The standard platform for tracking popularity and just how many people are visiting your website at any given time is Google Analytics. But there are other ways that SMEs can obtain metrics for their engagement in the online world.

From social shares and Google alerts to generated links, there are opportunities for small businesses to utilise big data and influence the effectiveness of ongoing and future marketing strategies. Not only can these metrics add to the standard analytics, such as bounce rate and unique visitor numbers, but can give a more realistic measure of the number of people that posts and social messages are getting in front of, how your brand is perceived online and where you are likely to find most success.

Contrary to popular belief, big data is not about sifting through huge mounds of information, something that small businesses don’t necessarily have the resources for. It’s about gathering and searching through the data available and making more intelligent sense of it. The good news is that, for all SMEs, there are tools and facilities out there which can help organise and decipher all that noise better, to make more profitable development and marketing decisions.

Having a Big Data Strategy

The key to success for using all this extra data effectively is having the right strategy in place. You have to be smart if you don’t want to be overwhelmed with all that data.

Whereas a platform like Google Analytics has its tools in one place, finding all the big data you need and ordering it properly so that it says something meaningful, and influences the direction your company takes, involves bringing several data strands together from different sources.

For example, by combining Google and Facebook Impressions a business can begin to see how many people their posts are getting in front of. The trouble is that different social media platforms have their own nuances and all that information needs to be collected and properly ordered.

- Facebook will have likes, comments and shares.

- Strong Twitter engagement could be measured by the number of people who retweet a particular post.

- Pinterest could be how many pins your brand gets.

- You can check how often your company name is being mentioned using Google Alerts.

You can get a range of social media shares on a platform such as Hootsuite. It can be hard work pulling all these strands together.

Tools for Analysing Big Data for SMEs

For SMEs on tight budgets there are plenty of low cost and even free tools that can help gather useful data about social media interaction which in turn can give a deeper insight into how users engage with them. Here are just a few that may be of help: is a backlink monitor that checks how popular your site or posts are and where your brand is being mentioned. The number of sites or social media posts linking to your content is important because it shows that what you are providing is being shared. This kind of data helps a business discern which content is working and the sort of information that isn’t.

Social Mention is a free tool that tracks what people are saying about your brand across a wide range of social media platforms. Information includes how users are engaging, whether that engagement is positive or negative, how many unique users are referencing your brand compared to the overall number of mentions. It can give a broad snapshot of what is going on without providing the in-depth analysis that paid tools provide.

If you want a more comprehensive social media tracking system than simple Google Alerts, then Mention is a paid for tool that works for any type of business, big or small. You can track who is mentioning keywords, including your brand name, and find out what competitors are up to with metrics that are gathered from across the whole of social media including YouTube, websites and blogs. It can also help to find the best influencers in your industry.

Of course, for small businesses there are a number of considerations that go into choosing the right measures and metrics. If you are collecting data from a range of sources and trying to order it, there is the question of how much time this is going to take and whether you get enough ROI for your efforts. Objectives will need to align with the metrics you choose, whether that be the number of impressions your business is getting or how much it is being discussed in social media groups.

This may well involve a good deal of experimentation in the first instance as you try to find the best way of collecting big data, discover how you use it well and what you use it for. It can, though, have huge benefits for your SME if the right data is collected, influencing customer engagement, improving sales, and helping develop new and more profitable directions.


By Anna Lemos, Content Marketing Executive at Company Formations 24.7


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