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The Best, and Worst, Social Media Analytics Platforms

The analytics tools behind some of the most popular social media platforms can be surprisingly limited. With an increasing number of businesses using social media for marketing, many platform analytics leave something to be desired. While some platforms excel in certain aspects of analytics reporting, others fall short. Here are how the most popular platforms rank in terms of social media analytics:

1. Twitter

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With a nice amount of information and an accurate representation for paid data, Twitter is one of the top platforms in terms of analytics. While other platforms struggle with reporting paid data that matches post data reporting (i.e. Facebook), Twitter provides an abundance of information that is the most precise snapshot of promoted post performance. Twitter analytics allows a data export with forty variables detailing many aspects of post performance – including breading out paid and organic engagements. Further, the analytics interface is pretty user friendly.

While Twitter’s analytics are nice, they are not perfect. Twitter analytics are limited in the way you can export the data. For example, the analytics interface will not allow customization of the export other than selecting the date range – only offering Excel file downloads. The data Twitter analyzes is more than most platforms, however, it is dwarfed by the amount provided with Facebook. Optimizing the current Twitter analytics to allow for more customization and deeper insights, would be a great way to make their reporting the best it can be.

2. Facebook

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Facebook comes in second on our list due to the abundance of data it collects. With each channel export having over two-thousand variables and each post export with over ninety; the analysis possibilities are endless! Not only is the number of variables fantastic, but Facebook also allows for the export of years of historical data. This is the type of news that makes us data nerds dream of all the beautiful analyses and graphs we could create.

While the amount of data that Facebook provides is nice, they have encountered many issues that have caused miscalculations on several metrics. Facebook made several updates in 2016 in regards to the way they calculate metrics such as Video Views, Video Completion, Paid Organic Reach, and several others. While it is wonderful that Facebook is investigating and fixing these issues, these changes can effect some metrics as much as 20 – 35%. Although Facebook’s quantity of data seems great, it sometimes seems like they should be focusing more on quality. On a positive note, they have been working more with third party research groups (like Nielsen, comScore, Moat) to validate their reporting due to requests for independent measurement of ad performance. If Facebook continues to improve their reporting in 2017, their native analytics platform could be one of the best around.

3. YouTube

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YouTube comes in third on our list because it provides a good amount of data, yet nothing spectacular compared to the amount of detail provided by Twitter or Facebook. One great thing YouTube allows is export options to Google Sheet, Excel, or CSV format. Further, the report is broken down watch time, traffic source, and demographics. Overall, the export isn’t the most detailed, however, it provides a good amount of information to draw meaningful insights about the channel, audience, and video performance. If YouTube was to make some improvements in 2017, we would suggest increasing the amount of data collected to allow for more in-depth analyses.

4. Pinterest

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Limited pin data and basic data reporting make Pinterest’s analytics platform fourth on our list. With only a handful of variables and relatively simple demographic information, the analytics available are minimal. Pinterest reports are not customizable, only available in Excel format, and there are three different downloads that need to be combined. Additionally, Pinterest has no way of tracking newly pinned content or tracking follower growth.  Overall, Pinterest analytics aren’t too special. Improvements need to be made to their export customization, number of variables, and measures of pin performance to really optimize Pinterest analytics.

5. Instagram

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Although Instagram is growing in popularity, especially with brands and marketers, it is one of the worst platforms for analytics with several large problems. Many of the problems with Instagram come from it’s mobile-only format. With mobile only, the analytics can solely be viewed on a mobile device. Further, the data provided on accounts and posts is severely lacking – with only 3 variables to show post performance. Additionally, there are no export options – making data analysis a very manual task. Basically, Instagram analytics are pretty useless on their own. Those who want better insights into their Instagram performance have to turn to third party programs to give them useful data – often having to pay for those insights. From an analytics perspective, there are really no pros to Instagram analytics and their reporting has a long way to go to before it’s useful. In a perfect world, Instagram would create a non-mobile analytics site that breaks down performance into many variables and allows for custom data downloads. As Instagram grows, hopefully they realize how impractical their analytics platform is and make significant changes for the better.

6. Snapchat

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While it seemed like nothing could be worse than Instagram analytics, Snapchat wins the title as the most terrible platform for analytics. Snapchat, like Instagram, is a mobile only platform but Snapchat is worse by not having a native analytics tool – making data collection entirely manual. With Snapchat, the data provided are views and screenshots – which is not much to measure performance. Additionally, the performance data behind your snaps can disappear if not recorded in time. As Snapchat is growing in popularity, so is brand presence on the platform – creating a need for detailed insights into post performance. To retain business from companies, Snapchat needs to reevaluate their lack of analytics and provide an alternative to the meager reporting that currently exists.

Clearly, most social media platforms weren’t created with analytics in mind. As platforms change in the ways they are used, updates to social media analytics aren’t first on the list. As many of these platforms are relatively new compared to Facebook and Twitter, their analytics tools have not had time to develop to meet the needs of users. Hopefully, with time, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat can catch up to the analytics leaders, Twitter and Facebook.

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