Tuesday, 12 August 2014

6 Ways to Use Social Media for Actionable Insight

Social media represents the largest source of consumer data in the history of the world.

Social media 'listening' is a no-brainer.

People like you and me willingly go online to share their passions, concerns and opinions about almost everything. And the companies that have embraced social listening are seeing a huge 'return' in the insights gleaned from this public source of consumer data.

The biggest challenge for teams, quite frankly, is selecting the right tool(s) when the options seem endless. (Has anyone else seen this chart? And that was two years ago!) Most of these solutions allow you to monitor, measure, publish and engage in some way across or multiple social media channels. Don't get me wrong, numbers and charts and graphs really do look great at first. But, once the initial "wow" factor wears off, those quantitative measurements serve more as 'health checks' for content and engagement programs than a metric to share with the C-Suite to demonstrate value to the bottom line. 

Hope is not lost. Our industry is getting there, but we must first move beyond social media monitoring.

What's next?

Every social media marketer should google "text analytics" and "data scientist." Since I'm not an expert at either, I can't connect words and phrases to measure their meaning (which is what text analytics is if I way over simplify it) or identify patterns in data and develop advanced algorithms (which is a fraction of what a data scientist can do). But I do know that I want those people on my team so I can gain a competitive advantage. 

Social Media Intelligence turns consumer data into action.

With the right research partner, this level of insight is possible. 
Here are six ways to use social media for actionable insights:
  1. Discover unknown unknowns. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know, which means you may not ask your consumers the right question to reveal an 'aha' moment. Enlist a trained researcher to scan the wealth of conversations taking place across social media channels to reveal insights that can jumpstart your next campaign. Don't limit your channels to just Facebook and Twitter either. Look at blogs, forums and public message boards. The short-form of Facebook and Twitter are great for finding "whats," where the latter provide context to know the "whys."
  2. Richer Audience Segmentation. Traditional demographics like age, gender and location are becoming a thing of marketing past. The ability to drill down into attitudes and specific preferences to personalize each marketing engagement is becoming status quo. Social media intelligence can help you better understand your audience and what makes them tick by using text analytics to 'decode' their social conversations to reveal unmet needs and secret desires.
  3. Product Development. The best products do one thing: fulfill an unmet need. This could be in the product itself or the way it’s marketed and communicated to its target audience. Use social media to survey the buying landscape, scope out the competition and ensure your product meets the need(s) your audience is telling you they need.
  4. Campaign Effectiveness. You know the saying, “quality over quantity?” Well, it has never been truer than in the current age of technology where everything is shared, retweeted, liked, reposted, hash tagged and, if you’re really lucky, even spoofed! Chasing arbitrary metrics can be exhausting and provides little value over time, which is why many companies are moving to social media intelligence for more intrinsic measures – like reputation lift – to inform strategy for their next campaign.
  5. Event/Conference Improvement. If attendees at your last event were carrying smartphones, you best believe they were taking “selfies” and tweeting about their experiences. You can track those slices of feedback and analyze them to discover a number of things, like which speaker(s) hit the mark or which issues caused pain points (e.g., long registration lines or low-quality Wi-Fi access). Knowing what went right and what fell short helps inform the event-planning process the next time around.
  6. PR Effectiveness. Protecting brand reputation is a PR team’s primary objective. What if you could get out in front of a potential crisis before it crippled your ability to respond, or you could monitor public perception during a challenging time for your company or brand. Use the wealth of information shared across social channels to drill deeper into what specific messages are working or what topics do more harm than good. This level of insight can help your team justify its strategy in a number of ways.
Before social media, it wasn't as easy to extract public opinion or glean consumer perception in almost real-time. Now, with advanced research and Social Media Intelligence, we can glean real insights to inform business strategy in so many ways.

What have you done to move your company past monitoring? I'd love to hear how you've been successful.

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