89% of social media marketers are bad at analytics

During the Social Media Marketing World 2016 keynote yesterday, Michael Stelzner revealed the fairly startling statistic:

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89% of marketers believe that exposure is the top benefit of social media. This tells me 89% of social media marketers are bad at analytics. Consider the statement we make when we say exposure is a top benefit. Exposure must lead to something else. Exposure must lead to website visitors, to new subscribers, to leads generated, and ultimately to sales made. The top benefit of social media shouldn’t be exposure. The top benefit should be revenue.

Why do marketers believe this incredible fallacy? Consider how we report social media marketing to our stakeholders. We use metrics like impressions or followers. These are important numbers, to be sure: if impressions equal zero and followers equal zero, our social media efforts would be completely ineffective. However, if we stop our measurement process at the very top of the funnel or at the very beginning of the customer journey, we have no idea how our company benefits from our work.

We have an analytics crisis in social media marketing. We have a measurement crisis in digital marketing. The worst part is the crisis is completely unnecessary. Chances are we have all the tools we need to make a legitimate analysis of how social media accelerates our sales pipeline, or how social media attracts new audiences.

Except for Snapchat (which provides no analytics), most popular social media platforms have decent top of funnel analytics we can export.

Every marketer should have access to a great web analytics package like Google Analytics.

Every marketer should have access to a marketing automation platform and/or CRM, even if it’s just a Mailchimp account.

With these tools, we can develop a real, data-driven analysis of social media’s impact on our company. The measurement crisis should have been over years ago. Instead, it seems as though social media marketers have two feet firmly planted in the past.

We can measure social media.

We can judge its impact on our overall marketing.

We can understand how social media contributes to business goals like revenue.

How do we start? In our companies, we need an executive sponsor to commit to measurement. Commit time. Commit budget. Commit people. With the right tools, knowledge, and people, we can measure social media well.


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How to spot social media fakers, bots, and dummy accounts

Ever wonder if a LinkedIn profile is legitimate or not? Ever questioned whether a Twitter account retweeting you is a real person? Bots have always plagued social media, but as developers become more sophisticated, it’s easier than ever to create a real-looking social media account. I’ve certainly gotten invites and connection requests from people I didn’t know, but whose titles or employers piqued my interest.

We don’t want to waste our time trying to connect with machines; worse, we don’t want to accept a machine connection because of the inevitable flood of spammy content that will ensue. The hidden cost of connecting with a bot is the enormous time suck it imposes on you, filtering and cleaning out inboxes.

We have a useful detection method to help us: Google Image Search. Why? Spammers and bots tend to use stock photos or stolen images on multiple accounts. They’re lazy, and automated tools make it easy to set up thousands of fake accounts with the same profile picture.

Use a browser with Google Image Search enable, such as Chrome. Right click and search the profile image on Google Image Search:

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If you see this in the search results, it’s probably a bot account:

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Busted.

In contrast, let’s look at what a legitimate profile appears as:

spot a social media bot

Most people tend to use the same image on many different social networks, so a quick scan of the search results should reveal whether this LinkedIn profile is the real deal. In this case, it is:

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Richard is the real deal. He’s got accounts on multiple networks with the same profile picture.

If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of a connection request or a follower, using Google Image Search is an easy way to tell. It’s not foolproof – after all, spammers and scammers can easily lift a profile picture from anywhere. But generally speaking, it is reliable, especially since scammers and spammers won’t go to the effort of making matching accounts on multiple networks.

This brings up an important point: from time to time, search your own profile image. Find out if someone else has hijacked your identity, and if they have, report them to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or the social network’s abuse department. Protect your own image!


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Twitter audience marketing growth hack

Twitter, despite its woes as a company, has plenty to offer marketers, including what may be the most amazing competitive intelligence hack ever. By hack, I mean a usable trick, not a violation of law. Want to know how your audience stacks up against a competitor? This Twitter audience marketing growth hack will help.

We begin with Twitter Audience Insights. If you’re not familiar, Twitter released this last year as a competitive option to Facebook’s Audience Insights, to prove Twitter could help marketers gain more insight into their audiences. To find it, log into Ads.Twitter.com and visit the Analytics tab, then choose Audience Insights:

Audience Insights Growth Hack

Once you’re in, you’ll see Twitter’s general audience. You can add your followers for comparison:

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Above, we see all Twitter in the dark maroon bars, and mine in the pinkish color in the main section; on the right, we see household income. Twitter says my audience, my followers are more affluent than the average Twitter user.

This is a useful comparison to understand our audience versus the general population. Let’s now get into hacking territory. Instead of the broad audience, click on the audience menu and see what other options we have. The important one is Tailored Audiences:

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Twitter Tailored Audiences are audiences we upload to Twitter via the Audience Manager:

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We choose to create a new audience from our own list:

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And here’s the hack: we can upload any list of Twitter handles we want. Which means we can upload a competitor’s followers list:

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Where would you get such a list? Easy: go to the competitor’s Twitter profile page and extract it. It’s public information – which is why this is a marketing hack but neither illegal nor unethical. We can also use tools like FollowerWonk or Sysomos MAP to gather follower lists.

Once the Tailored Audience is uploaded and processed – which can take up to a day – go back to Audience Insights and add the competitor’s list to the tool. We can then compare our followers vs. our competitor’s followers:

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From here, we can draw conclusions about the kinds of followers we have versus what our competitors have. Analyze income, professions, and more:

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Above, we see that the competitor’s audience is on par by income, slightly more imbalanced gender-wise, and more self-employed. If my business doesn’t serve the self-employed, then I know my Twitter audience strategy is delivering better results than my competitor’s.

Twitter Audience Insights are a powerful tool for understanding not only our audience, but our competitors’ audiences as well. Audience Insights can lend understanding to both B2B and B2C marketers, though B2C will benefit more from the broader lifestyle and consumer behavior sections.

Conveniently, if we find a competitor’s Tailored Audience to be more on target than ours, we simply launch an advertising campaign to the competitor’s Tailored Audience to recruit them.

Try this Twitter audience marketing growth hack to compare your Twitter audience building efforts to your competitors and then take action to build the audience you want!


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