The Best Free and Paid Social Media Analytics Tools
By Kit SmithSep 21
How has consumer behavior changed in 2022, and what does this mean for brands?
Published June 30th 2016
The idea of paid, owned and earned media has been around for quite some time. Relying too heavily on one marketing stream can leave you vulnerable should an unexpected change reduce its output, so it’s important to get a balance of sources when it comes to your marketing.
There are undoubtedly gray areas and overlaps, but this doesn’t make the distinctions irrelevant. These three spheres influence each other in differing ways. It is useful to understand the difference and how to measure your efforts in each one and come to understand how they affect each other.
Paid media is the simplest to understand of the three channels, consisting of any marketing that you pay for. Traditionally this would include TV adverts, radio spots, and print advertising.
Online, there are a few subcategories. Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts are a popular form of paid media. Search engine advertising is one of the most common forms of PPC. Advertisers can bid on keywords that will be displayed above the organic search results. As the name suggests, you pay every time someone clicks on the advert to be directed to your website.
Banner adverts, though decreasing in popularity and effectiveness, in part due to ad-blocking software, fall into the paid media category. This also includes retargeting, where customers who have bounced off your site are presented with your adverts elsewhere on the web.
A relatively new sphere of paid media is sponsored social media posts. The algorithm changes introduced by many social networks have resulted in reduced organic reach, so paying to boost the number of people exposed to adverts has increased accordingly.
Owned media consists of the content you create and publish on a channel you own. This includes your website and blog, any ebooks and white papers you publish, and the content you distribute on your social media channels.
Owned media is primarily driven by your content marketing strategy. Providing valuable, educational content that is not overly self-promotional is the mainstay of owned media for many organizations. Promoting this content on social media is key to distributing it widely.
Earned media consists of all the content and conversation around your brand or product that has been created by somebody else and published somewhere other than your owned channels.
It is gained as a result of your efforts in paid and owned. You can think of it as the amplification of your activity, as news sites and social media users pick up on your campaigns and help spread the word.
Earned media can include press coverage, social media mentions, shares and retweets, product or company reviews, and blog posts authored outside your company. Increasing the visibility and reach of your content through social media engagement will increase your earned media.
The social media aspect of earned media brings the customer voice into your marketing strategy, and highlights the importance of increasing social media engagement.
Earned media is valuable as it tends to be more trusted and credible. The potential for increased organic reach on social is why brand advocates and influencers have become such an important part of the marketing mix. The value of press mentions and the PR team is just as valuable as ever.
How you measure paid media will depend on the platform you have advertised on.
For promoted social media posts, internal analytics software is offered by some social networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest all have built in analytics. Instagram has yet to offer its own option, although there are plenty of third-party Instagram analytics tools available. Alternatively, a dedicated social analytics software can track these posts and much more besides.
For PPC, Google AdWords offers analysis of your Google paid campaigns, while Bing Ads covers Yahoo! and Bing.
There are also a number of tools such as SEMRush or SpyFu that track paid search performance in addition to organic search and SEO efforts.
In Google Analytics, paid search, paid social and display are all separate channels, so you can track which paid campaigns drove traffic to your website and resulted in sales or new leads.
Measuring owned media can be done in the analytics platform of the social network you are using. Again, a dedicated social analytics tool can provide detailed analysis that helps measure your efforts in greater detail.
Owned media analysis in Brandwatch covers Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, via our Channels feature. This allows in-depth analysis of your owned media channels, as well as those of your competitors.
For an overview, examine your channel to get a feeling of what is working and what isn’t. Metrics to look at here include posts, comments, likes, ‘people talking about this’ followers, retweets, @mentions, and audience and owner impressions. Starting with these metrics, and diving deeper into the platform gives you in-depth insight into your community and content.
You can identify which types of content are performing best, and apply those learnings to future campaigns. You can compare with your competitors’ channels to uncover opportunities, and understand strengths and weaknesses. You can grow your community and drive brand advocacy by discovering the most influential and active fans and nurturing them.
Of course, the ultimate goal behind your content and social marketing strategies is not likes and retweets but to move consumers along the buyer journey. You will want to dive into your web analytics software, such as Google Analytics, to understand if your strategy is driving new customers.
This is easier in some cases than others. You can create goals in Google Analytics to understand the channels that are contributing to downloads, sign-ups, demo requests and so on. While you can track traffic that comes from social media, separating owned from earned can be tricky. Nonetheless, by studying the owned vs earned mix, you can improve your content to increase your effectiveness.
Earned media consists of any mentions of your brand that are outside your owned channels. This will include a variety of sources, including news sites, forums, blogs, and social media.
A social analytics tool, like Brandwatch Analytics, is the easiest way to monitor all these mentions across the web and ensure you don’t miss any. By excluding your own channels, you can track the earned mentions wherever they appear.
The advantage of earned media is that a primary source of the information is the voice of the customer, which means further insights can be gleaned from a deeper dive into the data.
The best place to start in order to gain an overview is by measuring share of voice. This will give you an understanding of your earned mentions, while placing it in context within the industry and allow you to benchmark your progress against the competition.
For calculating share of voice, Brandwatch Analytics allows you to create rules and categories that automate the process and monitor developments as they happen.
Comparative sentiment analysis can also be easily viewed here. In your competitor set, one brand may have more mentions, but a lower net sentiment. Monitoring this over time can provide valuable information for crisis comms and campaign intelligence. Some industries naturally have higher negative or positive sentiment, so sentiment share of voice provides context.
PR practitioners are primarily concerned with earned media, and social analytics simplifies the process of finding and categorizing press mentions. Brandwatch assists PR strategy by automatically categorizing mentions into page types, making it easy to dive into news mentions and categorize them by quality of mention.
Many PR professionals and marketers find it useful to assign advertising value equivalency (AVE) to web mentions. This isn’t without its problems but does bring the numbers into the real world with a dollar value.
Of course, not all mentions will be positive. Earned media should be monitored for any negative mentions so that you can monitor your reputation and proactively deal with situations as they emerge.
Earned social shares will help to improve your content strategy. Discovering your most shared content helps you to understand your audience and what they want to read, the headlines and tweets that have engaged them. By monitoring these metrics you can also discover the most influential individuals sharing your content, and reach out to these influencers to enhance the relationship.
Also worth assessing are your Top Stories and your Top Hashtags. By comparing your owned vs. earned hashtags, you can quickly understand how well your official hashtags are adopted, which other hashtags are used alongside them, and which phrases your audience are most likely to tweet.
Monitoring what your customers are saying about you brings their needs and frustrations to the front of your operations. Using emailed reports and command center software the voice of the customer can be brought to the heart of the business, making it visible to everyone.
For marketers, having visibility of your earned media demonstrates the fruits of your labor and reinforces the importance of listening to your customers. We have our Brandwatch Vizia software displaying our earned media in the Brandwatch reception, meaning everyone in the company can see it on a daily basis.
Monitoring paid, owned and earned media will give you an understanding of how buzz around your brand is created and where you can influence it. Using a social analytics tool can help uncover more detailed insights within each channel. That knowledge can then be fed back into your operations to improve your messaging, and amplify your content further than before.
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