In the tech world, we often talk about the data maturity journey. It’s a scale that helps organisations understand how sophisticated their use of data is, from operational, through to descriptive, planning, predictive and finally, prescriptive – where AI and machine learning identifies problems and makes decisions.
The model can be applied to social media, too. Your organisation’s use of social media tools and data should scale with your size, objectives and aspirations. But there’s no need to run before you walk. The key is to be organised, clear on your goals and requirements. That way, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success without over-committing to expensive tools before you’re ready. In this guide, we’ll help you navigate your way from baby-start up to full social media maturity - while using the right products.
If you’re starting up a small business or setting up a social presence for your side hustle, you don’t need to start with the social tools turned up to eleven. Focus on building a strong foundation for growth: make a plan, get on the right platforms, and start building your following.
What does this mean?
• Read up on the kind of content and platforms will work best for your business. We’ve written up a primer on social channels here.
• Plot out a social calendar with (achievable) goals for a mix of posts across the five categories of social posts that drive growth.
• Set up the key success metrics you want to track. A great start could be updating a spreadsheet with your social media spend, follower count, sessions on your website from social, plus some reach and engagement stats sourced from the channels.
• Do some at-home competitor analysis. Look at the other brands in your category and ask some critical questions: where are they strongest on social? What search terms are they ranking for on Google? What’s organic, what’s not?
The beauty of being a small business or start up is that you’re agile and not bogged down by out-of-date tools bought by a procurement department in the 90s. If you keep track of your data, log your results, and keep your social channels organised, you’ll find yourself in a great position when it comes time to expand into more complex analytics.
But where should you pull data from when you’re just starting out?
• Google, Facebook, Instagram and almost every other social platform offers analytics and posting tools. With vast budgets and ready-made data sources, platforms can offer powerful analysis and insight in certain areas.
• Google Analytics can tell you which social platforms are driving the most traffic to your website, and help you work out your social spending ROI. Facebook’s analytics tools can help target the right audience and improve retention.
While Google and Facebook analytics tools are free for small business users, larger organisations will need to pay a monthly fee. Because these tools are designed around specific platforms, they can also be limited in scope compared to others.
If you’ve moved past the ‘just me, my laptop and my kitchen bench’ phase of getting your business off the ground, you’ll tire of managing social media ‘in platform’ pretty quickly. You might be co-ordinating posts across multiple social channels, or have several campaign streams to track.
When you reach this point, it might be time to bring in the free versions of social media management tools. These platforms are largely American-based and, as is the prerogative of all software-as-a-service social products, offer a free or very inexpensive social media management tool as a gateway drug to increasingly costly (and complicated) product bundles.
The main benefit for the harassed Australian or New Zealand social media marketer is the suite of scheduling and management tools, alongside some basic analytics:
• Hootsuite offers a, well, suite of scheduling and management tools for social media marketers. It’s one of the oldest and most popular social media management platforms out there (and in some ways, the UI is showing its age)
• The free versions of Social Oomph and TweetDeck are great if you have just one channel.
• Sprout Social is another classic (no longer with a free version, alas) that allows you to publish, schedule and manage social.
Some key watch outs:
• Check your meta-data: These tools may scrape the link on your social post for the title, image, description and the URL. Sometimes the wrong image will pull through, or the title will display strangely. A simple solution? Set up a private, dummy social account for testing.
• Beware the snowball: These free packages are designed for up-selling. Keep an eye on what you actually need and don’t automatically upgrade without taking a close look at the detail. Analytics like social listening, competitive benchmarking, paid and organic ROI reporting will only come with the enterprise or premium subscriptions.
When you reach a maturity point where your brand is spending a substantial amount of budget on social media, you’ll need to justify that spending – there’s no point investing if the business don’t get a return.
Your board or management team may start asking:
• What’s the Marketing ROI?
• How are we performing compared to other brands in our category?
• Are our social media efforts succeeding in getting new leads into our database?
You’ll also be ready for more sophisticated marketing and answers to questions like:
• How is our target audience feeling at the moment? Can we help them feel more optimistic, or help fulfil a need?
• What topics are driving conversation – do we have something effective to say?
• Which of our posts was most effective against these specific objectives?
• What kind of social content deliver us the best marketing ROI?
It’s easy to look at shares and likes on various platforms, but those metrics doesn’t offer much insight when you’re trying to answer strategic questions. That’s why, over the past few years, a host of social media analytics tools have been launched. These tools use a variety of methods to measure social media performance, going way beyond likes and shares. Some focus on analysing the sentiment surrounding different posts, some look at trends or link marketing spend to business growth, and others – like Zavy – do it all.
Zavy is a relative newcomer to the social analytics world - we're not retrofitting our analytics to fit the moment, it's all based on what marketers need to succeed in today's landscape. We offer a unique range of analytics tools, powered by machine learning and AI, on an intuitive, user-friendly platform.
Our proprietary Social Score tool couldn’t be simpler: we compare your brand with similar businesses in your industry using proven performance metrics and give you a single number that signifies where you rank. If you’re just starting to look at your social media performance from a strategic perspective, it’s a clear place to start – from there, you can make changes and watch your score for improvement.
Digging deeper, we can analyse your performance over time, measure engagement, and benchmark your performance against key metrics. Our powerful social listening tools track and analyse thousands of comments and conversations on social media, giving you searchable, real-time insight into public sentiment around your brand and emotions on individual posts. It’s all designed to give you real, practical information about how your brand is working, so you can make changes and boost your ROI.
It’s no surprise that we think Zavy is the best social analytics tool out there – being the best has been our goal from the start. But remember, no matter where you are in your social analytics journey, the key is to set yourself up for success from the get-go.
Sometimes, social media marketing can feel like shouting into the wind – you put in a huge amount of energy but you don’t know whether anyone is getting the message.
We used the Zavy score to identify the top three posts of 2021 from the brands in our Top 25 Australian Scoreboard. Here is what we learned.