September 2, 2010

Actionable analytics for your social media efforts



How to keep data collection from being an onerous task

Beth KanterLately I’ve been obsessed with the idea of SpreadSheet Aerobics, an actionable social media measurement strategy that is fit and trim and light on its feet. When I coach nonprofits on tactics and talk about measurement, their facial expressions change from happy to annoyed. Collecting data is often viewed as an onerous task. It doesn’t have to be that way.

We know that it’s good practice to establish SMART objectives for your social media strategy and identify the audience before you execute. You need to think through your content and engagement strategy. You should also be thinking about what to measure and set up an efficient method for collecting that data. And, of course, making the time to think about what the data means.

We get so overloaded by meaningless data collection that we’re exhausted before we get to do the fun part: making sense out of it. I don’t try to measure everything. I find it overwhelming and a lot of it won’t help me refine my strategy. Spreadsheet aerobics is actionable data. What does that mean?

  • Measurement should inform specific decisions and/or actions.
  • Do not measure everything, but do measure what is most important to your objectives.
  • The data you gather should help you learn.

Avoid drive-by analysis

insightsAnother pitfall is doing “drive by” analysis. Let’s take Facebook Pages as an example. Rather than download a spreadsheet of the most important data points for a month from Facebook’s Insights analytics tools and comparing it against content, engagement and outreach strategies, administrators glance at the summary insights on their page and draw subjective conclusions.

Avoid this measurement-as-therapy trap. When we see the green arrows pointing up and the numbers look good, we might think, “They like me, they really like me.” But you can’t really put that data into context and learn from it.

Here’s my spreadsheet daily and monthly routine. I grab the monthly daily data from the Insights tool (old version) and download into a spreadsheet. Out of the 25 or metrics I could look at, I only collect the following metrics:

  • Total interactions
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • New fans (Likes)
  • Unsubscribes
  • Page views
  • Photo/video views (optional if I’m testing as content strategy)

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