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Beyond Likes, Shares & Retweets: More Advanced Uses Of Social Data
Columnist Rick Miller reveals how marketers can create consumer-centric campaigns that sell using their own rich, social data.
A much-ballyhooed Gallup study uncovered some ugly “truths” about social media, including a reputed inability to influence purchasing decisions. According to the study, 62 percent of Americans say Facebook, Twitter and their ilk have no influence on whether they purchase a product.
Although asking consumers to accurately recount the advertising methods that ultimately drove them to purchase is likely a fool’s errand, many marketers who have attempted to correlate standard social metrics to sales and other conversions have struggled to make a connection.
As a result, in many marketing shops the number of likes, shares and retweets a brand receives daily is lessening in importance. But that doesn’t mean social media offers nothing of value — advanced marketers are leveraging social data for reasons beyond direct marketing tactics.
Why Should Marketers Care About Social Data?
Consumers still talk about brands and products on social media, affording brands the opportunity to learn which elements of campaigns and brand strategies are engaging consumers and to determine consumers’ purchase intent. There are a number of reasons why social data can lead to more effective marketing campaigns. Social data:
1 Acts As A Large-Scale, Unbiased Focus Group
In-person focus groups are expensive and time-consuming. And many times, it’s difficult to gain honest feedback from focus-group participants due to in-room social dynamics. Instead of investing resources on in-person focus groups, brands can turn to social media to understand customers and gain valuable insights.
Consumers actively share product and brand feedback on social media. They tell followers why they like or hate a certain product, when they use a product, and whether they recommend a brand. Often this provides marketers with more valuable and transparent information than can be captured in a focus group.
2. Provides Currency
Social data provides real-time insights into customer reactions to current events, product launches or brand news. This helps marketers identify real-time audience sentiment and changing market trends as they happen.
The day Apple announced its Apple Watch, conversation surrounding the brand accounted for 3 percent of all social media conversations, plus the announcement increased overall social conversations about the smartwatch category.
The conversation continued in the days following the announcement, but it shifted to comparisons of the different design attributes among brands. Having these insights could have helped the brands tailor their marketing strategies in real time to address to new customer interests.
3. Gets Specific
Marketers can take social data further by isolating specific audience discussions and breaking down the conversations to analyze where a consumer stands in the purchase funnel. A post mentioning the brand, for example, may be categorized as simple brand awareness, but a post mentioning specific attributes may be scored as familiarity or perhaps consideration.
By leveraging social data’s specificity, marketers can identify clusters of high-potential consumers to target with more personalized campaigns.
4. Offers A View Of The Competitive Landscape
Social data can illustrate where consumers perceive your brand falls within its category. And understanding your competitive landscape in terms of purchase intent (specifically) and category conversation (generally) can be essential for planning or adjusting your marketing strategy.
After the Apple Watch announcement, conversation surrounding the purchase intent of all smartwatches increased, and some brands saw larger growth than others.
For example, intent to purchase the Moto 360 comprised 8.6 percent of consumer conversations about the product following Apple’s watch launch; but it was less than 4 percent when Moto made its own announcement months earlier. If it identified and reacted to the fervor Apple created in the space, Motorola could have carved out a wider competitive position.
Marketers that get beyond the standard social metrics of likes, shares, and retweets have a rich, dynamic dataset at their fingertips – with which they can fuel current, context-specific, consumer-centric campaigns.
Marketing watchers like Gallup may debate the value of social media for years to come, but savvy marketing practitioners can reap plenty of value today if they use the data correctly.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.