The Problem with Social Analytics

There are dozens of analytics platform providers out there, but every one of them tends to miss something vital when it comes to reporting.

For those of you that don’t know me, my first career, and my undergraduate degree, were in engineering. One of the first things that I learned as an engineer is that it takes metrics and analytics to run a process. Over the years I’ve transitioned from engineering, to operations and now into social media. And as I’ve designed social media operations teams and structures, I’ve consistently become more annoyed with the fact that there aren’t better systems available for analytics and live tracking of tickets. It’s impossible to cleanly manage an operational team when you can’t clearly see what is going on.

There are dozens of analytics platform providers out there, but every one of them tends to miss something vital when it comes to reporting. For example, our current provider can’t link Message data with Case data. Since all posts and case management is done through the tool, this seems like a huge miss. In my previous manufacturing role for Owens Corning I managed the implementation of ApenTech for our plant. This system allowed me to see every single thermocouple temperature, chemistry mixture, machine speed or quality test for the entire plant. It had a beautiful layout with clickable drill down points that allowed me to either get a high level view of how everything was going, or look closely at an individual section of the plant. My question has been, why can’t we do this for social? There are metrics in over-abundance for social media. Why can’t we get this organized in a way that allows operational teams to quickly get a pulse on what is happening with their support groups? Every time a platform demonstrates their analytics package to me, I end up seeing this incredibly pretty but altogether useless bubble chart. And if it’s not a bubble chart it’s something else equally useless for operational management. How do I justify more headcount, or a change in operations based on the chat below. What does that even tell me?
Useless Social AnalyticsSo here’s my conundrum: If you’re building out an operational platform that has hundreds of analytic points available, why wouldn’t you use them? If someone could create a live process map to display and track social operations like the one below, enterprise level companies would literally throw money at them. Each node would allow you to click in and get more detail as to what is happening. You’d have filters to set your time constraints, or filter by team. And most importantly, you’d be able to see the whole life cycle of social support in a single view. My only real question is, why hasn’t someone done this yet?

Create a social analytics process map.


Social Media Support ROI: Tracking Link Clicks

Learn how to manage, track and apply financial values to your shared links in Social Media.

Once you understand the difference between Post Based Metrics and Action Based Metrics you are ready to start tracking your different social analytics. One of the first metrics you want to start tracking for both customer engagement, and publication, will be link clicks. And like everything else related to Social Media, there are multiple ways to handle this.

Tracking traffic through your publishing software

When publishing posts for your company, you should always leverage a publishing software. This allows you to schedule your posts in advance, provide multiple employees access to your handle, and multiple other benefits. The platform also will track the click-through traffic associated with posts made.

The benefit associated with this type of link tracking comes from being directly tied to your publishing activity. At the end of the month you’ll receive a list of posts made, total link clicks, clicks per post, and all other related social metrics.

The Short-Fall associated with this type of tracking comes from the fact that the reporting time constraint is post based. Any time period that you run a report on, will only provide metrics for the items published during that period. The report will exclude metrics for actions taken by the customer during that period on posts that were published prior to that date range. This sounds like a fairly small adjustment, but it can have significant impacts on your metrics.

Tracking traffic through your link shortener

A link shortener is another tool that should always be employed when publishing to social media channels. It allows you to provide a clean, and user friendly link to customers instead of the often ungainly link associated with corporate websites. It also provides the opportunity to brand your url’s, which builds trust with your users and expands visibility of your company’s footprint. Link shorteners are also time constrained by actions instead of publish date. This will help to provide a better picture of what your customers have done, and how they have interacted with your links, during the reporting time frame.

The downfall of tracking your links through your link shortener is that you have now dissociated your click traffic from your publishing activity. You will be able to report on all active links, and their total traffic within a given month, but you won’t know what post that traffic and link is associated with. Additionally, once a customer lands on your website, you no longer have visibility into what actions the customer took after clicking on the original link.

Lastly, if your link is copied and shared by your customers they are likely to replace your link shortener with their own. This will eliminate your ability to track incoming traffic associated with the original post. This especially impactful if a news source, or major blog, picks up your post and shares it on their site. This could lead to thousands of clicks that are no longer associated with your social campaign.

Tracking traffic through your Web Analytics

(Campaign Tracking)

Using Campaign Tracking to tag your shared links enables the ability to directly link your outbound posts to activities taken on your website. At the most basic: Campaign Tracking is accomplished by adding parameters at the end of your url. For example: This tells your web analytics to group all traffic associated with the utm_source “twittercare” together.

The advantages associated with enabling campaign tracking can be broken down into five categories:

  • Campaign tracking is an Action Based Time Constrain metric. When you pull reporting for the month of January, you will see all actions taken on your links, and your website, within that month.
  • Each link generated with a Campaign Tracking code serves as a unique url. This means that if a website, news source or blog shares your link you know that the only way they got the link was from your social post.
  • Unlike short urls, which are often replaced when a link is reposted, 99% of users will never strip off your campaign tracking. This keeps intact your ability to track traffic associated with the original post.
  • Well-designed Campaign Tracking can enable visibility into the entire customer journey, from social post all the way through to authenticated login or purchase.
  • Campaign Tracking is part of your web analytics platform. So anything you track for your website, like sales or authentication, can also be tracked using a Campaign.

Setting up Campaign tracking is different for each Web Analytics platform out there, but they all work basically the same. The similarity across platforms allows for the standardization of best practices, and implementation.

Learn how to use link tracking tags including UTM Codes, and Adobe link tracking

When using a social publishing platform like Sprinklr, you can automate every link sent out to have Campaign Tracking added. This greatly simplifies the process of adding the codes, and ensures that every agent publishing links is correctly adding the codes. If you are using a platform that does not automate the addition on Campaign Codes, like SalesForce, then you will need to create a simple and quick process for adding the codes to your outbound links. (We built a widget that added the Campaign code and shortened the link).

Some best practices to get you started:

  • Every code should start with one repeating piece. Such as utm_source=socialcare. This will ensure that when you are pulling reports everything is grouped together, and you aren’t trying to track down all of the codes that have been used.
  • Always add a timestamp. This ensures that every link is unique, and will give you an idea of the lifespan of your shared links.
  • Determine what is most important to your organization: Is it knowing which Call Center shard the link, what social channel it was shared on, or what contact type it was. The potential list can be endless so prioritize and build this into your design.
  • Remember that these codes are publically visible. Don’t include agent names or anything else that might negatively impact your employees or company.


Understanding the Value you’ve driven.

After you have begun adding Campaign Tracking to your links, you can begin to calculate the value that your shared links drive. Your customer support managers are sharing links to digital self-service and support sites, so utilization of the shared links is viewed as contact deflection. When supporting customers within social, additional customers are capable of leveraging the links shared for self-service. This drives incremental value beyond the one-to-one interaction.

The calculation we created leverages the concept of Contact Deflection, with additional funnel reductions to drive a conservative value.

Distributed Click-Through Value = Total monthly clicks on shared links (Unique Users) * Average additional click through rate for shared links (71%) [ 1] * Containment Rate (70%) [ 2] * Average value of a support contact ($7) [ 3]

  1. This reduction allows you to remove the traditional one-to-one relationship, and calculate value on the one-to-many aspect of social: Based on an average click through rate of 3.5. A click through rate of 1 would show a one-to-one relationship. This provides us a 2.5 click rate of additional value or, 71.4% distributed additional value from the shared links.
  2. The Containment Rate is a measurement of the percentage of self-service users that do not need to contact your support centers after using their support channels. This can be found either through surveys, or software solutions.
  3. The average value of a support contact comes from your support centers. This is the value that your company did not incur for contacts.



Tracking traffic through your Publishing Software:

  • Positive: Your click through numbers are directly related to the posts being made.
  • Negative: Reports will only include clicks on links shared within the time period, ignoring all other active content.

Tracking traffic through your URL Shortener:

  • Positive: Reports will include all click activity that happens within the chosen timeframe.
  • Negative: Shortened links are disassociated with the outbound message, limiting your awareness of what message went with the link.
  • Negative: It is hard to understand the “Created” date of a short url.

Tracking traffic through your Campaign Codes:

  • Positive: Reports will include all click activity that happens within the chosen timeframe.
  • Positive: You can design your Campaign Codes to track back to the original post.
  • Positive: Your Campaign Code is a part of your web analytics. This is the only tool that allows you to see the full customer journey from Social through to Purchase or self-service.
  • Negative: Not all publishing platforms can automatically generate Campaign Tagging. This is a barrier to implementation.


Post Based Metrics | Action Based Metrics