In the recent Netflix film, “The Social Dilemma,” some of the world’s most influential data analysts — including experts who were part of designing the analytics features of Google and Facebook — reveal what is happening behind the screens. In the rapidly evolving world of technology, the arena of social media analytics has become a driving force of business strategy and is dramatically affecting everyday consumer behavior.
While typical social media users are unaware, “everything they’re doing online is being watched,” according to the Netflix documentary. One analyst featured in the film explained that there are “entire teams of engineers whose job is to use your psychology”.
Brandwatch, a premier global social intelligence company for some of today’s largest brands, is front and centre of the social media analytics movement. According to Brandwatch, there are now more than 3.7 billion social media users active worldwide, and these individuals engage social media an average of almost two-and-a-half hours a day. Companies now have access to vast amounts of data that affects every aspect of business, from product development and pricing to promotion and distribution.
How Are Businesses Using Social Media Analytics?
When you engage with social media, built-in analytics features capture data about your location, interactions, content and financial transactions. This data is used in two broad ways — microtargeting and aggregate intelligence. Businesses are banking heavily on social media, with spending on social media advertising expected to reach almost $100 billion in 2020.
While targeted marketing is not new, the power of social media analytics has brought unprecedented possibilities to this strategic tactic. Business analysts are building faster, bigger and more robust tools to fuel the growing demand for microtargeting.
Facebook, for example, with almost 2.5 billion users, offers advertisers the option to target ads to the individuals who are most likely to respond. Businesses can fine-tune promotion in these audiences:
- Core — Applying selected criteria, including behaviour patterns and demographics.
- Custom — Reaching users with some identified interest in the advertiser’s brands.
- Lookalike — Attracting people with similarities to a company’s existing customers.
YouTube offers advertisers customised “Find My Audience” targeting. Businesses can choose to focus on users who have demonstrated interest in a particular type of product or service or audiences whose interests and habits predict interest in what the advertiser is offering.
The UK-based nonprofit Cambridge Wireless explains that while this practice can be used wrongly, microtargeting can also be “a legitimate next-generation marketing tool.”
Beyond targeted advertising, the use of social media analytics also provides rich market insights for businesses. Utilising platforms like Brandwatch and Talkwalker, companies can identify trends in their audiences, brands, and even competitors. Brandwatch proposes that its customers can “find meaning in the billions of conversations happening online” and “make smarter decisions.” Applications like Hootsuite take this a step further and empower companies to track and analyse their own social media activity.
Insights About Consumer Interests and Preferences
When social media is buzzing about particular topics, this data is highly profitable for companies whose line of business relates to the chatter. For example, a significant uptick in social conversations about stay-at-home hobbies during the global pandemic gives clues to what consumers are likely to purchase. The actionable information gleaned from social media analytics translates to ideas for new products and innovations. This intelligence also impacts promotional strategies and supply chain logistics as companies forecast demand.
Feedback About a Company’s Brand and Communication
With feedback from social media analytics on what people like and don’t like about particular brands, products and services, proactive companies can respond to relevant opportunities or challenges in the market. If there is a collective negative reaction to a new product launch, that company can get ahead of the backlash. On the other hand, a mass positive response may signal the need for higher production or increased promotion. Taking the strategy even further, a company using analytics to track its own social media interactions can communicate directly and immediately to customers.
In the same way that businesses can track their own products, social intelligence also informs competitors about threats and strategic opportunities. With measurements on what competitors are doing and how they’re performing, companies can make more informed decisions in their product development, communication and fulfillment. Businesses without social media analytics may be taken by surprise when a competitor gains an unexpected advantage.
What Is the Career Potential in Social Media Analytics?
The explosion of big data and advanced business analytics means that this multifaceted field offers some of today’s fastest-growing professions globally. World Economic Forum describes a phenomenal disruption in the job market of the future as people increasingly interact with technology. An extensive report jointly produced by LinkedIn, Coursera and the World Economic identifies a boom of new jobs in business-related technology for specialists in data analysis, data science, big data and digital marketing.
Job titles and specific accountabilities vary by country, industry and employer, but common responsibilities include:
- Establish data processes.
- Track and analyse complex datasets.
- Utilise external platforms and analytics tools.
- Translate data to usable information.
- Create and present reports with recommendations.
Let’s identify a few broad categories for social media analytics jobs in different geographic areas.
In the UK, the Prospects career site describes data analysis as a high-demand field with strong potential for advancement. While entry-level annual salaries typically range from £23,000 to £30,000, opportunities for career progression move data analysts up in salary in a relatively short time, and seasoned professionals may earn £60,000 or more.
Canadian sources also reflect a strong market for jobs in this field. According to PayScale, the average salary for a social media analyst is CA$40, 431. Related data analyst jobs average CA$56,733. Both tracks offer paths for advancement, leading to potential salaries more than CA$70,000.
Job prospects for marketing research analyst roles in the United States are projected to increase by 18% from 2019 to 2029, a rate much higher than average. The median salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is US$63,790, with those in “management of companies and enterprises” earning a median US$74,510.
What Is the Pathway to Your Career in Social Media Analytics?
Professionals working in the burgeoning field of social media analytics will need cutting-edge skills in contemporary business analytics. Typical qualifications include strong skills and experience in:
- Mathematics and statistics.
- Data modeling.
- Quantitative analysis.
- Social media optimization.
- Critical thinking.
Gaining a competitive edge in today’s top business analytics fields requires hands-on experience and advanced education. An online MSc Business Analytics degree equips you with the knowledge and skills for today’s fast-paced data careers.
The Aston MSc Business Analytics programme covers descriptive, predictive and prescriptive data analytics to give you comprehensive preparation for the most in-demand current technology. Coursework includes case studies, applications and practical experience in key competencies such as:
- Big Data for Decision Making
- Data Mining and Web Analytics
- Decision Models
- Effective Management Consultancy
The culmination of the degree programme is a graduate degree dissertation in an applied research area of your choice. From investigation to assessment to primary research, you’ll benefit from guided experience that prepares you for the next step of your career.
Taking the First Step to Your Social Media Analytics Career
Aston University’s online MSc Business Analytics degree is designed with flexibility and convenience for working professionals. Students in the program benefit from these programme features:
- Coursework is 100% online.
- With three intakes per year, you can choose when to start.
- The degree can be completed in about two years.
- Tuition is affordable.
- Graduates join a global network of more than 90,000 alumni.
Aston is recognised by QS, the global university rankings authority for careers and education, as one of the top 100 in the world for business and management studies. The university is also ranked 10th in the UK in data analytics programmes by Eduniversal.
As a premier global business school, Aston University is among the elite one percent of schools holding a triple accreditation from AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA.
A career in business analytics puts you on the leading edge of the contemporary marketplace. Explore your possibilities in social media analytics careers with an Aston University online MSc Business Analytics degree.