Creating a Free Social Media Dashboard

As digital noise becomes more and more prevalent, the ability for the average professional to sift through noise and tune into actionable information is critical.

This article walks through the process to create a straight-forward social media dashboard that can be used as a daily social media training and social business engagement tool. Your social media dashboard will help you monitor profiles and keywords on services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

With a few of these working in your favor, you will always have insight to the most recent topics covering your business.

Suggested uses for creating your first social media dashboard:

  • Topic Based: create an insight to your current work project
  • Education Based: track future topics to stay up-to-date
  • Team Based: share info to help project expertise and market changes
  • Competitive Based: monitor companies, executives, or work teams Read more

Social Media Infographics – Mobile Media in the U.K.

Browsing through social media infographics is an easy way to absorb a lot of data in a little bit of time.

By arming yourself with some of the right strategic questions about each set of data you can help yourself draw where different market opportunities are for your organization as well as avoid some potential pitfalls.

In the social media infographic below about mobile media adoption in the U.K. we have some insight to how our oversea counterparts consume data. These trends become more meaningful when we examine what differences there are in our demographics and our industry niches.

We also have to keep in mind that we don’t want to think about a certian element in an isolated silo. We need to consider things like our own local mobile trends, how tablets are being adopted at work, and how our workforce uses mobile.

By using a holistic knowledge of the ‘big picture’ the tactical highlights become easier to take advantage of.

What insights do you find when you look at this data?

Read more

Social Media Analytics and Big Data ROI

eMarketer wrote a brief piece on linking digital data to ‘big data’ that caught my eye with some interesting research from the New York Marketing Association.

While I have written hundreds of pages on social media analytics in the past, I’m still troubled by the focus of social media being directed/controlled/managed within the marketing silo.

I’m hoping the trend of social business (instead of social marketing) will continue in the direction it is heading, but I fear that the core issues of properly identifying analytics that count are still outside the reach of 99.9% of marketing executives (and outside 99.99% of business executives in general.)


The #1 Problem of Social Media Analytics

social media analysisAccording to the survey, the number one obstacle of measuring ROI of marketing is lack of sharing data across the organizagtion.

While I agree with the #1 problem: it isn’t limited to marketing ROI.

It encompasses the ROI of the entire business.

If we don’t examine other business silos that have inherent ties to social data and streamlined knowledge management, we fail to realize ROI in PR, product development, customer retention, talent acquisition, process refinement, and executive leadership.

Any one of those ROI areas could be the ‘magic bullet’ that defines an organization as a market leader or as an unknowing victim of business evolution.

Problem #2 – The Shelf Life of Data

social media data and realtime metricsIf you are nimble and fast moving, social media analytics and real time data can be amazing.

The problem with that statement is the requirement that you are nimble and fast moving.

In most enterprise organizations it days weeks or months to make simple direction changes. This makes real-time data collected in the past hour nearly worthless…. sure you know that an iceburg is right in front of you, but you simply can’t turn fast enough to avoid it.



Problem #3 – It isn’t ‘big data’ ; it is ‘evolving data’

social media data, analysis, analytics

In addition to thinking about social media analytics from a marketing perspective, current definition of the social data silos revolving around the term of ‘big data’ are contaminated in my opinion.

Examining the answers from the survey: we no longer have demographic, customer, social media, and mobile phone data.

All we have is ‘evolving data’

Mobile data = Social data = Customer data = Demographic data

We have a constant pipeline of new data points that are injecting thousands of invaluable data assets into our current business processes from hundreds of sources.


The End Crisis – Analysis Paralysis

The massive injection of data is completely disrupting most executives ability to take actionable decisions.

We have executives who are simply looking at a Web 3.0 chessboard and they are trying to interpret the market they are playing in by traditional rules of chess. They don’t realize (and or accept) that the rules are changing on a daily basis and that entirely new pieces are being played.

When we combine analysis paralysis with marketing isolation (problem #1), slow reaction time (problem #2), and changing market data (problem #3) we end up with an interesting business dilemna.

What other problems are social media analytics facing?

Case Example – Social Business Intelligence and the Zombie Apocalypse

In my conversations about analyzing stock trends, research market data, and developing opportunity plans I am always returning to one of my most trusted statements:

“My plan is to not get eaten.”

Social business intelligence is about learning from the people around you: whether they work on your team or if they happen to be competitors.
The core of social business intelligence is very simple, yet the information you can gain from it could make the difference between life and death.

The reality of social business intelligence can really be summed up by the end of the world in 2012.

I’m going to assume the end of the world in 2012 will ultimately be caused by the zombie apocalypse. Read more

Creating Social Media Dashboards

The act of being alive today creates an immense stream of social data. A whole industry has developed around creating social media dashboards for monitoring social conversation, but the reality is that social media dashboard solutions are fairly cookie-cutter and all utilize the same data sources.

What if I want to create a custom visualization of my own data combined with everything else? If I choose one of the existing dashboards I’m pretty much limited to what ever that monitoring company believes is important to the general audience.

Free is nice, but you generally get what you pay for. When it comes to discovering competitive business insight through data analysis the devil is in the details. You need to think about your social data and business impacts from a thousand different viewpoints before you discover your epiphany.

+If you are like me, I generally don’t fall in the cookie cutter category. I am constantly asking the questions that matter (to me.)

Some of the right questions…

How much budget do I have to work with?

You should be thinking about the entire process you need to complete. Creating your own social dashboard or getting a license for an existing one is only a fraction of the project. You should make sure that you have enough budget set aside for research, strategy, training, integration, and business conversion. My general rule is that a dashboard should generally take less than 20% of the project budget (it is an important piece, but not the only piece.)

How much time do I have?

Creating a socia media dashboard requires you to understand some of the cogs that are going to be built into the visualization. You either have to spend time learning these cogs or set aside budget for having a consultant help you.

How accurate does it need to be?

One of my biggest grudges about most of the cookie cutter solutions out there is accuracy. I’m amazed by the ‘fluffy’ data that originates from platforms ranging in cost from $20 to $10k a month.

Who is using it?

The larger your organization, the more people who will probably need access to it. You need to develop a list of the who, where, why, when, and how people in your organization are going to access and act on the information in your social media dashboard.

Where can I promote the data?

It is essential that this data is seen. The saying goes “out of sight, out of mind” – you need to make plans to actively display your social media dashboard in a manner that keeps the data front and center with the people who it matters to.

What is data privacy?

A lot of people in the industry don’t want to talk about this part. Many of the cookie-cutter SAAS solutions out there service competitive accounts and don’t really keep things properly contained. Account managers are often looking at SAAS clients and examining what types of data are being tracked by what types of clients. This data is used to help other clients make changes to their tracking solutions and eventually used to make upgrades to the platform. *If I assumed my organization was an industry leader, I’d rather not have my data insight be used as a tool to help a dozen competitors.

(if you want to read more about questions you should be asking, check out my article on 40+ Social Media Dashboards)

Tools for creating Social Media Dashboards

I’m not going to lie.

There are a million tools to create social media dashboards.

I’ve seen enterprise level social media dashboards that look like they were drawn on napkins and freemium ones that were delightful user experiences.

The real trick is identifying the right tool for the right job.

Just because it looks pretty doesn’t mean it works well. It also doesn’t mean it is accurate, consistent, or even worthwhile.
You have to think of your social media dashboard from both a functional and a design perspective.

– Starting with completely free web code like HTML and PHP, you can create some pretty simple web dashboards. I wouldn’t recommend going into the realm of site coding unless you have someone on your project team that is comfortable playing with these tools.

– Open sources solutions like WordPress and Drupal. While both of these systems are traditionally thought of as blog platforms, they both operate as effective methods of posting and collecting information with the right plugins. I’ve personally developed several whiz-bang dashboards on WordPress.

– I also rely on Microsoft Excel and Access. These are the easiest tools to examine some basic data conclusions and are readily available to most users. Using some of the built-in charts allows me to quickly compare a few sets of data to help refine my end target.

– Microsoft Powerpoint is also a commonly overlooked tool. Create a few basic objects in Powerpoint and create mock-ups of what types of data should be where. This process generally lets me share a half dozen visualization samples so that I can get input from the working team to move cogs around.

Getting more advanced…

When working with web data I commonly show examples. Google Images is critical for this. Simply doing a search on Google Images for “industry + dashboard” gives me some ideas to how other people visualize data.

When I’m done with my basic strategy I turn towards a list of tools

These tools each have some useful applications. There is no magic bullet or one size fits all winner.

User Analytics

Don’t forget to monitor who uses your dashboard.

One of the most important qualities to my social media dashboard is whether or not anyone will use it.

I want to know who, when, where, why.

I want to know what matters the most to that user and what role they play in the company.

If my data is useful and is presented properly, I will have a repeat user who consistently returns for more.

If I don’t have a repeat user I need to figure out why. I may have to change the presentation of the data, use different data, or train the person on why the data is important.

How does data impact your business?

What visualization and dashboard tools do you use to track social media? Do you think there are any inherent benefits or flaws associated to using an existing ‘social media dashboard?’