It’s time to stop wasting money on social analytics software

Buzzmetrics, Hootsuite, SproutSocial - the list of social analytics tools out there is seemingly endless. But unless you dig deep into these toolkits to fully harness their power, you could be throwing money down the drain, writes KPMG's Anthony Mason.

It beggars belief, but many companies are burning $100,000 a year on social analytics software tools that are over-engineered and under-utilised.

And far more dangerous than this wasted cost is the fact that even with these tools, comms and marketing professionals are unable to accurately measure the performance of their digital campaigns – or adequately track social activity around sensitive issues.

Are you wasting money on social analytics?

It begins with something most Australian marketing professionals will relate to. Sitting in a meeting, possibly over Skype or Google Hangouts, while some whiz-kid in Silicon Valley demonstrates the latest social media tool. They run through yet another amazing feature, using a high-traffic example like the Superbowl or the last US election. It all seems so simple. Buy this great software and all your social monitoring and management headaches will be over.

Flash forward six months, and the flashy new toy is still largely sitting in its gift box. Rather than acting as a panacea for your information and data needs, only the most basic features are in day-to-day use. And even then, only one of the junior team members really understands how to use it properly.

It’s a sad state of affairs, and one that is only becoming more pronounced as social channels become important marketing tools for businesses across the country.

Over the past few years, the number of products available has increased at a staggering pace. At a last informal count, we estimate there are literally hundreds of software suppliers offering social media products, from Radian6 and Buzzmetrics to Hootsuite and SproutSocial. Many, if not most, of these products are excellent tools, with great functionality – if you know how to use them.

The problem is that many of the startups building these products are better at selling them than supporting the teams who are trying to operate them. As a result, those who need to derive the most value out of their software, generally senior comms and marketing managers, are the least likely to be able to use them.

And, as spend increases, and procurement departments start to ask questions about these high-cost recurring transactions, it’s time to truly ask yourself: “is my kit up to the job?”

To answer, evaluate what you really need to know to manage the social media element of your work. Is it a campaign monitoring system that provides accurate measurement on your digital content? Or is it a crisis and issue management tool that will alert you when social activity around a key search term reaches a tipping point?

Maybe you need a tool to track and manage key influencers for your brand. These are all functionalities that different software excels at, but no one supplier does a great job at all three.

Secondly, think about the actual usage of the tool by your team, compared to the sophisticated presentation of the software by the vendor. What the tool-makers forget is that comms people are not data analysts. Simplicity is generally the key to implementing a successful social media tool – one or two negative experiences will literally scare a user away for life.

Finally, with so many new products out on the market, it really is worthwhile looking to see what options are out there that would be best for your actual needs. Poll your peers at other companies, speak to an independent expert about what tools are the best for your situation. And demand more from the social tools you do engage with. The best tool-makers won’t try and wow you with overblown examples, they’ll ask you about how much social traffic you are looking to evaluate. They’ll admit their product isn’t perfect, and work with you closely to support you to use the features you really need.

Get it right and not only will you save $100,000 a year in wasted spend, you’ll actually be able to get the data and analysis you need, and be able to demonstrate the value of social far better to your business.

Anthony Mason is a manager at ‎KPMG’s Social Media Intelligence Group.


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