Free analytics tools give you a chance to see how your social media accounts have grown in scale but little info is provided to formulate a solid marketing strategy.
The free tools share one commonality; they typically provide shallow or inaccurate results. What makes the results shallow or inaccurate? Here are 6 reasons why you should ditch your free social media analytics tools and start considering allocating budget for an accurate and high-quality social media analytics service - and it actually doesn’t even cost as much as you think!
1. Only quantitative metrics
Facebook Insights Page, Instagram Insights, and Twitter Analytics usually show you an overview of your company’s social page or the advert campaign you are currently working on. A bunch of quantitative metrics such as the number of followers, comments, likes, tweets or retweets, measured daily/monthly/weekly, are collected and presented visually for you to quickly see how well your brand image has grown on social media.
They also analyze videos but only focus on counting the number of clicks and the average time the viewers spend on watching them.
These quantitative metrics are just not enough to formulate a strategic marketing plan. In order to succeed in any of your marketing campaigns, you need to be able to analyze the qualitative aspect of your social media activities. Especially important is the sentiment analysis of your audience’s conversation. Is your brand image positive or negative in social media discussions? Who are the top positive influencers for your brand? The result you get must also be accurate by removing noise from the data collected. Free analytics tools just won’t be able to do this.
2. Limited analyzing scope
Free social media analytics tools usually monitor followers’ reactions to your own posts and activities within your own accounts.
But these tools typically don’t monitor and analyze relevant mentions that are posted outside of your own accounts. And usually, what is being said about your brand outside of your own accounts is what determines and affects your true brand image.
A proper social media analytics tool must be able to determine what people are talking about you beyond your own page, thereby providing unbiased public perspective towards your brand. It should also be capable of tracking hot trends in your industry to help you generate more attractive and relevant content that would reach the hearts of your target audience.
3. Inaccurate sentiment analysis
Some free social media analytics tools do some sort of sentiment analysis by categorizing data into positive, neutral, or negative sentiment. For example, if your followers are commenting about your brand with a tone of approval, advocacy, excitement, etc., then it’s positive. By understanding the sentiment towards your brand image, you can modify your PR strategy and content to fit to your target audience’s taste and make sure that there are no negative sentiment going around.
So now you think, if free social media analytics tools can do sentiment analysis, then what’s wrong with using a free version?
The biggest and the most serious problem with free tools is that sentiment analysis is completely inaccurate because free tools are incapable of interpreting complicated data that is combined with images, sarcasm, irony, mis-spellings, and jokes.
Only a high-quality social media analytics service that is equipped with the most sophisticated and advanced technology, combined with human intelligence, can conduct sentiment analysis with an extremely high level of accuracy.
Read more about this important topic in my other blog “Sentiment analysis is totally fu**ed up!”. ”
4. Incapable of filtering out irrelevant data
Some free tools do an excellent job of tracking keywords and hashtags that you set into the free dashboard to monitor. But it does a poor job of analyzing whether those are really relevant to your brand.
Take a brief look at the brand NIKE. NIKE fans typically use #JustDoIt when commenting something about NIKE products. So if NIKE were to be using a free social media analytics tool and wanting to know the amount of #JustDoIt posts there are, or the sentiment related to those posts, they will get a result that is completely off the track.
Try searching #justdoit on Twitter yourself. You will get a mixture of posts, both relevant and irrelevant to NIKE.
This is a relevant #justdoit post:
This is an irrelevant #justdoit post:
Without filtering out irrelevant content while tracking the trends, the result might be unrealistically inflated, resulting in serious delusion and inappropriate marketing approaches.
Read more on this important topic from my other blog “Why do you need to clean data in social analytics?”.
5. Little hope for influencer marketing
Few analytics tools support influencer marketing. Those that do, for instance Twitter Analytics, track the list of names you want to track, and will provide you with basic metrics such as the follower sum, engagement volume, and the number of reach/impressions of a specific post.
But those tools usually exclude identifying the sentiment of the audience towards your influencer. If and when negative sentiment intensifies in your audience's reaction towards the mutual content with your influencer, it could be because your influencer is involved in controversial issues. You won’t be able to notice these types of changes of sentiment towards your influencers unless you have high-quality analytics that monitors real-time sentiment of your audience related to your influencers’ posts. Before you know it, your business relationship with your influencer might end up damaging your brand image.
Also, free analytics tools aren't capable of suggesting you top influencer candidates who would suit your brand. Working with micro-influencers, who already have a positive sentiment towards your brand, is an excellent approach to start influencer marketing campaigns, than working with celebrities who cost a lot. Investing in high-quality analytics service is peanuts if you compare to all the work and investment that needs to go into doing influencer marketing.
6. It’s actually never “free”
I need to emphasize that nothing is free, especially in the business world. Some social media analytics tools can be free as long as you have one user, or you are following one topic. These tool providers then allow you to use the free version until they make you realize that you should actually buy an upgraded costly version to have more features, which are actually important to you.
Another type of free social analytics tools is those such as Facebook Pages Insights, Facebook Audience Insights, or Twitter Analytics, directly provided by the social media platforms themselves. Before utilizing these analytics tools, you have to create either a paid advertising campaign or a commercial page. And of course these are dedicated to their own social media platform so you won’t get a bigger picture of how you perform across these various platforms.
Then there are these “free” versions that come on top of, for instance, CRM. Microsoft CRM provides you with a social media analytic tool for free as long as you use their paid CRM solution. But these types of providers are in no way specialized in social media analytics. All you will get is inaccurate data and results, which will only throw you off the track when formulating a marketing strategy.
If you think about all the marketing budget you have for your company, investing into high-quality social media analytics service is really …. nothing. Why would you then risk using free versions, which provides you with only shallow or inaccurate results?
Every marketer has to be a data scientist. Basing your decisions on accurate data will bring you forward in the right direction. And above all, social media analytics service will do all the work for you, so that you can cut out all the manual work that is needed in maintaining a dashboard or creating a graphical summary that you need to present to your management team.
What have you got to lose?