According to the PEW Research Center, two-thirds of American adults are now using social media platforms. Wowza!
Yet, it’s not just keeping up with friends and family that happen on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Consumers share pricing information, recommendations, opinions on tangibles and experiences, and other highly valuable information on their preferences, journeys, and experiences. This has become a natural way for many in their shopping processes today.
These conversations have the potential to provide a wealth of insight for marketers, insight teams, and consumer experience specialists.
Here are 6 ways retailers can benefit by investing more into social media intelligence:
1. Aligning brand positioning with brand image
In branding there are two positions, how a brand positions itself, and how its customers position it. Unfortunately, these are often not aligned.
Do the consumers agree with your brand image?
Best Buy, for example, wants people to feel and think that its business is about getting you the right tech (for you) at competitive prices (or atleast that's how I see it).
@BestBuy Best Buy also packs a one-two punch. One: Terrible customer service. Two: Inflated prices.— Aaron Tom (@ToxicHighway) March 5, 2016
However, the sample post above shows a consumer expressing their thoughts on Best Buy's ad.
Essentially saying, 'I don't really care about your deals because your prices are always high and you have terrible customer service'.
In this case, the consumer has revealed two reasons why they have a sense of distrust for Best Buy's voice.
You might just wonder, how many more consumers also feel this way?
What do they even think about your branding, or better yet, what about your closest competitors?
Harness both positive and negative qualities for both your brand and your competitors; and either validate, improve, revise or revamp marketing messages to better resonate with your target audience.
2. Creating better marketing / content strategies
Your consumer’s reaction to different marketing messages contribute to your brand’s overall image.
Do people like, love, loathe, or completely overlook your brand’s campaigns?
@TargetStyle decanting mouthwash = kind of brilliant! Definitely trying this. 👌🏼— Lauren (@laurenhitte) January 5, 2016
Pushing relevant, relatable content and promotions can reinforce that strong relationship with your audience(s). If you are slacking on this, there’s a good chance your consumers are diverting their attention elsewhere.
Remember to use those trends and analytics capabilities to help you understand which types of content are performing and resonating well with your audiences.
Record the flops in your campaigns to remind yourself what to do and not to do in the future.
3. Developing closer relationships with your consumers online
Social media shouldn’t be looked at as a megaphone, and it shouldn’t be just a distribution channel.
Actually having a conversation is one of the most powerful things a brand can do.
This means going beyond the customer support role and being a friend in your audience’s eyes. One particular industry that I feel could really use this to their advantage is the beauty industry. See samples below:
Just bought my first suede liquid lipstick from @NyxCosmetics and it was LIFE CHANGING. GUYS IM IN LOVE!!!— Charles (@Charlieeee_17) January 29, 2016
A simple, “Is your selfie game strong today? We’d love to see how fab you look in our new shade!” Can go such a long way in building that relationship.
4. Improving product development
Listen to more than just your consumers. This isn’t to say that you can’t improve your products and services by just focusing on your own brand (which you could still very much do), but you can do so much more by breaking out of your silo. What are some pain points that your industry is facing?
Let’s say you are a well known mattress brand trying to develop a better mattress than what’s already on the market.
From a broader perspective, you could look at what problems people are encountering when buying or when they are sleeping. Is it the shopping experience, the material, or maybe other social issues that play into the buying experience?
I spent $200 on a memory foam mattress topper and pillows today for neck problems instead of fun shoes. So this is 30. #Adulting— Meredith Geddes (@MeredithGeddes) March 30, 2016
I have back problems from my lower back not touching my mattress— em (@_emmaweiss_) March 11, 2016
When you spend $50 on a mattress pad that makes your back problems worse 😭😭😭— Sarah Mor-sass (@skett_ska) February 27, 2016
Get a leg up on the competition by being in-the-know of your industry problems that are already being discussed every single day.
5. Keeping up with the trends
Some styles are here to stay while others come and go. Utilizing social data to track different styles over time can be pertinent to retailers. Wondering if bell bottom jeans are really coming back?
Today I woke up to a plane being hijacked, my wife buying bell bottoms & ELO confirming Glastonbury. Did the clocks go back 40 years?— Tony Sylvester (@toneloki73) March 29, 2016
See how social conversations have changed year over year. If you see an uptick in positive mentions, it might be a good indicator that bell bottom jeans could be an option to include for your fall lineup.
6. Identifying potential influencers in your space
When big campaigns or potential partnerships are in play, identifying influencers with whom your audiences are most engaged can help with the heavy weight of cherry picking just anyone.
For instance, if your brand were Levi Jeans and you wanted an influential person to help fuel your Springtime promotions, you might want to understand some of your fans’ interests.
Is it celebrity gossip, music, cooking, football, surfing, traveling? Whatever it may be, understanding who else your fans follow and engage with is a powerful way to create stronger brand associations.
So when they see X they will naturally also think of Y (your brand).