Co-author: Corrine Evanoff
Social media isn’t just a tool for engaging with customers and building your brand, it can be a powerful resource to generate actionable insights. Providing a wealth of uncensored feedback about your company and your competitors, social data can help you better understand how to deliver the customer experience, products, and services that will differentiate your brand. It’s time to think of social networks as more than just another marketing or servicing channel; with the right strategy and analytics, you can gain the “intelligence” to increase marketing ROI and position your business for lasting success.
What can you gain with social media?
Customers are constantly broadcasting their experiences with products and services, which means you can gain plenty of real-time insight to fuel your business:
- Understand customer preferences and discover unmet needs. By understanding what your customers like and dislike about your company and offerings, you can make targeted improvements that will matter most. Learn what’s most relevant to various audiences, and tailor your marketing efforts to segments most likely to respond. And don’t forget to track what people are saying about your competitors: you may find opportunities to meet the needs of unsatisfied consumers to win their business.
- Identify emerging issues for quick resolution. A key part of growing your business is ensuring your customer experience is delivering on the brand promise. Regular monitoring of social media gives you the reality check you need: it helps you find and fix issues early on. Many companies have learned the hard way that ignoring social commentary can put them at risk of attrition. We highlighted one example in our Bank of America case study.
4 P’s of social media – A strategic approach for optimizing business value
Whether your company is new to social media or looking to gain more value from ongoing efforts, the following “4 P’s” approach—originally outlined in an August, 2013 Forrester Research, Inc.® report, “Driving Toward Social Intelligence Maturity”—can help you build a more effective social intelligence program:
- Purpose – Define your goals for social engagement and align them with key business objectives, then build strategies that support those goals. Be prepared to track your social media success by setting explicit goals that are measurable, and continuously monitor results. But be flexible: what you’re listening for might change, depending on trends spotted in the marketplace or other variables.
- People – Create a social management team with specific people managing key responsibilities from content strategy to monitoring and data analytics. To drive ongoing success from social media, your program should start with commitment and focus from senior management. For capturing the value from social intelligence, you’ll want data administrators and data analysts to work with the content daily as they have opportunities to spot emerging issues, trends in sentiment, and business opportunities.
- Platform – Understand social networking “listening platforms” for collecting and analyzing data, and choose a reputable platform provider that offers the type of data your company specifically needs. Make sure the data you gather is actually benefiting your business strategy and providing the right insights, so your social management team can translate findings into meaningful action. Again, be flexible: know that your business needs may require you to find a more suitable data provider.
- Process – Establish an effective workflow that enables you to identify and distribute insights. Though social media programs are always evolving, it is beneficial to formalize the processes your leaders, data admins, and analysts use in mining your social media data. This keeps things running smoothly—especially when companies suddenly expand their programs and need to bring in more people to increase the types or volume of social intelligence you’re gathering.
Ultimately, creating a solid yet versatile program to leverage the plethora of social data can deliver significant value to your business. By building your social management program with clear, targeted goals, the right data sources, and the right people to manage a systematic workflow, your organization can capture strategic social intelligence for growing and differentiating your business.
At Beyond the Arc, we often see a mismatch between the social media strategy that a company is pursuing and the benefits that they are hoping to achieve. Contact us today if you’d like to learn how to better align social media to meet your business goals.
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