The first step in a social media analytics initiative is to determine which business goals the data that is gathered and analyzed will benefit. Typical objectives include increasing revenues, reducing customer service costs, getting feedback on products and services and improving public opinion of a particular product or business division.

Once the business goals have been identified, key performance indicators (KPIs) for objectively evaluating the data should be defined. For example, customer engagement might be measured by the numbers of followers for a Twitter account and numbers of retweets and mentions of a company's name.

There are a number of types of software tools for analyzing unstructured data found in tweets and Facebook posts. In addition to to text analysis, many enterprise-level social media tools will harvest and store the data.