Do better social media analytics really help?

There’s an ever-growing range of companies offering an array of social media analytics tools, from entry-level platforms such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social to sophisticated stand-alone products like Socialbakers and Radian6.

All of these products use an API to capture data—the exact same data already available to you and your business for free from Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and many other social media networks. The only differences between the native analytics and the more sophisticated—and expensive—options are the interface and the math used to calculate ambiguous metrics like “potential reach” and “engagement.”

As it turns out, the more you pay, the prettier the interface, the sexier the reports and the more complex the math. How much “pretty” you need or can afford depends on your budget, the scope of your marketing effort and the nature of your business.

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