I had never been the popular kid in school, however in high school I did find myself in a new circle of friends that I thought were pretty cool. The group was full of artists and writers and smart people. It was nice to belong to a group that I had so much in common with. The big social activity during the school day was lunch. My group had a couple of tables on one side of the large lunchroom that we meet in every day. On starting to join this circle for lunch right of the bat I found myself lost and confused. Each day at lunch one member of the group would out of the blue say, “Bang, Bang, Who’s Dead?” The rest of the group would look around at each other and try to figure out who just got wacked in this little game. I was at a loss, to be honest I don’t think I ever truly understood the game, however I did learn to play along and be part of the group. Social Media today is like this game, sometimes we understand were it is going and sometimes we are just along for the ride.
Social Media is an ever changing entity and the second you think you have it figured out it changes again. This constant change has led to some amazing social marketing campaigns and has also had digital marketers pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to best use social media. Social media can be especially challenging for the analytics. Questions like “What is Success in Social Media?” and how to integrate social media in web analytics tools have been difficult ones to answer in the past few years. That being said, many analytics tools have come along and are starting to give us a better view of this ever-morphing landscape. Google Analytics now has a different social matrix that is tracked and can be a great tool to get an idea of a campaign social impact and it’s free to boot. There are more and more analytics tools now offering social media reporting. In a post on eduGuru entitled “Top 5 Social Media Analytic Tools in 2013”, you can find reviews on what they think are the best tools available today. The point is analyzing social media effects is becoming easier every day–at least for being able to gather data. After that it is like any other data set and it all comes down to what insights you can glean from the data.
To truly understand what social media is doing you need to understand what it is to be social. It is just like the game my friends played at lunch in high school, I never understood the game so I was not the one to tell anyone else about the game or how it worked. Same goes in cyber space today if your analytic expert does not understand the social group then the data will be meaningless. To make sense of the data you need to understand the group. To excel is social analytics first learn to understand the nature of the group. You can’t always explain human behavior with numbers, but you can get to know people and be part of the group. Want my advice, make sure you have someone that is plugged into the social crowed as part of you analytics solution.