There is a huge amount of social data out there that brands are trying to tap into, but seeking out the conversations worth listening to is only the first step.

You then have to translate the seemingly endless waves of data into something meaningful that can be integrated into marketing activities.

New research carried out by Econsultancy and Adobe shows that 41% of organisations feel that a lack of tracking capabilities and analytics is preventing them from harnessing social data as effectively as they would like.

Our Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: Managing and Measuring Social looks at social media uses, challenges and needs from companies today. It is based on a survey of 650 marketing professionals.

Here are a few highlights from the report…

Technical issues

As mentioned, respondents to the survey cited a lack of tracking capabilities and analytics as the main issue preventing them from harnessing social data effectively.

Other problems frequently cited by client-side respondents were the fact that social data is stored in disparate tools (31%) and that social analytics are separate from multichannel analytics and business intelligence (31%).

However agencies were more likely to point to a lack of budget or buy-in from the top of the organisation (40%) and a lack of joined-up thinking (40%).

Q. What, if anything, is preventing your organisation / clients from harnessing social data as effectively as you would like?

Respondents were also asked to describe any challenges that restrict their ability to integrate different types of social data.

As you can see in this word cloud, the issues of a lack of budget, data, tools and knowledge reoccurred most often.

Where tech can fall short

Across a range of activities, companies are more likely to be using a free tool, or no tool at all to manage or leverage social media. This mirrors the development of all new digital channels, but the problem is especially acute with social because it’s far more than simply a channel.

This chart shows which social activities client-side respondents are paying for versus the ones they have a free tool for or do manually.

Q. Do you use third-party technology for any of the following social media-related activities?

This shows that, while marketers are doing their best to deal with the proliferation of new responsibilities and opportunities presented by social, at most organisations it means cobbling together a mix of tools and techniques.

One of the key problems is the number of social channels that brands need to engage with, which makes it difficult to integrate all marketing activities through a single platform as this chart demonstrates.

Q. Do you agree or disagree with the statement: ‘We connect all social activities together with a single platform.’