It should be an undeniable fact that your best tool for social analytics is yourself. It’s important that you see the “value in understanding motivations, trends, and behavior of the people that should matter most“. You must be present and engaged in your own social media. You can learn an enormous amount of information about your audience just by combing through the conversations. Many of the analytics tools that are available can help you sort out the relevant information but without a basic understanding of how your audience uses social media, it could be very difficult to know how or where to start. If your intention is to create a social media marketing plan for another company, social media will help you to see the trend in their particular industry. Without knowing anything about their industry, it can be challenging to know how to come up with a successful marketing strategy. A tool like SocialEars can help you to weed through the noise to find important articles that are relevant to the company you are researching. SocialEars offers great analytics but it’s more appropriate for larger social media marketing companies.
When trying to identify the best tools for a small business or individual social media marketer, price and function are most important to consider. HootSuite is great if you need to manage multiple accounts and profiles but it lacks the ability to give robust Analytics. If you need better analytics, you could go with Sprout Social, which integrates with Google Analytics. Because you can manage nearly all of your social media accounts with Sprout Social, aside from Google Plus, it would be best to combine it with a tool that will allow you to incorporate Google Plus (like HootSuite).
“Google Analytics introduced a new Social report suite in March 2012. This makes it much easier to evaluate the contribution of traffic from social media domains and sharing of content from your site on social networks.”
ViralHeat and SimplyMeasured give you a look at a variety of reports for multiple channels. There are many channel-specific tools that your should consider if you A) concentrate only/heavily on one particular channel, or B) need to fill in the gap from another tool you’re using that lacks a particular channel.
As I stated before, price is most likely one of your biggest concerns when considering appropriate analytics tools for your small business. This infographic shows a great list of free tools that you can investigate further.
Using some of the tools listed above is a great start but they might not give you the full picture for what you need in your analytics. For example, you can see that you might be getting a lot of traffic from various channels but you wouldn’t know exactly which links are bringing in the traffic. Tweeterspy, listed above does allow for tracking links shared to Twitter but there are many other tools that allow you to track any links shared out on social media. My favorite is Bit.ly because it serves another purpose. I like to use it as a link shortener when I’m posting long links on Twitter. Once you create a Bit.ly profile, you can shorten and track your links. HootSuite offers the same ability through Ow.ly.
As you see, it can take a bit of research to paint a complete social analytics picture for your company, or companies for which you manage social media. After considering your needs and evaluating the available options, you should be able to find the right combination.
Questions to consider:
- If you follow all of your social media channels closely, do you think it is necessary to utilize additional analytics tools?
- What combination of the above examples do you think would be best suited for a small business or individual needing to manage accounts across multiple channels?