JAN REZAB: Social analytics is a fascinatingly crowded space, but not if you differentiate between two types of companies. We should subtract data agencies that take data analysis from a company like us, interpret it and call it social media analytics. That is technically a social analytics service, but that sector is a service built on top of our data.
Social listening companies also aren’t exactly social analytics companies. Google Analytics is a form of social listening, for example, but it doesn’t offer intel from other channels or competitors. You’d have to look at someone like comScore on top of Google Analytics in order to add on market research, and you’d still need media monitoring. Socialbakers does all the monitoring, listening and analytics in one place.
Our visuals and user experience set us apart. We set up custom contracts with a number of our clients that offer innovative, competitive metrics based on data from their social interactions. For example, if you’re Nestle Waters in Stamford, Conn., we give you insights from all the other drinks and water companies in the US. This means insights on all beverage CPGs, in the water vertical and in others.
How would you define social engagement?
We’ve seen companies measure engagement in so many ways and it divides into two camps, public and private. The public part of engagement only offers two metrics, overall interactions and the number of fans. In the private section, engagement is divided by reach and clicks to the site. There’s really only one way to measure social engagement in my mind and that’s monitoring both private and public engagement.
We’ve seen so much debate about what’s the one metric that defines engagement, but there’s no such thing. Marketers often hold onto the misconception that they need to create one metric of success, and that’s a bad idea. You’ll always end up on with a bias on your data.
How do native ad metrics work within social channels?
First, I’d separate native advertising into two parts: social native ads and nonsocial native ads. I’d call nonsocial native advertisements sponsorships, but lets keep those out of the equation. I’d define social native ads as Facebook news feed ads, Twitter news feed ads, Facebook video formats, an Instagram boosted post or an ad on Tumblr.
I think the nonsocial part of native advertising can be, in some ways, deceptive to viewers. But newspapers and digital publications are hurting, and they need sponsorships. I think marketers are also trying to find new and creative ways to get their message across.
Social advertising, native or not, is one of the areas with the highest concentration of metrics. Facebook advertising alone offers 100 metrics to follow. Compared to digital advertising, which offers just a few, that’s huge. So making sense of social metrics is an insane undertaking. But we’re working to do just that. We have the Facebook Ads API and multiple social networking APIs on top of that as we work to bring marketers and advertisers better insights.
What do you offer in terms of social analytics standardization?
During Social Media Week [in London] we launched a new standard called Smart Storytellers. The standard does two things: One is an axis that monitors how many posts a page posts and then the axis measures that against the consistency of page interactions. Smart Storytellers can plot which brands are ahead of others depending on what pages can maintain a high average of interactions per post.
What brands are doing a good job of leveraging social platforms?
I’d call Red Bull one of the smartest marketers leveraging social. They were content marketers before content marketing had a definition. They based their brand off video content long before anyone else, and they’ve built a content machine and a community base so strong that they don’t use paid media around social that much. They produce content that’s hyperlocal and hyperviral.
Are are you seeing any shifts in how social platforms categorize their offerings?
There are two types of networks, viewer content networks and connection networks. YouTube, for example, is a viewer content network. They’re purely content, but they’re trying to be more like a connection network. LinkedIn is traditionally a connection network, but with their acquisition of Pulse they seem to be moving toward adopting more content. Facebook is in the middle.
All these social platforms are trying to move toward being a content delivery network because all content is trying to be social.
But beyond content delivery is nonsocial content, such as BBC, CNN and others. These exist outside of social channels, but users are pulling them into social channels through sharing. We could add another dimension that would include direct messaging. Apps like WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat and more, all of these do content distribution as well.
All of social ads will be native ads, and it’s happening already. Now 90% of all social ads are news feed-based. I even think, in time, most of digital advertising will be social.
How will that change ad creation?
It already has. YouTube ads are a brilliant example. YouTube people create dedicated ads for YouTube because they’re more social, sharable and viral. Think of the Super Bowl. It’s just a launch pad for social ads to takeoff. Advertisers put their videos on television, but they also release them directly into news feeds.
Facebook’s video product is going to be the strongest advertising product on the planet. Name me a TV station that could have a higher daily reach in the United States than Facebook’s homepage news feed. There is none. Sheryl Sandberg said this a few months ago.
What about other social platforms cropping up like Ello?
Ello is a niche network, and invite-only networks often go as fast as they come. But I don’t trust a company that says they’ll never run an advertising model and they’ll never collect data. I also can’t believe that other companies won’t mine data that’s publically available. Ello’s business model is wrong because it’s unsustainable. You can’t run a billion users on a platform where they upload a life’s worth of pictures and not pay for it.
I do think niches can work. If Ello wracks up a million users or a couple million users, they could still be successful. Pinterest is a niche, and they’re doing quite well. We don’t do data analytics with Pinterest yet, but I think it’s an amazing network.
What advice would you give marketers looking to leverage social channels?
Some companies – I’d say 20% – buy social analytics for the sake of buying it but never really use it. The remaining 80% of companies are distributed between casual users of social analytics and hardcore users. Socialbakers’ clients are serious about social metrics, and we’re really proud of that. But we’ve seen our clients’ evolution, too. We’ve seen daily usage increase from logging in two or three times a day to real-time usage everyday.
To any marketer looking to record and stay up to date with social, I would recommend two things. First, create a weekly scorecard and add a new metric every quarter. Social is about all metrics, not just one. Next, keep innovating and find new angles to distribute data within an organization in the best way possible. Our most successful clients have, per Socialbakers account, between 10 and 20 users accessing our metrics several times a day.
We’re still in the early stage of understanding social metrics and what they mean. Too often, I see marketers monitoring social channels in a traditional way. But they’re losing a lot of value by not adapting to the new metrics social channels provide.