What is Social Analytics?

What is Social Analytics?

Social Analytics refers to the collection and analysis of statistical, digital data on how users interface with an organization, particularly online.

Over the last decade, social analytics has become a primary form of business intelligence, used to identify, predict, and respond to consumer behaviour. Throughout our everyday lives, when browsing on an online store, using a member card to buy groceries on sale, or sharing special offers from our favourite coffee shop on our social networks, each of us continually drops pieces of intelligence.
With nearly every click we make, data about our online activity is being collected; it would be difficult to find a website that didn’t monitor and analyse its usage in some way. Some websites use only one social analytics tool (e.g. UBC uses Google Analytics), while others use many more. Indeed, this site is being analysed using Google Analytics. Social analytics programs enable analysts to glimpse meaningful trends in this mass of data.

For ETEC 522, we are concerning ourselves with two forms of social analytics that have applicability to learning technologies: web analytics and social media analytics.

Web Analytics

In its most elemental form, website administrators use a social analytics service, such as Google Analytics - the most widely used social analytics tool globally - to capture and analyse data including:
  • site visits and unique site visits (i.e. unique, independent visitors as opposed to one visitor visiting a site multiple times)
  • the pages that are the most and the least viewed
  • search terms used to find the site
  • physical location of site visitors (city/country) and the time of day that most visitors access the site
  • the last page site visitors access before leaving 
  • the web browsers and operating systems that visitors use (for instance, the Google Analytics on this page reveals that our team includes three Windows and one Mac users, and two Firefox and two Chrome users!)
This information can be used to identify which parts of a website are effectively serving the site owner’s objectives (“Which links are directing lots of traffic to my site? Should I deepen my relationship with that organization?”), and which are detracting from those objectives (“Why do people leave my site from that page more than from any others?”).

Social Media Analytics

Google Analytics first launched in 2005. In the last two to three years, we have witnessed the emergence of more sophisticated social analytics tools that measure an organization’s 'influence' over social media. These analytics perform this task
by collecting and analysing data related to a given organization across various social media sites (“Do people tweet favourably about my company? Do they tweet about it at all?” "What are the major trends in my field that we can see over social media? How can I capitalize on them?"). This data can help to provide useful demographic information on who an organization's audience is. Consider, for instance, the following graphic developed by Viralheat which compares television ratings with the number of mentions a show gets over social media. How do you think the intelligence gathered by social media might be useful to the show's producers and advertisers?

(source: www.viralheat.com)

Social media analytics helps organizations to identify which social media tools and strategies are measurably benefiting their objectives -- and which have a neutral effect or may even be hindering those objectives. This data helps organizations measure the return on investment (ROI) of their social media strategies, and to continually plan how to best use social media to their advantage.

The social analytics tools we have thusfar considered have targeted organizations as their primary market; some, such as Hunch (founded 2009) are being developed as a consumer service. Hunch combines social media analytics' canvassing of data over multiple social networks with traditional web analytics' application to predicting what consumers might like to buy based on prior purchases. This advertisement from Hunch also nicely illustrates what Social Analytics can do.

Please take a few minutes to go over our first two activities for the week. It should take only a few minutes.

In the first activity, download Ghostery (
http://www.ghostery.com/) onto your most used browser. Over the course of one day of online activity, notice the pop-up box on most pages that indicate which service is collecting information about your online activity. Then, please complete the class survey on how often your information is being monitored.

The Survey is found here:

Continue to Limitations of Social Analytics