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The many brands who use our social analytics tools know the power social data offers, but is that knowledge widespread? Understanding how marketers overall use and view analytics tools helps uncover opportunities they’re missing – opportunities that you’re likely missing as well.

Our new report, NetBase Social Media Market Survey 2018: U.S. and Canada, reveals the many ways marketers in the U.S. and Canada benefit from social analytics – and speaks to areas they’ve yet to take full advantage of. Which camp does your brand fall into?

The Obvious Use Cases Are Largely Embraced

Many of the 700+ U.S. and Canada marketers we surveyed use social analytics in expected ways.  Community management and engagement topped the list at 72%, with informing campaign strategy (64%) and improving customer care (41%) next in line.

These are perfectly valid ways to apply social data, but hardly the only ways. It’s much easier to justify a spend on social analytics tools when you realize how much they offer beyond the marketing department.

Improving customer care is one facet of that extension businesses are starting to embrace, but there’s so much more you can do – like competitive analysis, crisis tracking, informing sales strategies, and product innovation.

Perhaps part of the problem here is the disconnect in measuring ROI of the ways marketers already use social analytics. Though more than half (56%) agree social analytics make their campaigns more successful, a large percentage (38%) don’t know if they do.

That uncertainty makes it hard to take things to the next level, and it’s likely a result of using less robust tools.

There’s No Longer Time to Sit on the Fence

Any brands still weighing their options should understand that the rapid pace of evolution in both industry and social analytics means waiting will cost them.

The only way to survive and compete as part of today’s global economy, is to accurately target everything you do – and you cannot do that without access to precise data.

If you aren’t using social analytics tools – you must start. And if you’re using tools that can’t keep up with the data you need, it’s time to level up.

Many of the marketers we surveyed understand this, but there’s room for more to get on board. This isn’t just about the value of social analytics tools, however. In some cases it’s about not understanding the value of social interaction in general.

For example, 53% of our survey respondents feel it’s “very important” to respond to negative comments on social in real-time. Still, 5% claim it’s “not important at all.” If any of those people are your competitors, they’re making your job very easy.

The Case for Adopting Social Analytics NOW

It’s up to marketers to convey the value of social data to the rest of the organizations for which they work. That’s one of the major disconnects our survey revealed. When ROI isn’t clear, it’s hard to convince stakeholders social analytics tools are worth the investment.

However, state of the art social analytics tools are designed to show their worth easily – with insights that come in real-time, simply shared via visual dashboards. If your tools aren’t proving your case, you need better ones.

Our survey shows the majority of marketers spend less than $25K on social analytics tools – but this isn’t an area where saving money should be the goal.

Social analytics tools are an investment in your brand’s future. It’s crucial you spend on tools that will grow as the landscape changes – something that’s already happening, and quickly. Images, video, AR/VR, AI, machine learning – these technologies are all part of where analytics is heading.

Your software provider must be one dedicated to innovating their tools as these changes occur. Otherwise you will always be starting at square one, having to rebuild your data structure. That’s not efficient – or cost effective.

What Marketers Want

Still, even where there are doubts, or cut corners, marketers are looking for solutions. We asked U.S. and Canada marketers what they would put on a social analytics wish list, and received some interesting answers.

Some, like “psychographic insights” are features many social analytics tools – like ours – already offer. This drives home the importance of finding the right provider. Don’t jump at a low price tag. Do your research and find the tools that can do what you need – now and into the future.

Other features may not be possible yet – like image tagging and AI integration – but are closer than you may think. But don’t wait until your dream features become real. There’s a lot you can already do for your entire business using social analytics. And you need to start – yesterday.

Just take the word of the marketers finding success with social analytics. Or you can hand them the keys to your business now – because they’ll overtake your audience eventually.

What was the most challenging wish we heard again and again? You’ll have to read the full report to find out – but it’s one we can help with.

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