lie detector iphoneAs more companies introduce social media campaigns, there’s often a real lack of understanding when deciding which numbers really matter,  so the default action is often to watch everything.

On the one hand, keeping track of every tweet, post and comment is good practice. However, when it comes to actually interpreting the piles of data, meaningful analysis is sometimes sorely absent.

Ideally you should be able to interpret the figures so that you can both hone your KPIs and make ongoing strategic decisions. By analysing figures in meaningful ways you’ll receive deeper, more useful insights.

Let’s consider a few ways you can sort figurative fact from fiction:

Do it yourself

There are a number of tools and apps available that will score your online sentiment for you. Don’t trust them.

As an example, someone might tweet: “Joy, another £50 charge on my account. Thanks for that Big Bank PLC.

If you’re using an automated service it will see your brand name, and the words ‘joy’ and ‘thanks’ and assign a positive score.

It’s far more useful to have a real person hand check your Twitter stream for relevant comments rather than have a program simply rate everything.

Accumulate to speculate

Short term reporting is always handy, but make sure you compile long-term reports for all your social media channels.

Every stream will experience highs and lows and the temptation is there to act on them directly, especially with the speed and flexibility social media offers you.

Make sure you also have tracking in place so that you can view the long term effects and growth stemming from your campaign.

Depth of data will provide you with solid numbers to base long term decisions on. Don’t be fooled by trends. Looking at short term figures, weekly hits for example, can be misleading as they don’t take factors like public holidays or network outages into account.

Keep it together

Make sure you timetable your regular round of data collection from each stream.

We’ve all received emails saying the boss wants a reprot straight away. Good for him, but randomly pulling data from everywhere at a moment’s notice does no good at all.

You’ll receive a much clearer picture if you’ve taken data from a single source at 3pm on Thursday every week than from anything you’ve randomly grabbed. Above all else, be consistent.

There are an awful lot of facts and figures to be found on both your internal analytics and the net at large, but the key is in organising them and examining them effectively over time.

Without a clear system in place the data becomes random, meaningless and can actually be damaging to your business by being incorrectly understood.

Make sure you have a clear plan in place before you act on your figures.

Matt Owen

Published 26 July, 2010 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen is a marketing consultant based in London. He was previously Head of Social at Econsultancy and currently runs Atomise Marketing. Opinions expressed are author's own.

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Comments (3)



Matt...Good Post

Your comments reminded me of two words - Marketing Balance. While I completly agree analytics - whether for Websites or Social Media - are critical to understanding the success of any marketing strategy, I stronly believe we also have to create a "Balance" between understanding data from the past and moving forward with new strategies and ideas.

We have worked with some companies who want to spend countless hours looking at analytics and others who want to ignore analytics completely in favor of looking for new business.

The companies that have come out on Top are the ones that have balanced their efforts. A good reminder for me today. Thanks again

almost 8 years ago


McClain @


The amount of information available can be over whelming and you are right I believe that with out a workable plan in hand that you're going to brake the bank based on assumption.

Better to invest a little more time developing a plan/system for information clarity and system integretion than open the window and pour out money on half hearted runs rather than true mathmatical discipline.



almost 8 years ago


Thank you Matt,

I agree to Go2Mach2, it is just a matter of marketing balance, once you know how to organize reports and ideas from the past, then you can have a well-guaranteed strategy to have a promising business at all times. Analization on every moves must be look upon in doing innovations.

almost 8 years ago

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