Social Media: Diamonds in the Rough
Social media is everywhere, and social intelligence continues to be a growth segment for businesses trying to make decisions from this source of "Big Data." But how do you know where to start looking for answers? Here are four tips on where marketers should start digging to find social insights that help meet business goals:
1. Establish Social Objectives
At the core of social media analytics is the task of finding a conversation and opening a dialogue based on what is said. However, just knowing the conversation exists doesn't do any good if marketing managers haven't identified the objectives and key business questions that will be most impactful for the brand/company.
One definition of success may mean being able to quickly and adeptly manage customer feedback and communication—either through the normal course of business or during periods of crisis. This social objective is far different from an objective for analyzing social data to make product development decisions. Regardless of the social objectives, it is imperative to make sure they are well-defined and effectively communicated within your organization and to your agencies/partners, as they will influence where to find the most relevant data and channels.
2. Insights Are Not Equal
Once primary social goals are set, marketers need to realize what kind of communication occurs on each social network. Just as diamonds, gold and rubies are each invaluable, they hold different values depending on who the consumer is. This is true for the various social media platforms—each holds an abundance of information, but the most cherished information will come from choosing the appropriate audience to achieve the overall business goal.
Common questions to ask when deciding what source to use include:
- What is the overall purpose and audience of this network?
- Who are the key influencers?
- How are users/customers expressing themselves?
Twitter is great for very quickly understanding what news is trending, but it's not optimal for deriving rich insights about consumers. Twitter is more of a broadcast channel used by people and companies to amplify a particular announcement or for link sharing, and the amount of original content produced is surprisingly small. If the social objective is to get a message out to the highest number of consumers possible, there's definitely value in leveraging Twitter. For customer service, Twitter is great for quickly responding to issues that come up before the problem spreads to other channels. From a research perspective, however, Twitter doesn't allow a deep dig into what makes people decide to align with a brand, make a purchase or take any sort of action.