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.
Digital analytics has become somewhat of a dirty buzzword for those in the communications industry lately. Ironically though, it has been the theme of my third week into the fall semester at Newhouse. From Sysomos training for my research course, to my continued work as Dr. Ford’s research assistant, I’ve found myself regaining my appreciation for the science behind gathering meaningful analysis.
Whether you like it or not, public relations and analytics are becoming synonymous with each other. It’s not just enough for PR professionals to communicate their clients’ message, but they also have to prove that those messages are effective. Best of all, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have decent analytics in place as social media tools like Facebook and Twitter offer dashboards for you to see how your content is performing.
Here are some ways that analytics can be a beneficial tool for public relations professionals:
Finding your biggest advocates – One of the best things you could have in PR is a loyal fan who’s willing to go to bat for you. They’re the ones who are always sharing your content and are usually the first to leave comments. The frequency with which your biggest fans share your content is a metric you could utilize in addition to recognizing them for their free promotion.
Following the process – If you have a registration process for attracting donations or purchases, you can use analytics to determine the likelihood of visitors to complete the process, also known as the conversion rate. High-end tools like ForeSee, and easy-to-use tools like Google Analytics, allow you to set up tracking codes to determine where visitors might be losing interest and leaving your site, especially if it’s in the middle of a process.
Timing your visitors’ stay – If you’re putting out content that features multiple elements, you’ll want to find out how much visitors are engaging with it. With tracking codes on your website, you can find out just how much time the average user is interacting with your site’s pages. For instance, if you embed a five minute video on a webpage, you might be concerned if visitors are spending listen than five minutes on that page.
What you’re doing right – If you’re putting out a steady stream of content you eventually want to know what type of messaging works for your audience. By keeping track of metrics such as likes, visits and page views, you can notice trends that are more effective than others.
What you’re doing wrong – Of course if you find that engagement with your posts are low you can use analytics to figure out why your messaging isn’t resonating with audiences. You could also use sites like justunfollow.com to see if you’re losing your audience on social media.
With this in mind, I’d hope that more PR professionals will come to recognize digital analytics not as a niche area, but as part of the overall strategy. Just as PR has become integrated with advertising and marketing, digital analytics will continue to make its way into the mix for years to come.