by Raven Berzal
Analytics. You’ve probably been hearing this word tossed around a lot lately – I know I have. It feels like all of my professors keep mentioning it and telling me how important it is. But what really is analytics and why is it so important in the field of communications? I was curious, so I was extremely intrigued when I got word of the “Translating Analytics to Strategy” workshop that was part of this semester’s Social Commerce Days.
On the evening of March 25, I had the privilege of attending this event. Jessica Vanner, W2O Group’s Senior Manager of Media and Engagement, and Lauren Hougas, W2O Group’s Director of Analytics, facilitated the event. They presented an overview of the role of analytics followed by two case studies on how W2O Group has translated analytics to action for leading brands. Later, students worked in teams to develop branding and marketing ideas for one of the brands based on insights from social media analytics.
The overview portion of the workshop began by defining analytics and describing how this concept can be applied to public relations and marketing. Analytics, or information derived from the systematical analysis of data, can be translated into useful statistics that marketing and PR professionals use to enhance their practices and make them more efficient. The overview emphasized the correlation between the advance of technology in today’s society and the growing importance of analytics. By allowing professionals access to data regarding the trends and habits of specific groups of people, campaigns and advertisements can be much more precisely targeted and effective.
In many of my PR classes, we discuss how social media has changed the media landscape. This concept was emphasized in the workshop, for much of the data involved in analytics comes from people voluntarily sharing their personal information on social media. Vanner cited data indicating that compared to other age groups, teen girls are most likely to tweet about skin problems. This information is gathered and analyzed by companies wishing to sell and promote acne solutions. In addition, other online platforms, such as YouTube, have transformed the way we consume media. During the workshop, Vanner expressed W2O Group’s effort to take advantage of this platform by reaching out to YouTube “celebrities” with a substantial following of subscribers. Companies often send personalized care packages to YouTubers with the goal of forming a collaborative relationship. In turn, these YouTube “celebrities” have the opportunity to try out new products and promote them to followers. The packages or gifts are personalized based on the information the stars post on social media.
This concept of doing research in order to build relationships is extremely interesting and a piece of advice that I will carry with me throughout my career. Before a job interview or a meeting with a new client, I will always remember to research the individual I am meeting to find common points of interest and discussion topics.
Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the analytics workshop. Analytics are increasingly influencing the way products and services are marketed, branded, and advertised. As the next generation of communications professionals, it is crucial that we have a comprehensive understanding of analytics.
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