Things used to be far simpler for brands attempting to gauge the effectiveness of their social media. With Facebook and Twitter dominant, brands could assess their social output in metrics like shares, likes, and comments. A particularly successful Facebook post or Tweet would be shared or re-tweeted, and organic reach would be achieved. Engagement could be measured in comments, followers, and shares, with the latter the most effective way to reach new audiences.
The social media giants responded by developing their own analytics platforms. Facebook’s is incredibly well developed, allowing companies to see how their customers engage with them across all their different platforms and devices. The software is so sophisticated that the Silicon Valley giant has rolled it out as a service to other apps, for a fee, picking up high profile customers like Skyscanner and Tinder.
But even Facebook’s analytics platform arguably pales in comparison to that of Twitter. The 140-character giant boasts some of the most in-depth, well visualized insights available. The impressions made by a Tweet are made easy to measure, with media broken down into different types and even followers assessed for quality. Twitter can tell you the ‘interests that distinguish your followers from the Twitter average,’ what type of engagement your account encourages, which posts resonate more than others, and even tweet length vs. engagement.
More visual mediums are tricker to assess. The newer, more youthful Instagram and Snapchat don’t lend themselves immediately so well to analytics. Sharing is all but removed as a feature on both platforms, meaning users post only user generated content. With the power of Facebook behind it, though, Instagram launched its Insights in 2016, a powerful analytics tool that details metrics like impressions, reach, and engagement, all of which is presented accessibly within the app.
With Snapchat, though, the medium almost rejects analytics in its current form by definition. The app can tell its users how many people viewed one of its stories, how many took screenshots, and how many opened direct snaps and when they did so. Beyond this, the ephemerality of Snapchat causes difficulties. Of course, the pricey sponsored filters and Discover feature will be able to offer brands insight on reach and engagement. However for the average brand simply posting stories and sending snaps to other users, comments, shares and likes are nonexistent. These are vital metrics when gauging how successful a social media campaign has or hasn’t been, and until Snapchat establishes a way to offer alternative insights, brands will continue to struggle on the platform.
The lack of a functioning analytics platform within Snapchat is leading many companies to external providers like Snaplytics. The startup has, one would feel, a short shelf life, given Snapchat will almost certainly produce their own official analytics product and all but negate the Danish company. ‘In many ways Snapchat is standing in its own way for more brands to use the platform commercially,’ Snaplytics CEO Thomas Cilium said. For now, Snaplytics is exploiting Snapchat’s analytics capabilities (or lack thereof). Other brands will be hoping to do so too, as they develop and become sophisticated enough for serious use.