Many eons ago-- so like, 2014-- social media got a really bad wrap in many business offices. It was seen as an immature place filled only with selfies, socializing and other shenanigans.
Today, more and more businesses are recognizing the necessity of adopting social media as a major marketing channel. Sure enough, brands have come around on Facebook and Twitter. These channels aren’t just for play. They offer real, concrete business impact.
Now is the time where we should take this concept a step further. Social media isn’t just a useful place to market your business. It’s also an incredibly valuable space for discovering crucial information about your audiences and potential customers.
With so much conversation happening online, it’s important to listen to what people have to say about your industry, your brand and your competitors.
Doing so can not only help enhance your social media strategy, it can help you make some key business decisions and streamline your approach to meeting business objectives.
Here are 4 ways you can harness the power of social media conversation to make decisions that drive business and brand growth:
1) Competitive Intelligence
Never before have we been able to get such a deep view into what our competitors are doing. Researching the competition used to be a tedious and highly inaccurate task. Today, brands make tons of information public. But it isn’t just the transparency or volume of digital content that has allowed for quality competitive analysis.
The online conversation has opened the door for seeing what people have to say about those competitors. With the power of social media technology, we now can get into the minds of our potential customers by seeing what real people are talking about all over the web.
These online conversations can help you make some important decisions about your business that go beyond just social media strategy. By monitoring competitors and the community discussions around them, you can get an idea of how people feel about topics that are crucial to your business approach:
- Marketing and Ad campaigns
- Industry trends
- Product innovation
- Audience and customer research
These competitive insights can give you a glimpse into how products, concepts and ideas have performed already within your given market. They can act as a pseudo-case study into what your customers really want and need, helping you to develop and offer better solutions to their problems and pain points.
Thanks to the social media listening technology that can weed through the wild, wild west forum of conversation. You can get precise information about your competitors, customers and industry right at your fingertips.
2) Feedback and Reviews
Focus groups used to be all the rage. If you had a product or service to sell, you got the opinion of the masses first. It’s still a very common practice. But how effective is it really?
Horror stories have been told of a product launch gone awry after a focus group of like-minded individuals in the same room gave rave reviews of a less than stellar product.
Social media has opened a new pandora’s box for access to information. The infinite reaches of the worldwide web contain billions of conversations from people who are talking about products, brands, pain points, interests, passions, emotions and other topics that could help you make key business decisions. These unsolicited conversations can act as new focus groups.
Eliciting the community of social media conversation, you can find real, unbiased, unfiltered feedback from people who had authentic experiences or ideas. This is where you can dive deep into sentiment, emotions, key demographics and other vital information about a number of topics ranging from your industry, to previous products, to competitor products.
You can get real-world insight into how people feel about your company, products, services, about the quality and cost of your products, and even how that new PR stunt may have performed. You can identify industry trends and discover how people are reacting to news, current events and viral content.
In this case, your sample size will be much larger than a focus group. It will be accurate because it comes without the influence of groupthink or people giving unrealistic feedback.
Monitoring the world of social media conversation, you get to discover how people naturally describe their experience around a certain topic. This will allow you to make far more precise predictions and decisions for your brand or business.
3) Measuring the Success of Ad Campaigns and Product Launches
By taking an in depth look into online conversations, brands can measure the success of product launches and ad campaigns. This can be crucial to determining the business impact of these efforts.
Knowing more than just the sales and budget figures, you can see how your customers respond to your efforts, which helps to make future decisions about launch events and strategy.
This is a simple approach to identifying the crucial data, lining it up with your KPIs and important benchmarks to see how effective these tactics are:
(Measure sales impact) + (document social conversation data) = understand success and determine future strategies
This isn’t a hard set formula to follow. But it is a way to contextualize the importance of discovering audience insights and gauging the reaction and feedback of your customer base. Doing so will help you make the most important decisions regarding product launches and advertising so you can streamline your approach and optimize your marketing strategies to fit your audience needs, wants and pain points.
Better yet, not only can business leaders and marketers gauge the success of these launches or campaigns, they can also see why the results are the way they are. Social media monitoring and listening can help you understand the reaction to your product launches and campaigns.
Example: Say Starbucks wants to know how successful the launch of a new seasonal drink is. They could measure the impact of its advertising campaign or even make predictions (see #4 below) about the success of that launch. Social media data can help provide context to why numbers are the way they are. Additionally, looking into insights about the online conversation, you can get unsolicited reaction from the public about that launch.
Starbucks can also measure how well the launch or advertising campaign performed for its typical well-known seasonal products, such as the Pumpkin Spice Latte. This could help them understand the success or lack of and apply those learnings to future seasonal launches. We did a full report that goes through the success of the PSL, which you can find here.
Conversely, you can also keep up with how people are responding to new messaging and advertising.
Another great opportunity that social listening gives brands is the ability to develop and measure their offline awareness and integrate their campaigns across channels and touchpoints. Now you can better measure the effectiveness of your messaging away from the Internet.
Want to see what people are saying about your big commercial during the Super Bowl? Social media is often the first place people turn to sound off on their thoughts and feelings. Gauge how your messaging was received by aggregating the online conversation data using the help of social listening tools, and there you go. Instant online feedback for offline efforts.
You don’t need to be on social media to use it to your brand’s advantage. People will talk about you regardless if you’re active on social or not-- although you probably should be in 2017.
What if you could make accurate predictions about the success of your business, your sales and the success of your product launches, or even make such predictions about your competitors? Only in your dreams, right?
Social media allows us to make such predictions. The innovation of social media technology gives brands the power to take a glimpse into the future to see how these scenarios might play out.
A beer brand can find out which of its competitors is growing the fastest, and an allergy medication brand can make predictions on their own growth during the spring allergy season.
How is this possible? Social media intelligence helps us tap into data that goes back over a decade to the infancy of social media and also online forums and microblogs to find trends that correlate with success of business efforts. We can do this for sales, advertising campaigns and even movie award winners.
Social media listening is now one of the most essential tools in your arsenal to help project the success of business efforts and understand that success respective to your customer development. This is an unprecedented opportunity for your brand to gain an advantage in your industry and stay one step ahead of the competition.
With the help of social conversations, brands can look into a crystal ball to understand how and why brands experience growth. It can also help determine if product launches and ad campaigns were or were not successful. All this will help you look forward and prepare for your future winning strategies
Getting to the heart of online conversations to understand people can play a vital role in reaching business objectives and making business decisions. Social media conversations enables you to identify what drives people to act and discover trends related to your business.
Knowing people’s unsolicited thoughts, feelings and emotions can inform your marketing strategy and product launches, as well as your advertising campaigns and messaging. Getting that in-depth intel into what your competitors are doing and how people are reacting within your target community can help separate your business from the pack.
Social media is extremely valuable as a marketing tool. However, its existence has opened up many, many more doors for businesses than just communication channels. It’s not only a way to distribute your marketing messages. It’s also a vast, far-reaching network of conversations that can give you real-world insights into the most important x-factor to your business: people.