The amount of data available to social media practitioners is staggering. Think about it for a second. If you visit a Facebook page you have created a data point. Clicking “like” on a post creates another data point. If you find an amazing piece of content and share it, you have created another data point. You can start to see the point, right? To not use data would be a crime because there is so much of it available. Of course, the amount of data is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because we can make smarter decisions with our budget, but it’s a curse because we have to do a significant amount of work to develop insights from that data.
Data availability isn’t a problem for social analytics professionals. In fact, it’s the reason most of us are employed. No, from my perspective there are three big issues facing social analytics professionals. They are:
- Scaling listening across a big enterprise – The importance of listening to social conversations is widely understood at this point. What isn’t as widely understood is how valuable that listening data is across the organization. While most listening efforts start in public relations and marketing, the data would likely be available to HR, sales, product development, strategic planning, etc… Unfortunately, setting up the infrastructure to funnel data to other parts of the organization is hard. When you’re talking about a large organization the process is even more difficult. However, social analytics professionals need to continue pushing that agenda forward. Right now, we’re only capitalizing on a small percentage of the data’s true value.
- Measuring social media – This is likely to be a problem for the foreseeable future as we look for a standard approach that all can implement. Don’t hold your breath. If we can learn anything from the debate over traditional media measurement it is that the chances of landing on a standardized approach is small. We are beginning to arrive at a set of best practices, but standardization isn’t likely any time soon.
- Bringing more rigor to influencer identification – At WCG we have built our own proprietary algorithm to measure influence. There are a number of other tools available on the marketplace that are loaded with challenges (you don’t need me to name them for you). The bottom line is that we need as much rigor as we can possibly manage when developing an influencer list. It’s no longer acceptable to download from a tool and engage. What shape that algorithm takes in the end is still to be determined, but analytics professionals need to be pushing, innovating and changing.
I had the opportunity this week to discuss these issues in more depth during a talk for Social Media Club Seattle. I’ve included the deck here in case you would like to see more of my point-of-view. What challenges are you seeing from an analytics perspective?