4 Ways Social Data Can Improve Your Business

Author

Ekaterina Walter, Contributor

December 4, 2014

Forget about marketing, advertising, and social media for a minute.

For a while, just think about your business. What is the number one issue for your brand today? What’s the age-old problem that if you fixed would guarantee a promotion?

Social media data and digital analytics give us the opportunity to go beyond social media hype and get to the heart of virtually any business problem.

To prove this, I’m going to Google “business problems for brands,” take the first four examples of universal business challenges that Google search turns up, then show how we can use social media data and insights to solve them.

Business problem #1: Credibility

The first hit is a piece on using surveys to identify credibility issues.

Surveys are fine, but they can’t give you the level of detail and context that social data can, and they rely on people’s conscious self-reporting (which isn’t always honest). The social data approach allows you to observe behavioral trends over time for more precise insights, it allows you to listen in on natural conversations as they progress on a variety of channels in a variety of communities.

And, most importantly, it allows you to address any issues in real-time within those same communities, which brings the closure to the topic and shows that the brand is listening. For example, if people are not happy about your policy, social allows you to directly address those users who feel that your brand lacks credibility with the announcement that you’ve changed your policy. A one-way survey now turns to an authentic two-way conversation. Just that open format alone will help build trust with your current and potential customers.

Here are some actions your brand can take to help address this business problem with social data:

  • Rate your brand for credibility against competitors and other established credible brands: analyze all public social mentions of your brand/competitors, ignoring references to products or services, targeting language that mentions your ethics, your environmental impact, employee satisfaction, charity work, customer services and if you deliver on your marketing claims.
  • Create a list of ethical problems for your brand based on the most common issues that the most vocal, ethical, influential users have with your brand.
  • Create a second list of ethical initiatives that your competitors and other credible brands get praised for.
  • Compare these lists and outline the changes that you can make to get the most gain in credibility (in terms or financial cost and the impact that it is likely to have on the social audience).

Business problem #2: No one in the organization has an understanding of the brand’s consumer needs

The second hit is a business problem related to a parent company, but we are concerned with individual brand problems. Third hit, however, is a list of twenty brand problems, which lists understanding the consumer’s needs at number one. And it couldn’t be more appropriate.

In the social age, it’s completely inexcusable to not understand the customer’s needs. All the information is there, you just need to know how to find it.

Actions your brand can take to help address this business problem with social data:

  • Harvest social data on your actual customers using email-matching and other techniques to find the public social accounts of your customers.
  • Collate all available public social data: profile information, positive or negative mentions of your brand (sentiment), how active they are, the devices they use, demographics, reviews and more.
  • Build a detailed and unified social profile of your customers: what they talk about, the things they like, hobbies, and their needs that your brand can address.
  • Share the resulting report throughout your organization, making sure every department gets a copy (sales, marketing, PR, IR, etc.). Update and redistribute the report regularly.

Business problem #3: The brand does not stand for anything and it does not promise anything. It is just a name and a logo.

Initially, you may think that this isn’t a problem that social data has anything to do with — it’s a branding issue. But, as marketers, we should always remember that branding starts with the customer. In the digital age, our brand is what our customers say it is, not what our marketing department thinks it is. And, just as we saw in the last example, social data can help you identify the customer’s perceptions and needs which can be used to shape a brand promise, and subsequently the messaging, that consumers will respond to.

Actions your brand can take to help address this business problem with social data:

  • Take a look at the report data you collected to address the business issue #2.
  • Outline the brand promise as you see it internally.
  • Use the data from the consumer report as a starting point to help shape your company’s brand promise with the customer in mind.
  • Create a plan on building and nurturing your brand communities to help boost your brand credibility and authenticity.

Business problem #4: The brand touts a clichéd, unsubstantiated, meaningless point of difference. Why should I buy?

Examples would be “we are the quality leader” or “the service leader” or “the innovation leader” or, worst of all, just “the leader”.

Messaging and content strategy is critical to any business. But in the social era those are not enough. To truly help your customers understand your differentiation and why they should buy from you, you have to engage with them, regularly and in a meaningful way.

Actions your brand can take to help address this business problem with social data:

  • Collect all the social media activity data for all the brands in your sector, including your own.
  • Analyze the language (all the keywords) that are used to describe products or services or the things that your brand stands for. Look at the content that your target audience connects with.
  • Document which content resonates, performs the best socially (likes, retweets, replies and other engagement) across the industry.
  • Use the results as a guide to forming a genuine point of difference that resonates with customers and differentiates you from your competitors. Craft your content and messaging strategy based on that information and ensure every department in your organization adheres to that for a unified brand voice.

In conclusion

Social media analytics is much bigger than just a departmental number-crunching function. It’s your direct connection to the voice of the customer. It’s a huge opportunity to find out the finest details about your customers and their needs, and then not only use this information to empower your organization as a whole (improve your product development, better your customer service, make your marketing more relevant, the list goes on), but to step up your game to form long-term relationships with your customers. And the only way to do that is to provide remarkable consumer experiences across every touchpoint, every interaction with your brand. Enabling great experiences for your customers leads to loyalty and advocacy. And isn’t that a goal of any business?

If you want to know how to get started with social media analytics, this Social Media Analytics Guide we created at Sprinklr is a great point of reference. It includes more examples of common business problems that social data can be used to solve, as well as what you need to do to take your first steps to helping solve them with social insights.

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