Social Media Fail #3 – Data Without Analysis Is Just Numbers

In the last installment on social media fails, I gave a basic overview of how to conduct simple audience research to help you understand who your fans are and what they do online. But that data without analysis is just numbers. You have only half of the equation you need to succeed.

social media fails

On the Simply Measured blog, Kevin Shively said it like this: “Social analytics is a system that allows for the collection, aggregation, and standardization of social media data to discover and communicate meaningful patterns.” In simpler terms, social analytics is where you take the audience data you have collected, put it in summary form, and analyze patterns and outliers to help you plan and make strategic marketing decisions.

Using Data To Inform Your Marketing Plan

After you collect your audience research you are ready to put the data in a summary form where it can be analyzed and used for marketing decisions. Survey Monkey allows you to put together these summary reports directly from your survey.  This is also where I can separate my data into demographic reports. For instance, I can filter my results for 18-24 year olds and see all the resulting answers to questions from that group. If I was an author, I probably asked my survey participants what genres they like to read in a ranking list. Then, I can filter all the answers to my survey questions through one particular genre if I like. Here is an example of a gender question summary from a survey did for a client.


I can formulate a general takeaway based on this one report alone. For instance, if 18-24 year olds are a big part of my potential fan base, I need to do some work to get them engaged with my brand. Only four of the 262 fans who voluntarily took my email survey came from that age group. Since this is a bit of a gaping hole, the next phase of my data analysis would look deeper at their online behavior, compare that to national data (like Pew Internet reports), and start to formulate strategy to connect with that age group.

Make sure that your social media goals are part of a cohesive overall plan. You can make this plan as detailed or as simple as you like. The important thing is just put one together that can function as a guide for your marketing decisions. Don’t get bogged down here. But do start with a plan. Check out my brand-building series for help in putting a simple social media marketing plan together.

Data is valueless without analysis that helps you to plan strategy. The more you get to know your audience, the less time you need to spend on guessing who is out there and more time creating content they will want to interact with.

If you have any questions about basic audience surveys, I’d love to hear from you. If I can’t answer your questions, I can direct you to somebody who can. If you’re interested in a deeper understanding, here are some valuable resources I recommend.

  1. Measure What Matters by Katie D. Paine (very comprehensive with information for several different sectors)
  2. How To Measure Social Media by Nichole Kelly

Other links in the series:

Social Media Fail #1 – Tools Without A Toolbox

Social Media Fail #2 – Who Are These People