprise Challenge

Large enterprises now average over 170 different types of social and digital accounts. The good news is that business have embraced these new mediums–the bad news is that they have no idea how to manage or control this proliferation.


Proliferation is a difficult topic because there are clear benefits to a single voice but there are also benefits to engaging with niche communities via niche accounts. In my own experience, we delicately balance account creation by encouraging groups to first identify the goals of their accounts. This step often forces a marketer to make the key choice: create an account or leverage those that already exist.


2. Social Metrics Must Align to Business Metrics

Social ROI does not exist–nor do I believe that it will anytime soon. Regardless, organizations must begin to create three levels of metrics in my opinion.



Level 1: Social Counting Metrics

Social metrics are the easily collected data points–comments, likes, shares, views, etc. These are the least valuable but they must be aggregrated and tracked in order to move on to the two higher levels. I personally recommend Social Report as an affordable and comprehensive tool to do so. It aggregrates data from Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, and all of the usual suspects.

Level 2: Advanced Social KPIs

Social KPIs modify low-level social data into data points that are closer to real insight–metrics like reach, velocity, interaction rate, and others. These are all built on counting metrics but allow us to draw additional insight. These metrics start to allow marketers to take real action based on the data trends.

Level 3: Social Business Metrics

Susan makes an excellent point that social must start to align with broader marketing and business objectives. Social conversions, service issues resolved, and other metrics begin to take social interaction and align it with bottom-line activity. This must expand and become a pervasive part of each social team’s overall strategy. Call it what you will–Social Sales, Social CRM, Social Monetization–by any name it involves connecting social to the greater business.


3. The Era of Soft Marketing Is Over

I am exaggerating to drive the point home–but a big part of me believes this. The era of doing social marketing for the warm-and-fuzzies is over. Like all good marketers, social marketers must now make decisions based on strong data.

Furthermore, all marketers are now data scientists. A social measurement lead should set the agenda by implementing the strategy and teaching users the tools–but each marketer must take responsibility for understanding and employing this data.


Susan’s Two (Excellent!) Presentations:


Why CRM Planning is Broken

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have been around for years and they offer unparalleled process automation. But…planning for them is broken.

Why/how are they broken?

Simple: We think of the system, not the customer. When planning for the next update to any organization’s CRM systems, we must think of what we want to know about our customers and not what the system will allow us to collect.


What do we really want to know about your customers?

My list, to start the conversation:

  • Comments about:
    • Us
    • Our competitors
    • Our products
    • Our industry
  • Engagement
    • Web paths
    • Clicks
    • Content interest
  • Impact of social impression
    • Correlations
    • Causation
    • Better statistical analysis in general
  • Influence
    • The grey ghost, I know, but I still want it

What do you want to know about your customers/prospects/audience members? Leave a note in the comments section or let me know @TylerAltrup.