Last week I gave you reasons why public relations professionals should embrace digital analytics since it was a common theme among my courses and projects. Another discussion about digital analytics spilled over into the earlier part of this week as my Advanced PR Writing for Digital Platforms class had a speaker presentation. The assistant director of social media for Syracuse University shared some helpful insights for us as we consider developing social media strategies for our prospective clients or employers.
Hearing our speaker’s presentation gave me additional ideas for reasons why PR professionals should embrace the tools of digital analytics. As it specifically pertains to social media, gaining knowledge of analytics can be helpful in the following ways:
- Determine your audience’s demographics – When developing a communications strategy, it’s usually common practice to know your target audience or primary publics. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have analytics dashboards that can help you determine if you’re really reaching them or another unintended audience. Characteristics you can find are average ages, ethnicity, and geographic location among others.
- Find out when they’re viewing your posts – There are a ton of articles out there which will tell you that there’s a specific time to post on social media – usually between 1 and 3 p.m. on Facebook. These articles, however, take a generalist approach and assume that what works for one page works for the other. Once your communications strategy is implemented, you may find that your target audience requires a different approach.
- Uncover their purchasing preferences – What might be creepy to know is that analytics can dig more than just your audience’s demographics. Analytics uses tracking codes that can tell you where your audience likes to shop and what items they like to buy. That’s when you can use this information to publish social media ads that tie-in to their purchasing habits.
- Find out what they’re saying about you – Analytics is useful for finding the conversations which your audience is having about you. At a basic level, you can use searches on Twitter and Instagram to find almost every post that mentions your brand’s hashtag or name. At an advanced level though, you can use tools such as Foresee, Ubervu and Meltwater to get a general scope whether those conversations are positive or negative.
- Create social media ads geared towards their interests – Once you use analytics to find out the information you need, you can use its many tools to figure out the best way to reach them. As one example, Facebook allows you to “boost” certain posts beyond those who’ve liked your page. Of course it’ll involve a monetary investment, but you can spend as little as $1 for five days to expand your posts, and your page, to a broader audience.
It’s inevitable that understanding digital analytics will be crucial for public relations professionals going forward. However, those who understand its tools and tricks sooner will reap the benefits of being able to communicate well-crafted messages that speak exactly to their public’s tastes.