Introduction: Social Media Analytics
Social Media platforms have been successfully able to attract new users every year and the rate of adding new users to these platform has been increasing ever since the rise of these platforms. In the year 2016 itself, a massive 219 million active users have been added to various social media platforms, which is a 10% increase over the last year. With the increasing user base, the data that gets generated also has increased manifolds and thus the need for Social Media Analytics.
Social Media Analytics is used for collecting, measuring, analyzing, and reporting the insights which are derived from the prodigious unstructured and complex social media data which is used primarily for the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and optimizing marketing spends. Social media analytics helps in improving the customer experience by providing faster service which helps in driving business growth and enhancing the overall reputation. The traditional channels of marketing have been under siege by various web and social media channels. Social Media Analytics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 27.6% to $5.40 billion by the year 2020 which gives us an idea where this market is headed .
With the growth in the volume of data, it has become cumbersome to collect social media data and analyze. While it is impossible to predict how social media analytics will change over the course of new few years, but it is important to analyze the trends in the sector which can help marketers.
Here are the top trends in the social media analytics that marketers need to work on to get meaningful insights from the colossal data that social media generates:
Trend #1: Customer Service Chatbots
Social Media has been used quite extensively to address customer concerns and also reply to posts from the customers on social media. According to SproutSocial data , Social Media is the most preferred medium for customer care with 34.5% of consumers voting for it. The average number of messages that require a response from a brand has increased by 18% over the past year which shows the importance of managing customer care over social media. As per the survey, customers prefer to wait for a maximum of 4 hours to get a response while average brand response time on social media is around 10 hours. This has forced many of the brands to look out for new ways to increase their customer service resources and turn to chatbots.
Facebook uses chatbot extensively to communicate with the customers, answer frequently asked questions and provide information to the customer related to a product or a service. There are around 11,000 active Facebook messenger bots currently and around 300 million people actively use audio and video calling features on the messenger  which makes it even more lucrative for companies to focus on chatbots in 2017.
Trend #2: Paid content on Social Media will continue to grow
Most of the social media algorithms have been implemented to give some sort of preferential treatment to paid content which makes it difficult for the companies to promote organic content. These algorithms focus on showing content on the feed which makes users happy. Companies are trying harder to gain visibility on the social media which can be seen from the growth of paid media on the popular social media sites. According to Adobe,  advertisement spend on social media is expected to exceed $41 billion in 2017.
Social media advertisements grew by 74%, while promoted posts grew by 76% and the paid advertising on the search engines grew by 76% in the year 2016. This dramatic increase in the paid content on the social media is expected to continue in the year 2017 as well.
Trend #3: Artificial Intelligence for Social Media
Artificial Intelligence is like a spam filter for Social Media which can help the companies in identifying which posts come from real people and needs an immediate response. Artificial Intelligence helps in prioritizing users by helping in identifying high-profile customers and putting them ahead in the queue for responses. Realizing the potential of AI in social media analytics, companies have already started investing heavily in it and this is expected to grow by almost 300% in this year. The rise of chatbots on social media, facial recognition system by Facebook, recommendation modeling by Pinterest in the prior year has indicated the great potential that AI has when it comes to Social Media Analytics and the potential growth for it in the current year.
Trend #4: Combining CRM data and Social Media data to create a 360-degree view
Companies are interested in knowing their customers better and then provide customized offers to them which help them in boosting their sales and also understand the sales cycle. With around 2 billion people on social media, the sales world has already found ways to take advantage of this evolution. CRM data when combined with Social Media data help companies get a 360-degree view of the customers and understand the sales cycle which is used for driving insights to grow sales both online and offline.
Trend #5: Social Shopping and impulsive buying
Although customers are not able to buy the products directly from the social media websites, but social pages and posts on social media play an important role in motivating the customer to buy the product. More than half (57%) customers are expected to buy from the pages they follow on social media and what’s even more interesting is that more than 75% of customers make a purchase after they see something on social media. There have been various studies made which show that individuals visit social media as a part of their everyday shopping behavior and use the content they see and follow on social media to inspire purchases. In the year 2017, social media is going to continue to contribute to social shopping and help brands improve their sales.
Trend #6: Growth in unstructured and complex data
The growth of users on social media platforms is also responsible for the growth of unstructured and complex data which not only need huge storage space but also highly complex tools to process and derive insights out of data. As per IDG, unstructured data is growing at the rate of 62% per year and in the next five years, data volume is set to grow by 800% and almost 80% of the data will be unstructured.
The explosion of unstructured data because of the social media platforms requires new tools and approaches for data storage and analysis. This growth has also driven the need for social media platforms to develop in-house analytics tools which can be used by the analysts to understand the users better and with the maturation of the market, these features are becoming more and more intuitive and user-friendly. Many of the products which were using social media data for simple analytics have started using complex machine learning algorithms and sophisticated visualizations to helps analyst better understand the data. This trend is expected to grow in the coming years and the social media analytics products portfolio is going to rise with newer, better and more user-friendly tools.
Trend #7: Personalization and location-based customer segmentation
Personalization has always helped marketers increase customer loyalty and attract new customers since long and with the enhanced social media reach, businesses have been able to eradicate geographical limits. Also, this has made it convenient for the customers to make purchase decisions. Analysts use the location of the users to get insights about the customer behavior, needs and wants which helps the businesses adopt location-based marketing. The use of social media applications on mobile has gone up significantly in the year 2016 and it is expected to even rise which makes it easier to collect location-based user data. In 2017, location-based data will continue to help marketers design personalized strategies based on the user and the location.
The way forward
Social Media Analytics is a massive ocean of unstructured and complex data which is getting deeper by the day. It requires businesses to invest in the right tools from the plethora of available tools which help them in achieving their objective. Personalization and segmentation based on the social media data will play an important part in the current year in boosting sales both online and offline. The rapid transformation that we are witnessing today in the social media industry is underlined by the reach of these platforms and the inquisitive behavior of the users. This has opened up new channels for businesses to understand their existing customers and also add new customers in the process.
The year 2017, will be witnessing a lot of new trends coming up in the social media analytics industry. Businesses need to act today to ensure that their brands are ready for the future and meet the demands of the customers, thereby maintain brand loyalty and enhancing customer experience.