Getting more from social intelligence

By James Ainsworth

A few years ago, a social media monitoring tool may have been a nice to have; something to play around with as we toyed with vanity metrics, shallow inferences and searched for the business benefit for such tools and measures. Today, social media monitoring is an established requirement for many business functions, but with that comes a greater need to tie its use and its output back to the business’ goals. This is especially true for forward-thinking businesses that embrace the notion of the Customer Journey, which acknowledges that customers have many points of interaction with a brand and many opportunities to be positively or negatively influenced by those interactions. Businesses need to move beyond simply monitoring social media conversations and start to use social data to deliver genuine insights that can drive business decision-making.

An effective approach to social data will provide businesses with an understanding of the critical information related to your business and the ability to identify trends and act quickly and effectively, before opportunities are lost.

Achieving this level of effectiveness can be extremely challenging. After all, social is an unstructured and complex dataset and it can require a great deal of time and expertise to tame it and develop a framework that allows you to tie insights back to the actions and, in turn, to the goals of the business. However, by combining the latest advances in social intelligence software with an in-depth understanding of the customer journey, it is possible for businesses to tackle the issues of Complexity, Action and Time and turn social media information into a highly predictive data source by which decisions making can be fine-tuned.

By adding structure to the social data set and taking advantage of software based algorithms, it is possible to make sense of social data by plotting it against the stages that make up the customer journey. Analysing social data in this manner allows businesses to pinpoint, at a granular level, opportunities to deliver an improved customer experience.

Gone are the days of a ‘spray and pray’ approach to marketing. Today, we have the ability to identify the personas that are likely to buy a product, or promote a brand and deliver compelling and relevant messaging to those individuals that will result in a positive outcome for the business. And the traditional approaches of launching a new product to market and running focus groups or labour intensive traditional market research sometime after the fact have been overtaken by near real-time measurements of pertinent social conversations which can inform the need to address any concerns or barriers to purchase.

Listening trumps the old methods of making assumptions and contributing to the layers of wild speculation. However, making sense of the social world is one thing; understanding the drivers of this behaviour and what lurks beneath is another beast altogether. It is only by listening and measuring that we get the holistic overview of campaigns, relevancy of messaging, success of products and more; understanding – rather than second guessing – the customer journey.

Let’s take a broad and simplistic view of what social intelligence used to be; perhaps viewing in a dashboard that the sentiment of mentions around your product has gone up five percentage points. This tells you that mentions are good and better than in the time-frame in which you are making the comparison to, but it is too simplistic to help guide decision-making. You have no way of identifying where exactly the improvements have come on the path to purchase.

For instance, a net increase of five percentage points in sentiment may be the result of your customer service team doing a great job resolving customer confusion in the post-purchase phase. This could therefore be masking a serious issue in the out-of–the-box experience phase or even at the assessment phase of a purchase, where information, peer-reviews and mainstream press coverage are thin on the ground.

By mapping social conversations to these stages on the path to purchase, your social intelligence becomes a tangible and truly powerful opportunity to drive the business, to course correct and address shortfalls in the business.

About the author

James Ainsworth is senior marketing manager EMEA at SDL Social Intelligence.

Twitter: @SDLjames

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