At a Glance: Key Metrics of Social Media Analytics

April 26, 2011
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If you are new to social media monitoring it can sometimes be overwhelming to know where to begin, what conversations to analyze, which platform(s) to monitor or which set of metrics are critical to understanding your social customer. In many ways, you can scratch the “new to social media monitoring” bit because I think as tools evolve and adapt and how people use them changes so does how you analyze the output.

If you are new to social media monitoring it can sometimes be overwhelming to know where to begin, what conversations to analyze, which platform(s) to monitor or which set of metrics are critical to understanding your social customer. In many ways, you can scratch the “new to social media monitoring” bit because I think as tools evolve and adapt and how people use them changes so does how you analyze the output. Having a clear understanding of how you can filter and hone in on social media information can help you not only determine what to track but help you modify your approach when priorities change.

I was talking to a couple of our market researchers here at CI and asked them to identify the top two or three social media metrics they think are most critical for deriving consumer insights. They came up with three, which happened to all begin with the letter “T”:

  • Themes
  • Theme Trending
  • Terms

And then I asked them, “Why, these three?”

Themes

Themes are clusters of like-conversations. Regardless of whether your analysis contains 1, 5 or 10K messages, each conversation is grouped so you can quickly scan to see the most active discussions and the most relevant.  Themes located to the right are more on-topic than those clustered to the left. This gives you a great overview of active discussions and  emerging topics, which may point to potential issues or opportunities.

Click image to enlarge

This theme cluster is from an analysis I did of barefoot running, which I have not tried myself but I live in Boulder where everyone else has. From the image above, you can quickly tell that the larger clusters to the right include conversations related to the theme “run”  or “foot” . The smaller clusters to the left include emerging themes around “sprint” or “story”. Clicking on any of the bubbles displays the included conversations.

Theme Trending

The visual representation of themes above is great for seeing the larger context of how your product, service or campaign may be talked about or how it is associated with other ideas or topics. Adding a time-based perspective to themes allows you to see how ideas emerge, bifurcate and fade over time. It’s one way to validate and understand those clusters of themes you see on the left:

  • when did they emerge?
  • is it in relation to a release?
  • or to something external of the organization?
  • should you be concerned?

You can also follow the evolution of on-topic conversations:

  • when did the most of the conversations take place?
  • can you map the high volume to a campaign or other outreach effort?

Click image to enlarge

Plotting themes to a time-frame allows you to view how conversations evolve, gain traction, fade or abruptly end. In my example, you can see how the band “foot” in the first week split into the three separate themes of “knee” “line” “foot”  the second week, only to come together in the third week in the band “toe”, only to bifurcate in the final week to “toe” and “feel”. Tracking that evolution and mapping it to your organization’s outreach efforts can help you gain a better understanding of the impact not only of your digital efforts but more traditional outreach programs.

Terms

Terms in many ways reflect the voice of the customer in all its authentic glory. Terms express how a consumer describes your service, product, or campaign. If your organization is struggling with messaging, SEO, or is concerned about perception knowing the actual words used by your consumer can give you ideas on how best best to describe your offering, identify critical words for your SEO effort or ensure that the direction of your organization aligns with your consumer’s perception.

Click to enlarge

In my example, I looked at the terms associated with Vibram, the shoe I think are most often associated with getting started with barefoot running.  And according to the “Desciptor” list of terms to the right, I’m right about the association between the words “barefoot” and “vibram”.  I was surprised to see the word “cheap” so I clicked on one of the occurrences to see the message that described Vibrams as cheap and noticed a couple of postings about a sale for men’s Vibrams going on.  You can also view the top terms associated with “Action” and “Things”, which are also ranked according to the number of times they occur near the term “Vibram”. In the example above, the top “Descriptor” terms are:

  • barefoot
  • minimalist
  • cheap
  • great
  • good

Obviously, there may be other critical social insights your organization may need for an integrated marketing effort or Social CRM project but establishing a baseline of understanding of mature and emerging conversations, how those conversation evolve over time and the language used in those conversations to describe an offering, campaign or outreach effort is a good starting point. And it is reasonable to guess that those metrics will not begin with the letter “T”.