Without context, social data and analytics won’t tell you much of anything that is useful for your business.

Re-tweets, favourites, follows, unfollows, likes, unlikes, comments, shares, views, clicks, impressions, reach, engagement and the multitude of other figures that are available for our analysis and interpretation are only good for putting numbers to your social activity, not much else.

What these figures don’t provide to us is what value they have for your business. They don’t demonstrate reason or rationale for why various peaks and valleys are observed, or what those peaks and valleys mean. They don’t answer the critical ‘why’, ‘what’ or ‘how’ that is necessary for this data to be applied to your business, social media, or content efforts in a meaningful way.

Here’s an example; what does a high engagement rate on a social post really tell you? All it tells you is that more people than normal decided to interact with that post.

But why did they interact?

What do those interactions mean?

How did their interaction have a positive influence on your business?

The answer is that you can’t definitively say why they interacted, you don’t know what those interactions meant, and you certainly don’t know if those interactions influenced your business. Apply this thinking to any social data that you have available, and you’ll see for yourself that it doesn’t carry much meaning when interpreted in isolation.

For social data and analytics to have true meaning, context needs to be applied.

Here are a few examples of the context you can apply to your social data and analytics that will enable you to glean meaningful, actionable insight:


Deciphering if there is a correlation between your social and sales data can potentially reveal if social activity is directly contributing to your bottom line, and the specific activity that might be making the greatest impact.

This correlation can be relatively straightforward if your business operates following an e-commerce model. Even if it doesn’t, it’s highly likely that you can create a correlation between sales, store visits, lead generation, or other sales-associated measures, to various online activity, that can then be mapped back to social activity.

Do some research, survey your customers, and dig deep; you’re sure to find a link back to measureable digital activity that is linked to sales, which you can use as valuable context for your social data.


Creating a tagging system that can be applied to your downloadable analytics reports to segment your data by content pillar, format, or other attributes can give you important intelligence as to what content is driving desirable social behaviour – whatever is most important given your business objectives.

When you have a tagging or categorization system in place, simply create a spreadsheet to house this data and paste it into your downloadable .XLS or .CSV files so that you can slice and dice your data to your heart’s content.

If you use a social media management tool with tagging functionality built in, then you’re likely already aware of the power of tagging your social content.


Overlaying website, mobile or app data and analytics to your social data can add needed context if your objectives are web-based – visits to certain web pages, app downloads, information collected, registrations, or whatever your web objectives may be.

The application of this data as context will allow you to correlate the cause and effect of your social media activity, which is much more valuable than what social data can reveal alone.


These are, of course, just a few examples of the context that can be applied to your social data to give its analysis some serious value.

Customer service data, store visits, seasonality, traditional marketing activity, online media, press coverage, major announcements, events, changes to social platforms, entry or exit of competition, and competitive activity are just a few more samples of context that could be helpful to analyze with your social data.

How do you give your social data meaning through the addition of context?

What data, information or analytics do you analyze in conjunction with your social data?

How do you determine if your social media activity is having a positive impact on your business?

It would be fantastic to hear what you think, answer questions, or chat with you about this more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial

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Analytics, Content, Content Marketing, Measurement, ROI, Social Business, Social Media Strategy


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