You see, I'm the type of guy who looks at a digital clock and tries to add up the numbers. You know... The math on 12:36 is 1 x 2 x 3 = 6. The math on 2:13 is 2 + 1 = 3. Sometimes I get crazy with something like 12:38, which is (1 x 2) to the power of 3 = 8.
Yes, I have a problem.
So I've always been one of those creatives who embraced data and analytics. I believe data can inform better creative, and inspired creative can be validated via good data. Follow the heart, test with the mind.
That's why I love the latest tools out there that help creatives like me analyze data without having to hearken back to high school trig. There are two in particular that I am finding especially useful on a day-to-day basis.
DataHero: Digging Time
This SaaS application allows you to drag-and-drop to create easy charts and visual analysis of data. Upload an Excel spreadsheet, connect to a Google doc, drop data into a Dropbox folder, or directly connect to services like MailChimp and SurveyMonkey -- then create visual analysis that updates automatically if you change the data.
Not only can you drag and drop data variables to create charts on the fly (it's hard to explain, but REALLY easy to do), but DataHero will also suggest charts to you based on what it sees in your data set. Adjust your variables and filters to home in on analysis, then output the chart to include in a presentation.
You can combine datasets from multiple social media outlets to analyze commonalities between them. It's also a great resource for simply, quickly and easily creating charts you need for an upcoming presentation to clients or bosses.
This real-time dashboard can take inputs from multiple data sources to provide you an on-the-fly look at the latest happenings across your online empire. Ducksboard integrates with a wide array of social outlets including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Foursquare, Flickr and Google.
Drag-and-drop functionality lets you easily create the dashboard using nothing other than your social logins. You can then give access to the dashboard to yourself, your clients and your stakeholders.
Because we pull data directly from our own database, I personally prefer competitor Leftronic because of the slightly lower cost, ease of customization and more simplified user interface. However, Ducksboard definitely has more social media tie-ins as of this writing.
The Holy Grail
To really get your money's worth, embrace both options at the same time.
Utilizing a resource like Ducksboard/Leftronic gives you on-the-fly numbers of what is happening with your social properties. This visual analysis allows you to spot abnormalities or spikes in the data.
Once you see an abnormality, or simply have an upcoming meeting/milestone to prepare for, dive into DataHero to massage the data and uncover insights.
As an industry, we have moved out of the toddler stage of social media marketing -- being cute alone just isn't good enough. It's time to start being smarter about the way we act. Embrace the data and do the math.
Even better, let the new wave of analytics tools do the math for you.