Author: Marianela Peraza
Big business is watching and they will continue to watch more carefully in the next few years! From what your favorite TV shows are to what your favorite candy bar is, businesses that will continue to grow successfully will need to know this. In a new report by Markets and Markets http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/social-media-analytics-market-96768946.html, Social Media Analytics is expected to grow from $620.3 Million in 2014 to $2.73 Billion by 2019! It is no surprise as the benefits for businesses are so apparent that not considering the significance of social media monitoring and intelligence can cause serious damage to a business’s brand if they are not meeting their customers’ expectations. Understanding what your customers like and what they purchase can be very powerful for the company’s marketing. Even knowing when a customer is not happy with your brand can provide very valuable information to help improve your product, customer service, etc. If leveraged well, social insights can reveal consumer opinion and trends, and can be useful to make future predictions.
When Social media analytics began, it was all about tracking the number of Fans/Followers, the number of “shares”, and website visitors. Today, those metrics have changed as better tools arose to reduce big data into a more manageable group of metrics. Does your strategy translate into meaningful insights that guide your business tactics? If the answer is no, you are in good company. Many businesses still struggle to produce actionable insights from these metrics. In an article written on www.business2community.com, they offer some six key reasons as to why there is a disconnect between real-time social media analytics and ROI.
Because social media is always “on”, 24/ 7, and literally MILLIONS of pieces of social media appear every second. WHO can keep up with all that?
So, while the massive AMOUNT of data slows down the social media analytics process, other factors account for why insights are so slow to emerge.
2. Getting social media metrics to the right people.
Often, social media is treated like the ugly stepchild within the marketing department and real-time social media analytics are either absent or ignored.
Real-time social media analytics create serious challenges for many organizations. Often, organizations are married to an old paradigm — a vestige of by-gone days when data was hard to get, taking months of data gathering and analysis. These organizations didn’t integrate data gathering into tactical and strategic decision-making because they couldn’t. Incorporating real-time analytics just isn’t possible within their existing environment.
For one thing, real-time analytics requires moving analysts closer to decision-makers and enabling decision-makers with analytic skills for ad hoc data analysis. But, that’s not what most businesses look like. Many decision-makers lack the analytics skills necessary for ad hoc analysis.
New arrival, Uber, which runs a ride-sharing program that competes with taxi companies and car services, uses real-time analytics to show how people move around a city at any given time, allowing Uber to optimize their customer service. Placing cars nearby reduces competition with local cab companies and real-time analytics provide insights necessary to do that. To do this, Uber uses real-time data to incentivize more drivers to provide services by raising the price of a ride.
Others such as Samsung and NASCAR do a great job of providing real-time social media analytics to guide decision-makers. NASCAR uses a control center to monitor chatter surrounding their events.
Visualizing real-time social media analytics is another key element involved in developing insights that matter.
Face it: human beings don’t do a great job of processing long tables of numbers. Notice on NASCAR’s command center, much of the date is displayed visually.
Simply displaying values graphically helps in making the kinds of fast interpretations necessary for making decisions with real-time data, but adding more complex algorithms and using models provides deeper insights, especially when visualized.
4. Unstructured data is challenging.
Unlike the survey data firms are used to dealing with, most (IBM estimates 80%) is unstructured — meaning it consists of words rather than numbers. And, text analytics lags seriously behind numeric analysis.
While unstructured data tends to muck-up any kind of analysis, it’s especially challenging in the context of real-time analytics, because you want interpretations IN REAL TIME. Handling text in real time often means using computer-generated translations of the written word. However, no computer can effectively categorize much of what’s written in social media where “bad” might mean bad or it might mean good, depending on context, relationship, and other variables.
5. Increasing signal to noise.
Social media data is inherently noisy. Reducing noise to even detect signal is challenging — especially in real time. Sure, with enough time, new analytics tools can ferret out the few meaningful comments across various social networks, but few can handle this in real-time.
6. A “wait and see” attitude.
Again, businesses are used to a certain operational model that makes real-time social media analytics challenging. For instance, we listed to a presentation by an analyst from NPR. He showed complex A/B testing used to determine the effectiveness of headlines, even whole articles online. As a statistician, he’s concerned about achieving statistical significance in his testing before making decisions.
And that’s great if you’re talking about putting $100 million into building and marketing a product, but doesn’t make much sense in the fast-paced world of social media. Real-time analytics require real-time decisions. Period.
If it’ll take you several days to gather enough data for statistical significance, forget it. Especially if you’re only trying to determine which headline does better, by the time you have a statistically significant answer, no one cares anymore. The news trend has moved to another topic.
FYI Solutions is a leader in business analytics and has partnerships with IBM, Tableau, and Microsoft. Give us a call to understand how to incorporate social media analytics into your environment and reap the benefits of increased understanding of your clients and prospects.