Wednesday 22 March 2017

The Rise of the Social Analyst

Interview with Jordan Enright-Schulz of Adobe

The Rise of the Social Analyst

Adobe Analytics bring out a range of products which enable a sophisticated understanding of your digital data, much of which is currently – and increasingly -  social.

The question that was put to Jordan Enright-Schulz, Product Manager of Adobe Social had to do with the bottom-line, the ROI of having a social analyst on board, particularly within the South African market.

But to put the need for social analysis in perspective, a recent US-based research report by the Social Media Examiner indicated that 88% of marketers surveyed want to know how to measure their social ROI.

While 97% of those marketers said they were embarking on some kind of social media, and 68% said that they did analyse their social media activities, 91% still said they wanted to know what tactics are most effective and a mere 37% said they were able to measure ROI on their efforts.

Historically, social media has been seen as a customer retention exercise, and the fact that most report using it to develop loyal fans (72%) and gain marketplace intelligence (71%) indicates its utility in this regard. At the same time, most intriguingly, the top two benefits seen were increasing exposure (92%) and increasing traffic (88%) – both of which are traditionally related to search marketing. 

So while search marketing has traditionally related to customer acquisition and social marketing to retention, the fact that so many people are sharing links within social media means that these lines are increasingly blurred.
Within South Africa, we have a number of challenges, many relating to connectivity, particularly in a highly price-sensitive market. So, while 41% of the population have some kind of access to internet, only 26% have mobile broadband, and as Justin McCarthy of TBWA points out, the “Obstacle majeure = connectivity".

At the same time, however, working off the premise that, strategically, one needs to plan ahead and look to the future, it is evident that this is a growth market, and certainly Adobe Analytics are interested in South Africa for precisely this reason and mobile in particular is seen as an untapped market.

As Enright-Schulz pointed out, it is evident that social is not paid search, it is not a down-funnel conversion tactic, and it is not new for people to have a common topic of discussion, however, the ability to track what is said over a variety of social media platforms is new, and it is quite apparent that if you are a large company interacting on multiple social media platforms, you need to implement an automated monitoring and media management system that can measure every link you publish and enable you to integrate all this data into one system, together with other measures. Hence, Adobe Social generates social data, automates the process of campaign tracking, enables the analyst to sift through the data, make recommendations, and effectively complete the cycle of collaboration.

For companies that are utilising social media, analysis of this data is key, but questions arise as to who to employ to ensure an adequate ROI, what to look for when making such a hire and whether you undertake such analysis in-house or via a third-party provider. After all, since another recent survey by Forrester Research discovered that while 93% of executives believe digital will disrupt their business in the next year, only 15% think they have the people and skills needed to execute a digital strategy.   

While these suites of software enable you to do the analysis in-house, giving rise to commentators talking about disintermediation, the reality is, analysis is a specialist skill-set. Hence, if analysing your digital data properly is going to become a key differentiator in terms of being able to claim your share of voice in a digital world full of endless content, do you really have that set of skills in-house? how do you find or train someone? or is there always a place for an independent, third-party verifier/s who at the very least, won't share the same biases you do (in terms of the well-known issue of confirmation bias)?

Obviously, a large part of that question will be answered in terms of size of your business and the extent to which your business is dependent on internet marketing. If you are extremely large, you have the budget to throw at business innovation, and dare not be left behind; if you are small and niche, particularly if you have a highly distributed audience (let’s say, like Black Milk) and all your transactions run off the internet, then it is self-evident you need to undertake proper analysis, and probably again bring it in-house.

Enright-Schulz commented that, in the United States, publishers such as Conde Nast have a separate team of people, in-house, who look after their social media, including analytics; this includes a social media manager who looks after each brand, and side-by-side, they run social analysis teams which report through to the marketing and insights department. So while the social manager of Wired, for instance, needs to ensure that what is broadcast is true to the brand voice, the social analyst is able to give insights into which pieces resonated most and with which audiences on what platforms and where. The business model of a publisher is relatively straight-forward in terms of monetising the site and ensuring the maximum number of clicks which relate directly back to your primary web property; for other clients, the business model is not quite as straightforward.

As Enright-Schulz pointed out though, what matters hugely is that, “What you are doing in social absolutely has to align with what the business stands for”.
In other words, your social analyst must truly understand your business. The kind of sophisticated understandings and insights you are requiring in this field mean you don’t simply look for a data nerd, but for someone who truly understands the dynamics and mechanics of social and who has an advanced understanding of analytics, particularly marketing analytics driving your business imperatives. She said there is a natural entry point into digital from those who have worked in database and direct marketing, and many in the US have made this particular transition or addition (since it is clear that the more you can relate the online world to the offline world, the more effective your marketing will be). 
Within the US, while some marketers are still unclear about ROI and social, there are some companies that are clearly defining their ROI in terms of social media, people are being held accountable in terms of their performance in this regard, and there is a clear rise of the social analyst operating within this digital marketing niche. Adobe itself has a social centre of excellence, staffed by social analysts, whose job it is to enable specific products, and again, while you may have someone who looks after the entire range, many are assigned to a single product only.

But while some companies are looking for loyalty and engagement through their social media presence, with a focus on high-value, repeat customers only, others, with a broader reach, would look to see measurements around brand awareness increase.

In other words, on the one hand,  it’s complicated given the multiplicity of various platforms and the fact that you can reach differing audiences with a variety of content in this platforms, on the other hand, it all becomes very simple if you know what your key business imperatives are, and set up your monitoring and reports accordingly.

Kathryn Kure
Data Myna
Tel: +27 (0)31 7645094
Mobile: +27(0)83 252 0992

About Kathryn Kure:

Classically trained at the HSRC in human sciences research and analysis, Kathryn loves to provide practical solutions to real-world problems, particularly if these are at the intersection of  technology, people and marketing. She particularly enjoys analysing what factors hinder or facilitate people in decision-making processes, and what practical implications these has for marketers.  

As an applied researcher who loves bleeding-edge technologies, she has often touted new technologies (and was, for instance, one of the first to use GIS for marketing analyses) and has worked both in marketing research and as a marketer in business innovation. Most recently, she translated her findings on SEO from analysing her blogs using Profile Analytics into success in social media and has over 52 000 followers on Google Plus and over 3.8 views. 

About Data Myna:

Over and above the obvious riff on 'data mining',  the Indian Myna is highly articulate, curious, adaptable, innovative and successfully out-competes other birds in its niche, which Data Myna argues is precisely what you want from your marketing intelligence.

Copyright and Her Limits Go to the Creative Commons

Copyright and Her Limits Go to the Creative Commons A Play in Two Parts   by Kathryn Kure     This work is licensed under Attribution 4.0 I...