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When choosing tools to analyze data for brand initiatives, you don’t just need any tools – you need the right ones. Here are some things to steer clear of as you shop for social media analytics tools for your brand.

Social network built-ins

The major social platforms out there – like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. – offer their own tools to tell you how you’re doing as you engage your fans. These tools are useful, of course, but they aren’t a stand-in for comprehensive social analytics tools.

Why not? They’re far too limited in what they can do.

For instance, Facebook Insights shows you a number of metrics – like page views, actions on page, post engagements and the like. You can see data for the current day, or up to the past 28 days. Not exactly real-time, but not the worst timeline out there.

No, Facebook Insight’s biggest problem is the lack of information to put their data into context. Looking at the grid for the five most recent posts for a local dance studio illustrates this clearly:

It’s easy to see which posts had the most engagements as far as clicks and reactions – but what were those reactions? You’d have to look at the post itself to know if they were hearts or sad faces, etc. And even then, you don’t have any understanding of the “why” behind the reactions unless there are comments to clue you in.

If there aren’t any comments, you’d need tools that let you explore the broader conversation to know why this particular post’s topic did or didn’t resonate with your followers. Otherwise you have to do a lot of manual post exploration, combined with a lot of guessing.

And that’s just on Facebook. Other built-ins come with similar challenges – and some social networks (like Tumblr) don’t even offer built-in analytics. You simply can’t get by without other tools in the mix.

Free social analytics tools

Many brands know they need something more robust than built-ins. If for no other reason, it’s a lot of work to go poking around the insights of each social network if you’re on more than one. Something that streamlines analytics from all the places you interact on social is more efficient.

For some brands and businesses, free tools are the first stop on their social analytics journey. Budgeting concerns are a real obstacle, and free tools are certainly better than no tools – but don’t think you can continue using them as your business grows.

Similar to built-ins, free tools are limited in the analytics they provide. A tool like HowSociable, to name one, gives you a free “magnitude score” – showing you the social networks where your brand is most successful. What’s the catch?

You don’t get to choose the networks. You can see 12 networks chosen by HowSociable, and must upgrade to see more – or to explore other brands for the purposes of competitive analysis.

And here again, you don’t know why your brand is performing well – or not – from network to network. Without that information, how do you know what action to take to improve your score?

You need to know what drives consumers to behave as they do on each social network – i.e., sentiment analysis tools and the ability to analyze what they feel about your brand and competitors, and why.

Beware 3rd party add-ons

Of course, lots of free tools are offered to give brands a taste, in the hopes you’ll upgrade to more extensive versions of said tools when your budget allows. There’s nothing wrong with that – and plenty of tools with grow with you well. Still, there are some caveats to watch for.

Beware tools offering flashy new technology offered as a 3rd party add-on.

Features like image recognition, for example, are absolutely necessary for the most comprehensive social analytics picture you can get right now. But if they’re not owned by the company providing your social analytics tools you can’t be sure they’ll always be available – or will be kept up to date as things change.

Instead, seek out tool providers that regularly update features and build them into their own platforms. This demonstrates a commitment to innovating along with the social analytics landscape, meaning you’ll always have access to state-of-the-art tools.

What should a worthwhile social media analytics tools offer?

There are a few basic components you really must have to stay ahead of competitors. Ability to analyze data in real-time, and sentiment analysis to lend context to the intel gathered about your brand and competitors, are two non-negotiable features, but there are others.

You can learn what they are in this checklist of all you need, or you can schedule a customized demo of our suite of tools for a preview of insights about your brand.

Just reach out when you’re ready!

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