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Don’t Let Social Media Data Spook You

Enterprise Software | Posted on November 29, 2017 by Arnab Chakravarty


The internet is teeming with valuable market data.

It’s where consumers go to share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the products they love – or hate. Unfortunately, a lot of actionable data is buried under piles and piles of useless information. When it comes to harnessing that social data, the challenge is separating the treasure from the trash.

If you’re like most organizations, you categorize your social listening in two areas:

  • Metrics: determining the size and reach of your audience, and
  • Engagement: reaching out to specific, vocal users

You’ve identified your primary social channels. You zero in on topics and hashtags relevant to your brand. You even make an extra effort to reach out to the occasional angry poster who may churn.

But, there’s a third, critical aspect to social listening. You need to identify and understand broad customer segments.  This will help you build a messaging strategy that resonates.

In our recent webinar with IBM Watson Analytics, we explained how social media analytics tools empower you to make customer-driven decisions and optimize your campaign spending.

Check out the webinar here.

Widening the Net

You may be confident that you know the channels where consumers are talking about your brand. But, gut instinct and a limited view of the social media universe can obscure the bigger picture. Customer feedback surveys may be misleading because they reflect your own thinking. They don’t answer the questions you never thought to ask.

You need an unbiased approach that captures information from all available sources.

Traditional approaches cover channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. They miss valuable information from blogs, product review pages or forums like Reddit.

You need to broaden your horizon for social sources to understand what your audience is thinking before your product hits the market.This will help you identify target segments, develop key messages, and field strong campaigns

A good social analytics tool automates a lot of this. It also introduces sentiment analysis, which assesses the context of the conversation about your brand. So, you get an accurate snapshot of consumer opinion. At the same time, the tool will show you how much of the conversation is about your competitors.

The Value of Social Listening

Burger King’s “Chicken Fries” are a great example of the power of social listening.

The product accumulated somewhat of a cult following during its run. But it disappeared from the chain’s US restaurants in 2012.

Burger King uses a customer-oriented “have it your way” approach. Their typical product development cycle spans six-to-twelve months. During that time, they develop new products and associated marketing campaigns.

A fateful (and perhaps misinterpreted) tweet by a popular entertainer prompted Burger King to reconsider the menu item. They brought it back for a limited-time offer using the hashtag #ChickenFriesAreBack. Because of the promotion’s success, chicken fries earned a permanent place on the menu.

A leading consumer-packaged-goods firm uses social listening in a different way. They created a repeatable process that now drives campaigns for their electric toothbrushes.

In the past, the company used intensive market research to inform those campaigns. This included market surveys, focus groups, and analyst reports. Each twelve-to-eighteen month cycle included weeks of aggregation and analysis. Besides being time-consuming, it was expensive.

This continued until a forward-thinking marketer recognized the power of online data. Consumer advocate sources and online reviewers were already collecting this information. By using social analytics tools to harness this data, they saved months of work and millions of dollars in market research.

Case in Point

The value of a powerful social analytics tool comes from its ability to:

  • Access data from across the web
  • Understand sentiment at the conceptual level
  • Track conversational dynamics using social data analytics, and
  • Provide guidance and analysis based on the insights

But the single most important feature of any social analytics tool is its power to provide fast, simple access to aggregated information. It would be impossible to do this with a manual approach.

We used a hypothetical example to test a tool in the webinar. We pretended we were a distributor of Halloween items – costumes, decorations, and candy. After identifying common themes associated with the holiday, we pulled data. We found tens of thousands of documents from across the web and traditional sources.

Then, we analyzed this information by theme, timeframe, location, demographics, and sentiment. Within minutes, we determined the following:

  • Costumes are the most talked about Halloween-related item
  • “Witch,” “clown” and “zombie” are the most mentioned costumes
  • There was a spike in mentions of witch costumes on October 2nd
  • Conversations around Halloween costumes peak in California, Texas, and Georgia
  • “Witch” costume has a high positive association, while “clown” has a negative sentiment
  • Women are the demographic driving the conversation around witch and zombie costumes
  • “Zombie bride costume” has a high quantity of specific mentions
  • Most of the sources featuring mentions of “zombie bride costumes” are video-based
  • One online influencer has a high degree of clout around the subject of Halloween costumes

In summary: we decided to focus our campaign on witch and zombie costumes in California, Texas, and Georgia, with ads targeting women on YouTube.

This kind of real-time market research grants visibility into who your audience is and what motivates consumers to buy. It also evaluates competitor activities and their impact on social chatter.

Nothing to Be Afraid Of…

The sheer volume of data online is intimidating.

Using a social media analytics tool will enable you to get the most out of your social media presence. It’ll also provide unbiased consumer insights, which will help optimize your marketing spend. The results will be messages that resonate because they’re attuned to the market.

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