by Etienne Chia
October 14th, 2014

One of the biggest challenges many brands face with social media is the sheer speed of its growth and evolution. The constant sense of urgency it provokes has often led brands to jump on social platforms with insufficient planning, and as result, they grow sizeable communities with few concrete results to show for their efforts, often leading  disillusioned brand managers into thinking social media is a waste of time and resources. Social media has gone mainstream, yet few brands are doing it right.

The basic principles of engagement remain the same

Mobile Social and the internet of things are dramatically changing the way people interact, by creating new engagement bridges between offline and online experiences. Meanwhile, content abundance and platform dominance are leading to increasingly complex algorithms to filter pertinent content for users whose time and attention spans grow increasingly limited.

Yet having a deep knowledge of your audience and a clear understanding of why you want to engage with them remain the key to successful communication and interaction on social media.

Data is everywhere, but where to start?

With so much to keep track of, it is increasingly challenging for marketers to uncover meaningful and actionable insights from social media data. But as it is the case with virtually anything, knowing and understanding what you are looking for always helps: “Plan first, measure second”.

Purposeful data powering integrated and strategic social media operations

In the same way social media can be used to solve a plethora of business and communication problems, analytics should be viewed as a toolbox that can uncover a broad variety of insights for different purposes. By tracking the right data at the right time, you can ensure your social strategy is the right one at each and every step of the way.

It is however critical that the teams analyzing this data communicate frequently and collaborate closely with the teams responsible for the actual content and engagement.

Understand the situation

Knowing where you are is the first step to knowing where you want to be. What does your current social media presence look like? How engaged are your audiences with your brand? What are they saying about you and how do they perceive you? What about your competitors? And in this context, what does realistic success look like?

Who are you talking to?

Next, and perhaps most importantly, you want to gain a deep understanding of your audience, which in turn will tell you where and how to engage them in an optimal way. What are their media consumption habits? What are their interests and what type of content do they engage with and share? On which platforms and channels? Who and what influences their decision-making processes?

What do you want to achieve?

Then, you want to look at what your objectives are. Business objectives inform communication objectives, which inform social media strategy. By clearly understanding what success looks like, you can better decide which KPIs your reporting should focus on. And as you get down to execution, use data to understand what is working and what is not, and optimize continuously.

At the end of the day, the key to good insight is asking yourself the right questions at the right time: “always start with (and remember) the WHY”.

Etienne Chia is vice president, Mediaco for Greater China 

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