The concept of analyzing data is not new- brands have been using data to track our digital footprint for years. However, it is safe to say that the way we analyze data is rapidly changing by the minute and if you are not an expert on the topic, it can be tough to keep up with. While I am not an expert in data analytics in any way and can barely do simple math (thanks core curriculum!!!) I had the opportunity to listen in on a panel with the head of data analytics at Edelman and pick up some tips on where the industry is going and how agencies are working with influencers to reap all the benefits of their partnerships.
Not only is it changing the landscape of public relations, but also for those that blog even as a side project. It is important for bloggers to grasp how deep rooted the tracking goes into their analytics and followers and exactly what agencies are looking for in the deep depths of your website code. As little as a few years ago, agencies use to have to specifically put out a survey to get data asking how consumers felt about a brand. In 2017, they no longer need to ask and simply pull data from social networks. Instead of asking- observe and track what people are saying. Below are five facts that will hopefully help you understand what agencies are looking for. I am very curious: what other data analytic trends are you seeing in the pr + influencer industry?
1 | Using a “follower” on social media to measure engagement or influence is done. Measuring a photo or post by how many followers a page has does not help a brand to understand the ROI (return on investment) they made in sponsoring that post or photo. Brands want to see your engagement- how many people enjoyed your post enough to interact with it? This could be measured in shares, comments or most importantly to brands: how many unique visitors clicked through to the call to action for the brand and bought their product or visited their website? In the end: it does not matter if your post got 5k views if visitors did not take action. This is often called the “conversion rate” and you can track this by using Google Analytics. Although I am not familiar with Adobe, Edelman prefers tracking through Adobe Analytics and believes Adobe is where the future lies.
2 | Bit.ly means that a tracking code is being masked. Bit.ly is a double edge sword. Bloggers like using bit.ly links because it creates clean links for them to share, but now consumers are more hesitant to click on a bit.ly link because they do not trust it. At Edelman, links are coded from the ground up and are often big lines of jumbled numbers and letters meant to track every move a unique website visitor makes- Bitly allows them to mask that. These links allow analysts to track individual analytics, post performance and ultimately measure if a campaign was a success or a dud. You can read up on some more Bitly basics, here.
3 | Influencers now sign contracts that give agencies access to backend code. What is the difference between frontend and backend code? I had no idea until I googled it after the panel. Typically, frontend code is what your user sees in the browser and backend code is the data within your server. I cannot personally speak well on this subject, but it is important to know that now more often than not, data analysts at agencies not only have access to what you tell them about but the whole shebang. These might be some good resources: Quora and Code Chicago.
4 | Influencers are viewed as “more for less.” More for less boils down to one thing: agencies are able to pay bloggers less than they would to purchase media buys (purchasing spots for advertisements in print, TV and online) thus getting more bang for their buck. Bloggers are among the top five most trusted sources for information. This is because consumers do not want to feel like they are following a brand, they want to feel like they are following a personality AKA they view bloggers as their online “friends.” Additionally, the influencer often signs a contract signing over the rights to content and photos for the brand to use in any way they please. This gets the brand a lot of content for not a lot of investment. Brands often find that mid-level bloggers are the most beneficial to work with when there is a smaller budget at stake: mid-level bloggers tend to have a very engaged following that leads to a great conversion rate. If you want to read more about blogger outreach from a PR standpoint, check out this article. If you want to read up on stats about working with bloggers, check this out (it is from 2012 so a little outdated but still makes some good points.)
5 | Agencies are now favoring Attribution Modeling. Or in normal person terms for people like me: what was the reader \ consumer journey to clicking on your specific website link? Data Analysts can now track what the user journey was to ultimately find your website in real time. For example, did the reader originate from a link shared on twitter and land on your page which led them to the brands page? Agencies track what your reader was reading before, after and during their time spent on your blog. This also means that agencies know where a bulk of your views come from, when they happen and how long they stayed on your site. What did they interact with the most?
What other kinds of data tips are you interested in seeing? If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please share in the comments!
PS: Buffer Social has a smart little dictionary of what different data terms mean. It is a great resource for the next time a brand asks you for a stat and you are not quite sure what number to give them! Check it out, here!