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How to make different sources of social media insight actionable

Author's avatar By Gavin Llewellyn 27 Jan, 2015
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Three ways in which we can use social media insight to take action to improve our marketing

As social media continues to evolve, so too has the amount of data and insight available to marketers. From the ongoing development of tools such as Google Analytics, Sysomos and Salesforce.com, to the progression of native tools such as Facebook Insights, Twitter and Pinterest Analytics, marketers now have a wealth of social insight to choose from.

But as with all types of web or digital analytics , it’s essential that in order to make good business decisions we must take actionable insight from the social data we have available. Gone are the days when we could rely on top-level descriptive metrics such as the number of Likes or followers accrued over time and be able to report on what has happened.

Leaders and management now demand insight that demonstrates how social media is adding value to the business and the metrics that shed light on what we should be doing next to create value.

Good key performance indicators (KPIs) help us understand why, when and where customers and prospects are buying, engaging and talking about the brand and provide us with the insight to improve performance.

In this post I’m going to outline three ways in which we can take social media insight and make marketing decisions and take action.

Align metrics with goals

Before going into the detail, from the outset it’s worth stressing the importance of aligning social media metrics with the overarching goals of the business.

As Chris Soames highlights in his post on how to ensure you track performance against target, we first have to be clear on the difference between goals, objectives and KPIs and then on how the goals, objectives and KPIs we choose tie in with what the business is ultimately looking to achieve.

By tracking and reporting on social media KPIs on a regular basis and aligning these with what the business is looking to achieve, we can build credibility and interest in the activity we’re doing and generate buy-in and support from the top down.

Goals-vs-Objectives pyramid

1. Improve customer satisfaction and community management

Rather than simply talking at audiences, social media has enabled brands to develop relationships with customers by participating in communities, whether that be on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or via blogs and forums.

Whilst it’s perfectly acceptable to promote and ‘push’ content via social media, there’s also a huge opportunity to ‘listen’ and respond to conversations about the brand using sentiment analysis.

Tools such as Google Alerts, Trackr and Social Mention, as well as more advanced solutions like Sysomos and Radian6, allow you to set up custom alerts for different mentions of your brand, products, industry and competition.

Monitoring mentions and conversations on the social web gives you the ability to improve customer service and satisfaction by:

  • Proactively responding to complaints
  • Identifying potential issues
  • Engage with followers and customers before problems escalate
  • Review consumer brand engagement
  • Identify new content opportunities

This video from Radian6 provides a good example of how a brand can take advantage of social listening by understanding semantic meaning and sentiment:

2. Build a demographic picture of your social audience

By using data from the sentiment analysis, you can begin to build a picture of who your social audience is made up of, particularly in terms of:

  • Age group
  • Location
  • Profession
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle

Ask yourself: does this align with who your perceived make-up of your target audience? And how do your audiences vary across different social platforms?

As another step in this process, it’s worth looking at tools such as Facebook Audience Insights to gather data about your current customers and/or fans as well as learn more about different groups of people on Facebook.

Using Facebook Audience Insights, you can begin to compare your audience to the typical Facebook user based on the following criteria:

Age and Gender

FB Insights - Age and Gender

Relationship Status and educational level

FB Insights - relationship status

Job Title

FB Insights - job title


FB Insights - location (Jon Loomer)


FB Insights - household (Jon Loomer) (1)


FB Insights - activity (Jon Loomer)

 * Location, Household and Activity are only available in the US

This type of data is highly actionable, as it allows you to begin refining your messaging and ad targeting by segmenting audiences based on:

  • Current Facebook fans
  • Customers
  • Your competitors’ fans

Aside from targeted advertising, this level of insight will also give you more confidence in who your audience actually composed of, enabling you to build much more targeted, relevant content (see next section below).

3. Generate content creation opportunities

Competitor social media benchmarking tools such as Socialcrawlytics and Buzzsumo can be used to analyse how your content is being shared online as well as evaluate how your competitors are performing.

The real value of this type of data is that it gives you great insight into what type of content you should be creating for different social networks. By taking a more analytical view of content creation, you’re more likely to produce content that meets customer needs and generates improved reach, engagement and lead-generation/ sales opportunities.

BuzzSumo enables marketers to take a snapshot analysis of a site’s content and how it is being shared across key social channels:


The examples above provide insight about not just what type of content is getting shared more widely but where it is proving to be most popular. It’s interesting to see that when comparing the two posts, the first one, which included an infographic, not only performed better on Pinterest but also LinkedIn. However, what is it about the second post that made it perform so strongly on Twitter?

Armed with this insight, marketers can begin to understand what content works most effectively on what social channels and as a result can begin crafting their content schedules based on what their audience is likely to want to consume rather than what they assume they want to read.

Author's avatar

By Gavin Llewellyn

Gavin Llewellyn (LinkedIn) is an independent consultant. He is a Chartered Marketer who specialises in digital marketing, specifically in social media, SEO and online strategy. Gavin blogs at One Too Many Mornings where he offers advice, guidance and ideas on how individuals and companies can use digital marketing effectively to get found online, build engagement and generate conversion. You can Follow Gavin on Twitter.

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