- Analytics is not a standalone practice – This is going to seem controversial to some, but analytics should not be a standalone practice. When we launched our g4 operating model in 2011 it was done to help facilitate collaboration and integration amongst our client teams. Practices like digital marketing became part of the operating model, and analytics isn’t any different. Analysts play a critical role informing our strategist community on the behaviors of key stakeholders and trends in the market. Analysts inform our creators on what kinds of content perform the best. Analysts inform our connectors on the interplay between different kinds of media. Finally, analysts inform our catalysts on the latest trends so that they can make sure our clients are as informed as possible. The real danger in treating analytics as a silo is that the analysts themselves never become part of the team, they don’t understand client context and business reality and, most importantly, the client may not benefit from truly integrated recommendations that take into account data and that business context.
- Engage the question of how communications creates real change– Digital analytics is not just a high-tech version of the quaint media monitoring work I did when I started my career. It is different not just in its speed and potential to help us act in real time. It is different because social media itself is both a channel for exposing audiences to communications and an antenna for understanding how people exposed think and act differently than people not exposed. In other words, digital media analytics is not just a powerful barometer of how much stimulus we are creating for our clients. It can also be (and must also be) a barometer for how much corresponding change — in attitude and behavior — we are developing. That makes smart digital analytics an indispensable vehicle for understanding how communications exposure incites business-relevant change for companies and organizations.
- Culture – This is something that is very easy to say but VERY difficult to actually accomplish. Agencies and companies need to adopt the mindset that analytics and insights is at the heart of everything we do as communicators. Numbers need to be embraced, and not feared. Concern over how numbers are interpreted by colleagues needs to be thrown out the window. Apprehension about presenting data that might paint the company in a negative light needs to be abandoned. Analysts are a core part of the team in every case imaginable.
- Career trajectory – Fast-forward 10 years from where I started my career to now and my focus has shifted from building reports to developing insights and making analytics operational for our clients. In a lot of ways I have morphed from analyst to strategist, and that’s a good thing for our clients. Analysts who stay in this profession for a long time are likely to undergo a similar transformation. It isn’t that they don’t enjoy building reports anymore (I love when I get an opportunity to do it), but at some point it stops being economically feasible for the client and agency to continue paying for a more senior person to develop listening reports.
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