Social Media Analytics – From White House to Corporate Boardroom

Associate Partner, Consultative Sales, IoT Leader, IBM Analytics

Facebook and Twitter have become an integral part of most of our lives. On average, Facebook users spent more than 10.5 billion minutes per day on Facebook during January 2012, excluding mobile devices. This comes out to 12 minutes and 26 seconds per user. Facebook crossed 1 billion users in August 2012, while Twitter surpassed 500M users this July 2012; this number has quadrupled in the last 2 years.

Even during the November 2012 United States Presidential election, social media was used as a communication tool to reach and connect with masses. As the race tightened in the closing weeks of this year’s campaign, President Obama maintained a substantial lead in both Facebook likes and Twitter followers over Governor Romney. By the end of the campaign, Obama had 22.7 million followers and 32.2 million likes, compared to Romney’s 1.8 million followers and 12.1 million likes. Twitter said it recorded more than 31 million election-related posts on Tuesday during election week, easily making the vote the most-tweeted political event in the social network’s six-year history. At one point, as election results were unfolding, users tweeted at a rate of 327, 452 tweets per minute.

While consumers may think of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as places to post musings and interact with friends, companies like Wal-Mart and Samuel Adams are turning them into extensions of market research departments. And many companies are beginning to explore how to use the enormous amount of information available over social media to their advantage. For example, Wal-Mart’s social media unit, now called @WalmartLabs, looks at Twitter posts, public Facebook posts and search terms on among other cues, to help Wal-Mart refine what it sells. The enormous data in Facebook and Twitter is constantly mined and has become part of Supply Chain (Inventory Management and Distribution) decision-making processes.

Companies using data from social media said the ability to see what consumers do, want and are talking about on such a big scale, without consumers necessarily knowing the companies are listening in, was unprecedented. According to MerchantCircle, over 70 percent of local business uses Facebook to market their business, up from 50 percent one year ago. Facebook and Google are the most widely used marketing methods amongst local merchants, with 37 percent rating Facebook as one of their most effective tools, almost tied with Google search (40 percent). Twitter has also grown in popularity over the past year, with nearly 40 percent of local merchants using the microblogging platform to build awareness and community around their products and services.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth recently released its annual survey on the use of social media in “Fortune 500” (F500) companies; results indicate a spike in F500 implementation and activity on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and blog postings. According to the research, F500 companies are showing a renewed interest in how social media can be used for engagement, hiring, outreach and corporate advancement. Past survey results show Fortune 500 companies have typically lagged behind Inc. 500 companies in the realm of social media. However, the 2012 report shows, within the past year, F500 companies have increased their Facebook page usage by 8 percent, Twitter usage by 11 percent, and blog postings by 5 percent. At this time last year, 31 percent of F500 companies reported no activity on Twitter or Facebook; according to the survey, that number dropped to 23 percent in 2012.

To complete the research, UMass surveyed the F500 companies, which represent 71 different industries. Of these industries, 54 reported using a blog and posting at least once every 30 days. Eight of the top 10 companies surveyed are not part of the 66 percent of F500 companies that reported using a Facebook page. In the 2011 survey six of the top 10 F500 had an inactive Twitter account, but this year’s survey revealed that all six of those companies are now actively using Twitter.

Social media advertising is only going to grow over the next few years, according to multiple studies. Over the next five years, social media ad spend is expected to hit 19.5 percent of the total marketing budget within organizations. Currently it is at 7.4 percent. As per BIA/Kelsey, it is expected that social-media advertising spending may rise to $9.8B in 2016 from $3.8B last year.

Other Findings:

  • According to Marin Software, click-through rates (CTRs) for social ads have jumped 50 percent year-over-year.
  • Cost-per-click (CPC) for these ads has risen by an even more dramatic 86 percent year-over-year.
  • Looking at select countries across the globe, the report reveals Facebook ad CTRs to be highest in India (0.13%), with the US and Eurozone countries following (both at 0.06%).
  • Facebook ad CPCs are 50 percent higher in the UK than in the US ($0.75 vs. $0.50).
  • Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) is highest in the US ($0.32).

In a recent Text Analytics Summit West that I attended in San Francisco, one of the important themes of the summit was how social media was being used as an interesting tool by companies like EBay, Porter Novelli, American Airlines and many others. Companies like EBay and a few others in Silicon Valley have set up Social Listening centers that act as command centers listening to social conversations about their brand and the competitions’ brands in real-time.

As organizations have started using social media as new advertising and marketing channels to connect with customers, it has become utterly important for Sales, Advertising & Marketing and Customer Service departments to monitor interactions and communication on a real-time basis to avoid missed opportunities and to gain competitive information. It is critical to know who your brand influencers are and who is working for competitors.

Social media analytics solutions can help your business:

  • Capture consumer data from social media to understand attitudes, opinions, trends and manage online reputation
  • Predict customer behavior and improve customer satisfaction by recommending next best actions
  • Create customized campaigns and promotions that resonate with social media participants
  • Identify the primary influencers within specific social network channels

Here are some of the key metrics for Facebook and Twitter that can be generated to track Fans Activity, Product and Brand Feedback, Competitor Analysis and more.

Facebook Insights

  • Comment Keyword Analysis – Top 5/10/25
  • Consumption by Post Type – Photo Views, Video, Links
  • Consumption Metrics – Total Photo views vs. Video Plays vs. Clicks – Spread out by Day / Last 30 days
  • Engaged Users as % of Total Reach by Day / Last 30 days
  • Engagement (#) by Post type (Question, Poll, Video, Photo, Link, Status)
  • Engagement Metrics (Total and Average) – Stories vs. Likes vs. Comments vs. Shares vs. Clicks
  • Fan Page Demographic Profile – Gender, Age Group, Interests and Activities, Country
  • Fan Page Engagement and Reach over time – PTAT – Comments vs. Likes by Day / Last 30 days
  • Fan Page Activity over time – Wall Posts vs. Admin Wall Posts vs. Comments and Likes
  • Fan Sources – Shares, Page Profiles, Search, Ads, Recommendation, Mobile
  • Impression Metrics – Organic Impression vs. Viral Impression vs. Paid Impression – Spread out by Day / Last 30 days
  • Impressions & Reach by Post Type (Question, Poll, Video, Photo, Link, Status)
  • Key Metrics – Total Reach vs. Total Consumers vs. PTAT
  • Negative Feedback – Hide Clicks vs. Report as Spam vs. Hide All Clicks vs. Unlike Page
  • Ad Campaign – Admin Wall Posts by Post Type (Question, Poll, Video, Photo, Link, Status) over time
  • Ad Campaign – Admin Wall Posts vs. Fan Likes / Shares / Comments  – Total and Average over time
  • Page Likes and Growth over time – Total and Net Change by weeks/Months
  • Page Likes and Unlikes over time – Total and Net Change by weeks/Months
  • Post Type – Average Engagement vs. Total Engagement over time
  • Potential Reach vs. Total Reach
  • PTAT, Impressions, Comments, Engaged, Reach by Demographic Profiles – Gender, Age Group, Interests and Activities, Country
  • Reach Metrics – Organic Reach vs. Viral Reach vs. Paid Reach – Spread out by Day / Last 30 days
  • Top 10/25 Referrer sites and search key words
  • Total Impression and Total Page Views by Day / last 30 days
  • Total Reach vs. Engaged Users by Day / Last 30 days

Facebook Competition Analysis

All the below metrics can be broken out by leading competition brands

  • Total Fan vs. Engaged Fans
  • Relative Share of Engagement
  • Relative Share of Fans
  • Fan Page Engagement – Comparison over time (days/weeks/months)
  • Fan Page Engagement Breakdown – Fan Likes vs. Fan Comments vs. Fan Posts vs. Fan Unlikes vs. Fan Shares
  • Average Response and Comments by Post

Twitter Insights

  • Total Followers vs. Legitimate Followers – Spread over time
  • Followers by Demographic profile – Age, Gender, Time Zone, Country, Profession
  • Users By # of Followers
  • Users By Total Tweets
  • Followers by Date of Last Tweet
  • Followers by # of Followers – Total Potential Followers
  • Top 10/25 Tweets that was Retweeted
  • Effective Reach vs. Potential Reach over time period
  • Number of clicks on links
  • Website Traffic – Clicks/Traffic back to your site by top referral sources
  • Twitter Counter – Number of Followers, Number of Tweets, Number of Retweets, Mentions
  • Number of Followers – Total and Growth over time period
  • Influential Followers Count by time period and demographics
  • Conversion Count (Sign-ups and Purchases) by time period and demographics
  • Impressions
  • Tweet Density
  • Velocity – Tweets Retweeted, Follower Retweet %
  • Inbound Messages vs. Outbound Messages spread by time and other dimensions

Note: Most of the above metrics can be sliced by different dimensions – Age/Gender/User/Time zone/Market/Day/Time, etc.

While the list of metrics are evolving with new features and products added by Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social networks, the above list gives us a good starting point to get control over advertising and budget. Social media analytics offers an entirely new paradigm for measuring interactive marketing by integrating, analyzing and enabling organizations to act on intelligence gained by expanding their reach, increasing retention, and ultimately, driving more revenue.