The Global Source for Social Media Researchers

SMRA Blog 

  • 4 Jun 2017 7:14 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Students at private, expensive universities exhibit better mental health than public school peers

    By Jason Maderer | JUNE 1, 2017 • ATLANTA, GA

    Using information gleaned from social media, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a mental health index for the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities. Their study looked at five years of data on Reddit, scanning it for comments about issues that included depression, financial and academic anxiety and thoughts of suicide. Schools were given a score based on the frequency of those threads and robustness of the conversations.

    The research found that students at higher-ranked schools have better mental health than those at lower-ranked colleges. The well-being index is also better at universities with higher tuition. It’s lower at large public schools with a majority of female students.

    The study doesn’t identify schools individually for privacy reasons.

    “Online conversations about mental health issues are definitely increasing,” said Munmun De Choudhury, Georgia Tech’s assistant professor, from the School of Interactive Computing, who led the study. “We saw it rise 16 percent from 2011 to 2015, even after we took into account that Reddit has become more popular in recent years.”

    The study focused on the top 150 universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, gathering data from the 109 of them with active Reddit accounts.

    De Choudhury suggests that the reason there are less posts about tuition anxiety at more expensive colleges is because their students tend to be more affluent than the average public school attendee. Therefore, the stresses of paying for college or going into debt aren’t as great. De Choudhury also thinks that the wider variety of backgrounds at large public schools likely lends itself to a more robust sharing of stress and anxiety issues.

    “As for more posts about mental health at universities with more females, I don’t think it’s necessarily because women have more anxiety,” De Choudhury said. “Research has traditionally shown that females are more likely to express their emotions and feelings whether in an offline setting or social media. It’s not that they have poorer mental health — it’s that they’re more likely to talk about their troubles while online.”

    The study also found an overall increase in mental health posts as the academic year progressed. It peaked in the fall in November and was even higher in May. It gradually decreased each summer.

    The Georgia Tech team used a method called transfer learning to mine the data. First, they created a model to scan subreddit threads about depression, bipolar disorder and other issues to learn patterns of what is written when people discuss mental health. Then the model was used on the higher education subreddit communities.

    The algorithm scanned the five years of discussions, day by day, looking for clues. Once it found keywords and phrases, it measured the breadth of the conversations. The more frequent the posts and depths of the discussions, the lower the respective mental health indexes.

    Overall, three percent of the threads on the 109 sites were about mental health topics.

    De Choudhury has previously done similar social media research to help identify expressions of eating disorders, postpartum depression and suicide.

    “I’ve always wondered if there are things about college students and mental health that we could learn by using these same social media research tactics,” De Choudhury said. “We wanted to see if we could do something more collectively at the campus level before digging deeper to understand the challenges individuals might be facing. Perhaps this data can be used to help campus administrators as they create policies in real-time to benefit student bodies dealing with stress and anxieties.”

    The paper, “A Social Media-Based Index of Mental Well-Being in College Campuses,” was presented this month at the 2017 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017) in Denver.

  • 2 Jun 2017 1:49 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    It turns out mining social media for research and insights is not just for the consumer goods industry. More and more researchers are mining social media and online content for disease control. Recently Johns Hopkins conducted a study that revealed online data has several uses. Concentrating on those diseases that spread quickly such as the flu or influenza have been the primary focus. The data mining shows strong potential for tracking other diseases as well.

    In order to create relative information it is important to create media filters to scrape the data first. Then one can look at the analytics to identify geographic trends and severity of an illness or disease. Are certain age groups being affected more than others? Which area of the country is showing higher outbreaks? This along with other data can help researchers in alerting the public.

    While attending The Social Media Shake Up in Atlanta last week, one software provider discussed how they have been tracking medications and their affects on patients through social media mining. Additionally, Pharma is able to find "influencers" who have had success with their products and further engage with them to learn more. As the image below identifies, tracking where the heaviest chatter is occurring can be very beneficial when determining marketing spend and educational opportunities.

    The American Medical Association has published a great article that discusses the use of social media in the medical industry.

    While we must move forward with caution and ensure that a patient's privacy is the priority, I do think that this kind of information can be added to the other research methods used by the industry. Especially since it has been noted that 80% of people will research a medical problem or illness on the internet.

  • 1 Jun 2017 2:41 PM | Deleted user

    By Ronan Shields | 31 May 2017 | As published in The Drum

    View the full deck here:

    The latest Internet Trends report from KPCB is out, suggesting flat internet user growth, slowing smartphone shipments, increased ad spend on mobile, with 'the dupopoly' capturing the majority of this. 

    The report, ‘aka The Mary Meeker report’ is often touted as a ‘must read’ by leading minds in the media industry and was unveiled today (May 31) by the Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers analyst at Recode's Code conference

    Coming in at well over 300 slides long, the comprehensive study spans a vast range of topics from user numbers, media trends, gaming, and even healthcare. The Drum selected the top line figures concerning media professionals. 

    • The global number of internet users in 2016 was 3.4 billion with annual growth flat at 10%

    Kleiner Perkins

    • Smartphone shipments are increasing (total users just shy of 3 billion) but the rate of growth continues to slow 

    Kleiner Perkins

    • In the USA the average adult spent 5.6 hours per day consuming media online 

    Kleiner Perkins

    • And advertisers continue to move their budgets online with digital ad spend totaling $73bn 

    Kleiner Perkins

    • Although ad spend on mobile devices continues to trail consumer media consumption

    Kleiner Perkins

    • This has been accompanied by Facebook and Google’s increased share of ad spend, their respective growth rate significantly outpaced the market

    Kleiner Perkins

    • Increased digital ad spend has been accompanied by pressure on marketers to show that it produces results, but proving ROI is a challenge

    Kleiner Perkins

    • Adblocking is on the rise, especially in emerging economies where internet consumption is primarily via cellular networks 

    Kleiner Perkins

    • Improvements in technology are making it easier for marketers to attribute offline purchases to online ad spend 

    Kleiner Perkins

    • The financial value of mergers and acquisitions in the tech sector during 2016 ($336bn) was down year-over-year but the number of deals was up 

    Kleiner Perkins

    A full copy the report, which collates findings from a number of different data sources, can be downloaded here

  • 1 Jun 2017 12:56 PM | Deleted user

    By Mary Meeker Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

    Published on May 31, 2017 

    Featured in: Editor's PicksEntrepreneurshipMobileTechnologyVC & Private Equity

    Click here for full deck

    Focus Topics: 

    • Online Ads and Commerce: More Measurable and Actionable: A review of current advertising trends shows an increased focus on the measurability of online ads. Also: the interconnectedness of ads and commerce where ads are the storefront. (Slides 10-79) 
    • Interactive Games: Evolving, Pervasive, Driving Innovation: Esports have become one of the world’s biggest spectator sports, Also, there’s growing use of games for education and learning, providing skills that are hard to obtain otherwise. Gaming is a leading indicator for many elements of today’s consumer/enterprise tech landscape. (Slides 80-150) 
    • Media: Distribution Disruption: Digital streaming businesses have changed the media game through scale and personalization. Consumers are increasingly wary of the bundle, opting for the choice, personalization and pricing of both large and emerging subscription media businesses. (Slides 151-177) 
    • Healthcare: At A Digital Inflection Point: Digitization of patient data, pharmaceutical testing and medical records is driving faster and more accurate insights. (Slides 288-319) 
    • Enterprise: Clouds on the Horizon: Widespread adoption of cloud computing is driving a revolution in enterprise applications, but also a corresponding rise in security threats. (Slides 178-192) 
    • China: Golden Age of Entertainment and Transportation: Increasing mobile user engagement in China is catalyzing an evolution in mobile-centric entertainment and financial technology. Also, China is the leading on-demand transportation economy globally – as bike-sharing companies rapidly emerge. (Slides 193-231) 
    • India: Competition Continues to Intensify…Consumers Winning: Behind China, but leapfrogging to new technology infrastructure driven by Prime Minister Modi's policies and 1.2 billion people with digital identity profiles. (Slides 232-287) 

    The deck covers a broad array of topics, including global internet user trends, advertising and e-commerce, gaming, online media, digital health, and much, much more. This guide is intended to highlight some of the key topics of discussion in this year’s edition.

  • 1 Jun 2017 12:19 PM | Deleted user

    by Laura Forer  |  June 1, 2017  | As published on

    Remember when we surfed the Internet on a computer or laptop while seated at a desk?

    It wasn't that long ago, but times have changed. Now we consume content wherever we are, whether that's at home or at work or en route to a store. And our gadgets have changed from stationary computers to myriad mobile devices that we carry or wear.

    Mobile brings a constantly connected mindset, and it's driving changes in the way we—including our customers—consume content and interact with brands, from voice search to chatbots, and from digital assistants to the Internet of Things (IoT). 

    DNN Software has created an infographic that illustrates stats and figures related to this phenomenon. 

    For instance, the infographic shows that active users of virtual digital assistants are forecast to grow from 390 million (in 2015) to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021. Those digital assistants are driving an increase in voice searches. In 2016, Google announced that 20% of mobile queries are coming from voice searches, according to the infographic.

    To see more details about emerging technologies that are changing the way content reaches consumers, check out the infographic:

    Laura Forer is the manager of MarketingProfs: Made to Order, Original Content Services, which helps clients generate leads, drive site traffic, and build their brands through useful, well-designed content.

    LinkedIn: Laura Forer

  • 31 May 2017 9:20 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    By: Colin Shaw

    Founder & CEO | Customer Experience Thought Leader | Consultancy & Training | Keynote Speaker | C-Suite Network Member

    Economists hate surveys. They don’t trust them because people lie in surveys. Economists prefer to look at what people do instead, which, as we know, is what people are incented to do. Understanding these truths is critical to the work of an economist, and it is also vital to moving your Customer Experience to the next level.

    Let’s say you accept this premise, that people lie in surveys. However, you need to ask customers which product they value the most or how likely they are to do something in particular. How then should you get information about what people really want?

    According to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, the answer lies in their online activity. Actions speak louder than words. It’s true in relationships, in customer interactions, and apparently in Google Searches.

     The Social-Desirability Bias

    Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is an economist, data scientist and an author. His book, Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, explores how big data reveals the biases we have and how we think. After analyzing an assortment of data sources from online activity, his insight was that when we are alone with the internet browser, we express our real interests more than we do in a survey. It is true because of the social-desirability bias.

    The social-desirability bias describes how when we are taking a survey we answer the questions in a way we believe others will approve. Whether that means exaggerating the good, downplaying the bad or lying outright, we don’t want to share our undesirable behavior for fear of being judged, even on a survey. There is no incentive to be honest on the survey.

    However, those fears are assuaged when the search engine is open before us, full of answers. It won’t judge us for our queries or our interests. Moreover, lying to the search engine is pointless; we must tell the truth to get the information we need. So, the search engine incents us to tell it our secrets, which we do—and it records them all.

    The social desirability bias is the reason you can’t trust what your respondents say on a survey. In a recent Freakonomics podcast, Stephens-Davidowitz gave an excellent example of this concept. They asked people how they voted in the last election. Many who didn’t vote still responded with a candidate name because voting is socially desirable behavior. This behavior is why Stephens-Davidowitz says economists don’t like surveys. You can’t trust what people say; you have to look at what they do.

     Google Knows the Truth—And They Will Tell You, Too

    Google keeps track of what people search for and anyone can look at it. It’s called Google Trends. As they say on the Google Trends Page, “All our data is open source, so you can download and play with it for yourself.”

    Click here to see what today’s Google Trends are.

    As part of their advertising effort, you can also look at what the most common local and national searches are for specific subjects, including the number of searches for certain words or phrases.  Google provides it to help you build an online campaign using keywords. However, it is also insightful about what information people search for online.

    Click here to see how the general population is searching for your relevant keywords

    What people say they will do and what they do are often different things. It’s all part of how our irrationality influences our behavior. As in the survey example, it’s irrational to lie on a survey, especially when it’s anonymous or at least private. In many cases, the respondent will never interact with the researcher again, so any judgment will not have lasting repercussions. Stephens-Davidowitz explains that lying is a habit for people, so much so that “these behaviors carry over in surveys.”

     Embrace the Irrationality We All Share

    In my latest book, my co-author Professor Ryan Hamilton of Emory University and I share seven imperatives for moving your Customer Experience to the next level. The second imperative is to embrace the all-encompassing nature of customers’ irrationality. Part of this concept is the idea that people can always tell you why they did something; but they can’t always tell you why they really did something.

    I often refer to the story of how Disneyland guests told Disneyland researchers that they wanted the option of a salad at the park’s food venues. Disneyland added salads to the menu. However, when guests attend the park, they don’t order the salad; they order junk food. To me, this says that respondents don’t want the survey taker to know that they choose junk food over a healthier option. It is more socially acceptable to want a salad than junk, so that’s what respondents say.

    If you were to ask those same customers why they didn’t order a salad at Disneyland, they might say any number of reasons. Some of them might even be the truth. The majority, however, will probably be yet another version of the “truth.” Moreover, the person telling you their version of the truth might not even be aware of the lie they are telling. Irrationality is a cunning mistress.

    It seems like surveys are useless. But I wouldn’t go that far. Listening to what customers say is important. Surveys have their place and they do reveal a lot about customers, albeit mostly what customers want you to think of them. However, considering survey responses the whole truth, is a mistake.

    Instead, survey responses are only part of the truth. It is equally important to compare what customers say to what customers do. This insight will give you the opportunity to anticipate their needs and surprise and delight them in the Customer Experience.

  • 25 May 2017 9:58 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Many of our social media feeds are dominated by beautiful, mouth-watering photos of food. These photos inspire some serious food envy but could they also educate and encourage healthier eating?

    That was the question explored by a team of researchers from the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). The results of the study were presented at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Denver, CO.

    "We know that humans learn by observing each other," said Marissa Burgermaster, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and first author of the paper. "Our research explored whether we could leverage the popularity of online quizzes and food photos to develop new ways to teach people about nutrition."

    So, Burgermaster and co-author Lena Mamykina, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University, teamed up with Krzysztof Gajos, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at SEAS, to develop an online experiment to test how people learn about nutrition.

    Gajos is a pioneer in online experiments. In 2011, he co-founded LabInTheWild, an online platform for conducting behavioral research with unpaid, online volunteers.

    Behavioral studies performed in conventional labs are often constrained by time, size and a homogenous volunteer pool -- usually a group of undergrads from similar backgrounds. But online platforms like LabInTheWild can collect experimental data from a large group of volunteers from diverse backgrounds over extended periods of time.

    "Online experiments offer controlled but real-world environments to learn about the mechanisms of behavior," said Gajos. "These platforms offer a faster theory to experiment cycle and can provide more reliable data since the unpaid volunteers are motivated by curiosity or interest in social comparison."

    Using LabInTheWild, the researchers designed an experiment to test how people learn about nutrition in the context of a social, online quiz. The team was specifically interested in participants' knowledge of macronutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber.

    The experiment asked participants to compare photographs of meals -- such as split pea soup and black bean soup -- and identify which meal was higher in a specific macronutrient, such as carbohydrates.

    After each answer, participants received one of the following responses:

    No feedback at all

    The percentage of participants who chose each response

    The correctness of their answer without additional explanation from an expert

    The correctness of their answer with additional explanation from an expert

    The correctness of their answer with explanations written by fellow quiz-takers

    Later in the quiz, participants were asked to evaluate another pair of meals that included the same key ingredients to measure whether or not they learned anything from the feedback they received.

    About 2000 people participated in the experiment over a six-month period.

    The researchers found that, unsurprisingly, the participants who received additional information explaining the correctness of their answer did better on the quiz and learned more than participants who got no feedback or no explanations.

    However, the team also found that there was no significant difference between explanations generated by experts and explanations generated by peers.

    "These findings suggest that rather than relying on experts to teach nutrition literacy online, we can corral the wisdom of the crowd to help people make more informed decisions to improve their health," said Mamykina.

    "We're never going to be able to unleash an army of expert nutritionists to correct all the nutrition information on social media," said Burgermaster. "But we can tap into a larger, online social network. Our research shows that those social platforms could be used for learning and to nudge people towards healthy behaviors."

    "This research is another example of the transforming relationship between science and society," said Gajos. "By participating in an online experiment, participants gained knowledge that directly impacts their own life and decision making."


  • 22 May 2017 10:25 AM | Deleted user

    by Christian Neri  |  May 20, 2017  as published in MarketingProfs

    In this week's 'Skim: A radical shift is underway pitting Facebook against LinkedIn as the go-to social network for professionals; Google introduces a search revolution with Google Lens; Instagram ups its Snapchat attack with new face filters; Facebook renews its war on clickbait with new algorithm change, and it cracks down on fake live videos; Twitter highlights new privacy features for users; a major search engine will begin surfacing chatbots in search results; what social platforms influencers care about most; and much more…

    Skim for all the latest on the changing social media landscape!

    1. Is Facebook replacing LinkedIn as the world's professional social network?

    HubSpot's 2017 State of Inbound unveils a dramatic shift in B2B social media marketing, and all brands need to take notice: Nearly as many professionals are opting for Facebook as LinkedIn. Fully 74% of respondents reported using Facebook for professional reasons, versus 78% for LinkedIn.

    The survey also finds that in certain regions, such as Latin America, people are using Facebook for professional reasons more often than they're using LinkedIn! What does all this mean? B2B marketers who haven't already begun incorporating Facebook ads and a well thought-out strategic plan and budget for the platform might need to start doing so.

    The following chart illustrates the radical shift in use of the two social giants, but be sure to check out Josic's write-up for more in-depth analysis of what the change means for marketers.

    2. Google brings augmented reality to search with Lens

    The tech giant on Wednesday announced a major push into augmented reality (AR) with the introduction of Google Lens—a tool that not only allows users to query its search engine by snapping a photo of something in the real world but also overlays digital images on what users would normally see through their phones' camera lenses.

    Whereas Facebook and Snapchat have used AR to make people laugh, Google Lens—available later this year—aims for utility. Users will be able to point their camera at a dog so Google can tell them what breed it is, or users can check out the reviews of a restaurant by aiming a camera at the outside of the restaurant and waiting for a digital scorecard to appear above the restaurant image.

    3. Instagram becomes even more Snapchat-y, adds face filters and eraser tool

    Instagram certainly doesn't waste any time developing the features that made Snapchat such a smash success in its early days. The Facebook-owned social network is introducing the ability for users to transform their selfies with animated face filters, as well as a new Rewind mode to put videos into reverse.

    Instagram also created the ability for users to include hashtags in their Stories, and a new eraser brush that emulates exactly what Snapchat introduced last week.

    4. Twitter announces new NFL livestreaming deal for 2017...

    But it won't include any games. Twitter lost that bet out to Amazon, which nabbed the rights to stream Thursday Night Football games this year. But Twitter's new deal will include live content and a brand new half-hour digital series that will be hosted by NFL talent and will air five nights per week during football season.

    Live pregame coverage will include Periscope broadcasts, such as play warm-ups and sideline interviews, with the social networking attempting to provide fans with a behind-the-scenes experiences prior to games. Still, whereas Twitter garnered 2 million viewers for its debut game last year, over 48 million watched on TV, so Twitter still faces a (steep) uphill battle.

    5. Facebook News Feed change renews war on clickbait

    The days of shocking headlines that you just can't scroll past without clicking might be coming to an end. Facebook is taking a new approach to tackle clickbait by taking it into account at the post level, as well as the domain and page levels.

    The social network will also now scan posts that have headlines that withhold information or exaggerate information, so publishers will have to get a little more creative to draw attention to their posts.

    Facebook engineers say Pages that don't rely on clickbait for readership should see minimal impact in terms of distribution on News Feeds. Although Facebook's power over publishers can sometimes be a scary thought, we think the social network is on the right side of history for this one.

    6. Twitter adds new personalization, data-usage capabilities for users

    Want to control how the social network can use your demographic, interest, and other information? Alongside a new Privacy Policy, Twitter is rolling out updates that allow users to control how their information is used on the social network, all within the Your Twitter Data section at

    Users will now be able to see which advertisers have included them in their tailored audiences, and use the Twitter Personalization and data section to decide how their information might be shared in conjunction with certain Twitter partnerships, as well as opt out of various data-usage and sharing options.

    7. Facebook adds way for Groups to screen members

    The social network introduced a way for administrators to screen potential Group members via a questionnaire before they are added to the Group. Admins can now add up to three questions that users must respond to prior to being approved for new membership, a move that Mark Zuckerberg thinks will help Facebook Groups serve as true communities and let users more quickly connect with those who share common interests.

    Questions—the answers to which are visible only to admins and moderators—are open-ended, and users can respond to them with up to 250 characters each. Applicants can review and edit their answers until their responses are reviewed by moderators. The new feature could mean helping your brand create more qualified leads via Facebook Groups by more easily screening out potential duds.

    Will you use Facebook Group's new questionnaire feature?

    8. Snapchat unleashes new augmented reality ads for brands

    Snapchat came off a very rough week after its first earnings report with a new ad unit for marketers that gives them the ability to overlay images or words on the world surrounding users' Snaps.

    Unlike other ad units, the new unit, dubbed Sponsored World Lenses, doesn't require users to use the front-facing camera and take a selfie; they can simply scan the world around them and watch magical graphics augment their perspective. Warner Bros. was the first to use the new ad format to promote an upcoming movie.

    Snapchat also launched the ability for marketers to target their face-distorting "Lenses" to users based on age, gender, or the content they view in Snapchat's Discover section.

    9. Bing search results now include chatbots

    Microsoft's search engine, Bing, has decided to include chatbots from Facebook, Slack, Kik, and other chat platforms in its search results. The change comes as bot developers continue to press the likes of Facebook to improve the discoverability of bots—the issue many view as the key factor hindering growth for the once highly anticipated bot revolution.

    The Microsoft Bot Framework now includes over 130,000 developers, and the company has integrated the ability for consumers to make payments and publish bots to Skype for Business, Bing, and Cortana.

    10. Facebook cracks down on fake live videos

    Some brands and publishers have been taking advantage of Facebook's prioritization of Facebook Live videos within its algorithm; they've been producing live streams that serve no other purpose than counting down the days to the end of the year, for example, and Facebook is ready to change that.

    Facebook added a section to its Live API Facebook Platform Policy that states developers shouldn't static, looping, or animated graphics and images, or live-stream polls with unmoving broadcasts. The explicit policy change comes after it was revealed that half of the top 10 Live videos of 2016 weren't actually live.

    11. What social networks influencers care about most

    Looking to incorporate influencer marketing into your social media marketing strategy? Look to Instagram. According to a recent study, the Facebook-owned picture- and video-sharing network is not only the social network used most by influencers, but also the one they focus on most.

    Fully 99% of survey respondents—a group of over 300 influencers—post content on Instagram, with Facebook and Snapchat rounding off the top three platforms with 67% and 51%, respectively. But where do influencers think they'll focus their energy on in 2018? Check out the full post on MarketingProfs for essential details!

    12. We'll wrap with a warning for brands that want to talk like the kids

    Getting #Lit, claiming #SquadGoals, or saying your product or service is on #fleek might not be the best way for your brand to reach its younger consumers. That's according to a report from Sprout Social, which highlights the top behaviors demanded by consumers of brands, and places snark and slang way down on the list of desired messaging.

    Though users initially got a kick out of brands that were early adopters of humor, sass, and incorporating cultural trends on social, their feelings have reportedly cooled, and fans now expect messaging in line with a brand's identity. Now, nearly seven out of ten respondents report brands' using slang as irritating, even if marketers are simply trying to humanize their brand.

    The takeaway? It's time to re-evaluate your brand's approach on social media, ensuring that your identity matches that of your goals as well as your consumers' sensibilities.

    Christian Neri is a digital marketing professional in the film & television industry, and a contributor to MarketingProfs. An American expat in Paris, he recently completed his MS in digital marketing at IÉSEG School of Management.

    Instagram: @christianneri

    Twitter: @christianneri

  • 20 May 2017 11:45 AM | Deleted user

    by Jen Handley  |  May 19, 2017

    Published in MarketingProfs

    With nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) using social networking sites on a daily basis, the quantity of comments online is increasing at an exponential pace. Usually, customers head to social media sites as a first stop on the road to evaluating a purchase of any kind; and 66% of people trust opinions posted online—even by total strangers— according to Nielsen.

    Social media's importance in the sales/marketing funnel is by now undisputed, but visibility into the insights each platform can provide is often clouded by meaningless metrics. With data pouring in from dashboards, are you sure members of your marketing team are taking the time to determine the importance of those insights, and do they even know where to look?

    Here are three ways your team should be using social insights to guide major marketing decisions.

    1. To Understand Your Audience

    Gaining 1,000 new followers on Twitter looks great on paper, but it doesn't necessarily move the needle for your brand. But creating positive, organic conversation can. Understanding your online audience means looking beyond the surface layers of retweets and shares.

    Instead of focusing on what is being said about your brand, focus on who is saying it. How does your engaged audience compare with that of your competitors, and how do they self-describe? These audiences tend to write their own personas (literally); often, their Twitter bios contain their defining characteristics in 140 characters or less.

    For example, Dollar Shave Club, the popular male-focused razor delivery service, realized 26% of social conversation related to it was stemming from a female audience in 2016. Stats like that should spark a conversation about target audiences, and using social media can give you a picture in real-time of the audiences you are reaching, as well as what is important to them.

    2. To Spot Trends Within Target Segments

    Once you understand who your audience is, the next step is to get to know them a bit better. Marketers need to understand what is happening on social media within their target markets—and what it means for their brand if they want to stay abreast of the next big trend coming down the pike.

    Affinity groups, or the segments of your audience that share a common interest or background, are often overlooked. These groups tend to be more fluid than traditional buyer personas. The interests of an affinity group change and transform based on trends and events within their area of interest.

    For example, identifying an affinity group with a shared love of the Harry Potter series at its core can lead to marketing insights based on the trending topics within this group. What was the overall sentiment of the group versus other groups after seeing the latest movie? Are they excited to buy Harry Potter themed merchandise? Do they see any gaps in Harry Potter products available in stores?

    Social media is a place to identify the kinds of topics are important to your brand's audience segments, and incorporate those topics into your content strategy to bring any fringe followers into the fold. Just be careful not to exploit their interests or sensitive social issues. Public brands often face social scrutiny when jumping on the trend-jacking bandwagon.

    If not careful, marketers can easily slip into appearing exploitative about their customers' conversations. Take, for example, Gap and American Apparel's 2012 tweets, which capitalized on chatter surrounding Hurricane Sandy. Although meant to remind shoppers to stay safe, the content angered customers who saw the move as calculating and thoughtless.

    3. To Determine the Success of Marketing Campaigns

    Social data can also be harnessed to dig into brand perception associated with specific marketing initiatives. Tracking keywords affiliated with your most recent branded campaign is a good start, but grading sentiment is where things start to get interesting.

    Say, for example, you recently landed a huge (i.e., expensive) celebrity endorsement. Odds are your team will want to evaluate ROI. Use keywords associated with the celebrity paired with branded keywords to measure volume. Then, pull out common phrases and grade sentiment from positive to neutral to negative to paint a full picture of the social landscape your recent big buy is helping create: Is the reaction completely positive? How much conversation is this celeb driving compared with previous campaigns? And, more important, are new audiences being brought into the conversation?

    2016 was the year of celebrity-founded activewear brands. From Beyoncé's Ivy Park and Kate Hudson's Fabletics to Calia by Carrie Underwood and Impact by Jillian Michaels. Fast fashion companies were popping up left and right. When you compare the brands by looking at key conversation drivers associated with the celebs themselves, Ivy Park pulls away from the pack as the clear winner. While 73% of Calia conversation was driven by Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé drove only 11% of Ivy Park's buzz, showing the brand stood on its own—separate from the celebrity co-founder. This type of insight is invaluable when determining whether your brand will stand the test of time (and the criticism of the Internet).

    Bottom Line

    Many tools are available to pull useful social media data for your marketing team, but nothing is more valuable than simply looking beyond your brand's scheduled posts and direct mentions. Dive into your list of followers and start getting to know them. Set up Twitter lists to segment your audience. Research the trends across each segment, and respond accordingly.

    Social media is the world's biggest, fastest, most honest focus group. Don't let that feedback fall on deaf ears.

  • 18 May 2017 11:28 AM | Deleted user
    By Sweta Patel | May 18, 2017 as published on Social Media Examiner

    Do you want to track the effectiveness of your social media marketing?

    Wondering which social media tactics are paying off?

    By defining and tracking a few key data points, you can determine whether your marketing is on target.

    In this article, you’ll discover seven social media metrics to help you gauge your marketing’s effectiveness.

    #1: Assess Discoverability via Mentions and Inbound Links

    How can you make sure the right people discover you on social media? One way is via your posts. The more your content is dispersed and distributed, the more your business shines and the easier it is for your target audience to find you. If your follower and fan metrics are increasing, your reach is increasing too.

    Your total number of followers or fans is only the initial metric, though. You also need to measure the value of your relationships with followers as seen through their interactions with you. Look at the number of mentions or tags. Do people respond to your posts, share your content, or talk about you?

    The number of mentions corresponds with the number of times someone has mentioned your business. This happens in different ways on different social platforms. Perhaps someone replied on Instagram or Twitter using your tag (@SpeedQueenHome, for example). When someone responds to or interacts with your shared content, there’s often a mention.

    Users might tag your business on social media.

    Users might tag your business on social media.

    Users, fans, and followers can also mention you in their own social posts and comments outside of your content.

    Users might also mention your business by name in their social posts.

    Users might also mention your business by name in their social posts.

    If your audience isn’t mentioning you online, perhaps the content you’re sharing isn’t resonating with them. Consider running a few split tests with your audience before you choose which messages to proliferate.

    While every industry is different, your social media efforts should yield some results such as mentions. If you have a very small following and several mentions, your content and presence are relevant but you need to look into some audience growth strategies.

    If you have a huge following but few interactions and mentions, either your content isn’t relevant or you’ve run ad campaigns that have attracted ill-targeted followers and they’re not doing you any good. Again, the solution is to invest time and energy into growing your audience.

    After you view the number of mentions, you can use a host of third-party tools or Google Search Console to take a look at the number of inbound links. Inbound links show how many times people are linking back to your website or blog. From an SEO perspective, you’re building both authority and discoverability when others share your content.

    Use a third-party tool to see the number of inbound links from each site that links to your content.

    Use a third-party tool to track the number of inbound links your site has.

    #2: Evaluate Engagement From Audience Interaction

    How likely is your audience to share your content? When your followers and fans feel motivated to spread your message, your engagement can increase exponentially.

    You’ll find engagement levels through different metrics in your social media insights. Engagement can be in the form of retweets, forwards to a friend, comments, likes, shares, and inbound links.

    Track various social media metrics to gauge engagement.

    Track various social media metrics to gauge engagement.

    You’ll also want to look at your traffic from social media in Google Analytics. Click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. You must set your dimension to Social to see the full social report based on the channel. From this report, you’ll be able to determine which social network is your best traffic source.

    Look at your Google Analytics to see which social network is delivering the most traffic.

    Look at your Google Analytics to see which social network is delivering the most traffic.

    By analyzing the conversion rates on all of your social channels, you can determine what types of content to promote on each channel. This data gives you a better understanding of how you can publish more on popular topics.

    #3: Measure the Impact of Influencer Marketing

    If you’re looking to amplify your reach and engagement on social media, consider bringing in influencers. Look for influencers who have developed a following that’s relevant to your business. Influencers aren’t competitors, but they’re reaching the very target market you want to touch.

    For example, you could bring influencers to your brick-and-mortar business and have them post about it, or offer them your product for free in return for a shout-out on social media (and possibly their blog, Yelp, etc.).

    So how do you measure the effectiveness of influencer marketing? By understanding the number of brand evangelists and advocates you have, and how they’re helping you grow.

    The first step in building an influencer marketing strategy is to search for influencers who will deliver the most value. A good tool for influencer research is BuzzSumo. You can then use tools like Traackrand GroupHigh to help you maintain relationships with the influencers you’ve identified with BuzzSumo.

    It’s important to know what conversations are being shared with your audience. You also want to know what network is bringing in the most shares. Use unique UTM codes for each influencer to help determine which are driving the most traffic for you.

    You can use UTM codes to track traffic from influencers.

    You can use UTM codes to track traffic from influencers.

    #4: Gauge Sentiment via Your Net Promoter Score and Audience Surveys

    Do you know how your target audience feels about your content and your brand in general? Is the sentiment positive? Or does your content need improvement?

    The net promoter score (NPS) helps you gauge the sentiment of your audience. To calculate your NPSsurvey your customers with the following question: On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being highest, what’s the likelihood that you would recommend us (our company) to a friend or colleague? You can use the NPS Calculator to get an idea of how your brand is measuring up.

    Your Net Promoter Score helps you assess the sentiment of your audience.

    Your Net Promoter Score helps you assess the sentiment of your audience.

    A tool like Mention will also help you gain insight into how your audience feels about your brand. You can see how others view your brand and measure brand sentiment.

    Once you know the sentiment of your audience, develop a series of surveys to understand the sentiment on each social network. Try using 6 different surveys with a sample size of 250 or more on each network to get an average of your best-performing networks. The surveys will let you see how engaged the audience is with your current content and identify areas you can improve.

    The goal is to measure the sentiment for each network.

    #5: Examine Internal Engagement

    Is internal engagement just as important as external engagement? Most teams believe it’s all about building and growing your audience. But how can an audience be passionate about what you do if your team doesn’t set the bar?

    Dynamic Signal is a great tool to gauge your employees’ interest in the content you share.

    Dynamic Signal helps you measure your employees' interest in what you share.

    Dynamic Signal helps you measure your employees’ interest in what you share.

    You can measure your spending against your goals and KPIs. The most effective content assets for measurement include blog posts, ebooks, videos, and presentations.

    #6: Calculate Conversions From Your Social Channels

    Start measuring the conversions from your social media efforts to see if they’re paying off. Conversions include subscription metrics, registered users, and the number of leads from your social media channels. You also need to understand the conversion rate from the social network to the lead.

    Which social networks are converting the most leads? What’s the rate they’re converting leads? You can use Google Analytics to determine your conversion rates.

    Google Analytics can help you determine which social media platforms are converting the most leads.

    Google Analytics can help you determine which social media platforms are converting the most leads.

    #7: Determine the ROI of Your Social Media

    At the end of the day, the big question is how many sales are you generating from your social media marketing? What’s the cost per lead?

    If you set up UTM URLs for each action, you’ll be able to view the metrics you need to understand which programs are paying offand which programs need improvement.

    You can use a single-touch attribution model, which allows you to see if the lead came in from a single source of social media. This can be in the form of first touch or last touch. What was the lead’s first activity with you? What was their last activity?

    If you use the multi-touch model, you’ll be able to determine if the lead came in from multiple sources.

    For example, suppose users do a Google search for your site and then see two social posts on Facebook. Next, they decide to go on Twitter to download your latest ebook, which they then purchased. This would give 40% of the weight to Google and the ebook and 20% credit to the two social posts on Facebook.

    Determine which model is best for your business and understand how social media is impacting revenue within the organization.


    In your efforts to become a shining star on social media, you’ll need to pay attention to these seven metrics. Each one gives you insight into your accomplishments. Together, they empower you and your business to continue on the path to creating a relevant brand presence with a positive ROI.

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