The amount of social data continues to explode, with more than 400 million Tweets sent per day and more than 1.3 billion active users on social networks around the world. While most large companies have social media strategies in place, many still struggle to keep up with the growing amount of data and what to do with it. Sure, there are many social monitoring tools available today, but merely listening and getting a high-level overview of what’s being said is no longer enough ...how do you actually make sense of all this information and build a successful strategy from it?
The seven points below tackle key ways that companies can create real actionable insights from real-time social data:
1. Monitor your brand and your industry
This is where many companies start their social initiatives. But what’s emerging now is industry-specific monitoring. Business intelligence companies like SecondSync (broadcast analytics), ReviewPro (hotel reputation management), and Next Big Sound (social music intelligence) are defining new industry-specific models and metrics, which are allowing their customers to improve their social strategies. For example, SecondSync measures social media analytics for TV, which are being used alongside the traditional Broadcasters Audience Research Board statistics. Their metrics, like Social Share and Peak Tweets per Minute, can be used by broadcast networks to help judge audience engagement and assist with programming and advertising sales.
2. Build a demographic picture of your social audience and engagers
Simply monitoring who is speaking about your brand still leaves you wondering who your social audience really is. Are your followers your target market, and are the people speaking about your brand the people you are trying to reach?
Identifying your followers’ age group, profession, location and interests and integrating social data on this level provides you with a unique capability to gain a deeper understanding of the demographic profile of your customers, enabling you to develop a more targeted approach to marketing, business development, product management, and the like. Digital agency Face, did a thorough study on @O2 Twitter followers, which illustrates the types of demographic insights that are possible with social data.
3. Serve your customers better by understanding what they "Like"
Demographic information is just the tip of the iceberg. As the Face study illustrates, social data also allows you to identify brand affiliations, interests and frequent topics of discussion. Armed with this information, you can uncover new ways to reach your customers, identify opportunities for partnerships or campaigns and optimize your brand messages.
MGM Resorts cleverly leveraged this strategy by creating a rewards program whereby M Life cardholders can turn “check-ins, Tweets, and photo sharing into VIP status,” by connecting their social media accounts to their cardholder account. Through this type of program, companies can better understand what brands, topics, and activities their customers are interested in, and in doing so, they can offer their customers discounts and rewards related to their interests. It’s a win-win situation: the company understands their customers better, and their customers get rewards they are interested in while promoting the partner brands to their followers.
4. Measure the social engagement of your content
As marketing departments aim to create interesting, shareable content to engage with prospective and current customers, enterprises are starting to look increasingly like online content publishers. The challenge here is how to measure the social engagement of the content your company produces. Just as sites like TweetMeme pioneered the mining of Twitter-links to show ‘what’s hot’, companies should measure the social engagement of every item of content they publish, from the influencers that have shared it, to the audience that it reached. With these insights, companies can tailor content, campaigns or program to their audience’s interests in order to maximize the reach and engagement of their content.
5. Use public sentiment to create predictive models
Sentiment analysis tools enable companies to identify trends based on public opinion. However, it goes much deeper than simply classifying your latest product launch reviews as positive or negative. Detailed sentiment analysis can actually enable companies to build predictive models to assist in forecasting, for everything from opening-weekend movie sales to stock price movement. Currently, sentiment analysis in the financial industry is a hot-topic, and more and more, results are showing that social sentiment is proving useful as a trading indicator and predictor of stock price shifts.
6. Identify prospective customers with "needs" and "intents"
With people constantly using the social arena to provide feedback and suggestions on everything from gadgets to recipes, the opportunity exists for businesses to connect with potential customers in need of their products and services. Intent marketing, as its known, is based on identifying and responding to needs and intentions expressed socially. The problem is: how do you find them?
Startups like NeedTagger use natural language processing and sentiment analysis tools to mine millions of social conversations. They identify people expressing needs for specific products, services and content, and then connect them with companies that answer those needs.
7. Extend your business intelligence with social data
The next step in social is emerging with the integration and analysis of social data with traditional customer and transactional data. This powerful combination helps companies understand the correlation of customers’ social behaviors with their actionable decisions, whether making a purchase, or filing a complaint.
Oracle Endeca has created a sophisticated analysis platform that is built to aggregate and analyze both structured enterprise data and unstructured social data. The unified platform allows companies to correlate and analyze social and traditional data together, giving them a comprehensive view of their customers and business, while helping to improve innovation, productivity and ultimately, business growth.
So now what?
The flood of real-time social data holds huge rewards for companies that can separate useful information from the noise. The challenge is to avoid drowning in big data. Enterprises need to define a focused strategy and identify exactly the data they need, rather than trying to analyze everything. For those that are able to do this, valuable insights await. And remember, you don’t need to be a billion dollar business to make the most out of social.