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Agencies Explore the State of Social Analytics at #SMWNYC

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As data becomes more readily available to agencies, the way that brands connect with consumers will continue to evolve. During “Social Analytics for Agencies: Getting Smarter, Deeper and Richer in 2014,” a Social Media Week panel hosted by Brandwatch, experts from a range of agencies provided a snapshot on the state of the industry as it pertains to social analytics.

The key takeaway from the panel is that agencies can leverage data to become more strategic in the way that they think, collaborate and execute. The first step in the creative process is to analyze relevant data to understand the culture, consumers and other points relevant to the category. Analysis can be conducted using social listening tools, platform analytics or even free tools like Google Trends. Insights derived from data will fuel collaboration between agency teams to set goals for the campaign and produce a targeted, innovative strategy.

While the panelists highlighted opportunities related to increased data availability, they also cautioned agencies to be aware of potential threats.

Opportunity: Data can unify the work of agency teams.

  • The first step to integrating data into work produced across agency teams is education. All agency employees, not just analysts, should understand how to effectively use data to support creative ideas, including when and how to access that data. To help facilitate these conversations at 360i, our Insights & Planning team hosts weekly “office hours” in which employees across disciplines can meet with analysts and learn how data can be used to power upcoming programs.
  • Once an agency understands the relevancy of data and how to use it, work produced across teams will gel. Data can be used at many stages in a project—to set goals, support strategy and measure results.

Opportunity: Data can help brands identify when to engage.

  • After the Super Bowl XLVII Oreo Blackout Tweet revolutionized the idea of real-time marketing, brands have tried to capitalize on moments that weren’t relevant to their target audience. Brands should be selective in identifying the right moments using existing data. [To learn more, read “3 Tips for Balancing Right-Time Marketing with Brand Relevancy.”]
  • While some brands want to jump on every opportunity to engage with consumers, data can help agencies identify the right engagement opportunities by getting to know the audience. For example, the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards weren’t the right moment for all brands to be present, but it was right for HBO. 360i helped HBO cut through the clutter via a real-time content series that utilized social listening data to identify their fans’ favorite actors and leverage their expressed passion for them.

Threat: When agencies rely on data scientists alone.

  • Experts across the panel stressed the importance of hiring the right people to build an analytics team. While data scientists can expertly find trends in a data set, they may struggle to translate their findings to a creative audience. 360i, for example, employs a diverse range of data specialists that canvas social listening, media measurement and brand analytics.
  • When it comes to social data in particular, one panelist described the ideal analyst as, “a statistician, a planner and a creative.” This person can identify the insight and transform it into a relevant, creative idea. At 360i, our Insights team partners closely with Strategy to allow for a free-flow of ideas and information across the two groups.

Threat: When data causes reporting for reporting’s sake.

  • When social data is refreshing itself in real-time, it can be tempting to over-report. However, it’s important to consider a marketer’s goals when developing reports. Measuring the right metrics at the right frequency will be most efficient for time and budget.
  • The analytics team should work with the marketer to outline key performance indicators prior to reporting on social data. Reports should include actionable insights tailored to the brand and the marketer’s established KPIs.

Agencies have access to more data related to brands than ever before, making it their responsibility to identify ways to make the data work for them. Without bringing a human element to a collection of data, it remains an untapped source for becoming smarter, digging deeper and growing richer.

Cover photo via Flickr