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6 limitations of social media data

If your brand does not have a Facebook page, consider yourself a minority.  With a wealth of data available from social media analytics, what are the limitations of this data?

1. A high number of fans does not equal success

Christopher Wong, CEO of Klarity, said that from his experience, many Hong Kong companies use the number of social media followers and participants in a campaign to measure its effectiveness.

“But in my opinion, that is a very superficial way of looking at things. Having fans does not necessarily equate to true brand enhancement or real leads,” Wong said.

Comments and shares are much more powerful because they show affiliation to your brand but they are limited to very active fans – it is possible to have engaged less active fans who do not leave a comment or share your post.

2. Videos are sexy but their impact is hard to measure

You can time how long a person spends on a web page and what pages they browse through, even though you don’t know for how long they were actually reading text and surveying the images.

Similarly, with videos, it is challenging to determine how long a particular video has actually been watched and whether the viewer has in fact been paying attention the whole time.

3. The popularity of a platform may matter more than which platform is a suitable medium for your campaign

“Unfortunately, it is now about which platform has regional dominance rather than which platform is the best for a particular type of campaign,” Wong said.

For example, while Instagram and Pinterest can be the most effective for campaigns heavy in visuals, Twitter and Pinterest is not as popular in Hong Kong as it is in the US and Instagram is mostly used by the younger generation.

Facebook is a good option for interactive and game-based campaigns but it is not available in mainland China, where Sina Weibo would be the way to go.

Wong said, “But I know some marketers in mainland China who are looking at local social media sites other than Sina, which have a smaller reach but more real followers.”

4. Protection of user’s privacy limits data collection

Even though social media may seem like a very open space, social networks themselves limit the amount and specificity of data that you can collect to protect the privacy of its users.  Fans themselves also expect a certain level of privacy.

One example is how Facebook would provide an overall breakdown of where fans of a brand Facebook page resides without identifying exactly which fans and where they live.

5. Data is fragmented by platform

You might know how many dislikes a YouTube video has received and the same video posted on Facebook would have no dislike data available. Meanwhile, you can get a gender breakdown of your fans on Sina Weibo.  But there is no one-stop shop for all of this information in one platform.

6. It takes good analysis on the part of marketers to trace a link between ROI and social media

The path-to-purchase from social media, usually used to raise awareness and educate customers, is often an indirect process and customers may have to be channeled through well-known sales and marketing funnels.

Data needs to be analysed to zero-in on the right audience in order to make marketing campaigns more targeted.  These leads can then be converted into purchases in the long run.

[Image]: Shutterstock

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