How to build brilliant Social Media strategies for your Business… and Social Business

by GEOFF DE WEAVER, FOUNDER & CEO TOUCHPOINT DIGITAL AND
PH.D CANDIDATE.

Having started my career at some of the most success global brand agencies in the business e.g. DDB, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett – it was drilled into me as a junior account executive, fresh out of University, that ‘big ideas’ come from having deep customer insights and a thorough understanding of your target audience.  Without, this knowledge, developing value propositions, selecting the right channels, building rich customer relationships, resourcing appropriately and growing revenue streams would be impossible.

Simply, a big creative idea just doesn’t happen without a deep and rich understanding of your target audience online or offline.

Today, with Social Media and Digital, the same is true, to create effective campaigns, you must start with a deep, rich understanding of your target audience and customer segments. Customers comprise the basis for any business, and without profitable customers, no company can stay in business. Therefore, before kicking off any project or campaign, a deep understanding is needed about specific customer needs. In fact, I estimate that up to 50% of the success of any digital or social campaign is based on getting your target audience correct. E.g. what motivates them, what they like AND dislike, etc.

Old School Brand Marketing Thinking

Traditionally, Australian marketers and their advertising agencies have used either qualitative research (i.e. qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when) or quantitative research (i.e. the quantitative researcher asks a specific, narrow question and collects numerical data from participants to answer the question) to better understand their customers.

Besides being very expensive to run, for example one qualitative group alone could cost between $6,000.00 -$8,000.00. But, if you need to have multiple groups (say eight-ten groups) conducted around Australia to ensure accurate results, it could cost in excess of $80k plus.  And even more when you include travel costs, hotels, meals, per diem rates, etc.

On top of those costs, you will then have to wait weeks to get a ‘top-line’ result from a ‘traditional’ research company. Then, with much arm-twisting, you may get key findings presented about a month or so later. Sound familiar?

Importantly, as ‘group members’ are recruited to conduct  these ‘artificially’ established qualitative groups with supposed ‘peers, you really have to wonder what percentage of people are truly sharing their unique experiences and opinions, versus trying to say the politically correct thing in front of their peers. So, I have always questioned this aspect of qualitative research as well as the time consumed by this type of traditional research as it can take even longer to get results than from qualitative research.

Having worked in San Francisco during the halcyon ‘dot com’ days and more  recently in New York City on some huge Social brands, I discovered that  this ‘traditional’ approach to research methodology doesn’t always work well with always on, real-time, customer-centric Digital and Social Businesses. So, I want to share my thoughts on looking at your brand or topic through the unique lens of social media, and the specific measurements and metrics that matter in an ‘always on’ context.

But, thanks to the analytic packages now available, we can view coverage by such things as ‘mentions’ by vote count, comment count, Twitter followers, sentiment, media type and more. We can even look specifically at influencer data to discover who’s got clout (Klout, as in the company) in your industry and what they’re saying.

Times have changed – Millions of Conversations taking place online

So with millions of conversations taking place online every day, there is no better way to rapidly access and accurately listen to your customers, discover, measure and even actively engage with them right now, using Social Media Monitoring and Listening Tools.

Having used a number of different platforms/engagement consoles in the US over recent years, I am convinced these tools are for any organization that seriously wants to ‘hear’ what their customers are saying and be more transparent and engaging while facilitating conversations that build loyalty. These tools can help you find out what’s happening anywhere in the world, in real-time.  Importantly, they will save you tens of thousands of dollars over ‘old school research tools’ not to mention, instant, real-time access to decision making information.

North America is currently in the Early Adopter stage of use of Social Media Monitoring & Listening Tools but, only some of the most progressive marketing companies in Australia are still in the Innovator segment of the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle shown below. The North American experience highlights that the companies that are listening, monitoring and engaging with their customers are gaining market-share and developing even greater levels of engagement, dialogue, participation and collaboration than enterprises that are not as customer centric. Just look how DELL, Starbucks, eBay, Nike and other Social Businesses are even growing in this tough economic period.

According to a study done by the London School of Economics, continuously aligning business and IT increases overall productivity by around 20%, double individual contributions. It’s this type of synergy that is driving market leaders to use new and more product methods to tap into this new data resource in order to better understand their customer’s direct thoughts and opinions.

What are the Benefits of this ‘New Gen’ Monitoring Research?

Social Media Monitoring and Listening Tools deliver insights that can help make faster and better informed, real-time decisions. It also can improve your business in a variety of ways including:

  • Monitoring what consumers are saying about your brand or service
  • Identifying the social influencers for marketing outreach
  • Monitoring your online brand sentiment (great from a crisis management perspective)
  • Analyzing conversations around competitive brands and categories
  • Leveraging insights for strategic planning and market research
  • Identifying emerging issues that require immediate response. (i.e. not letting a PR Crisis escalate)
  • Gauging effectiveness of marketing campaigns and delivering ROI

In today’s marketplace Social Businesses leverage social networks to speed up business, to process and crunch big data faster, gain real-time insight and making faster and better-informed decisions it can longer be ‘business as usual’.  Effective Social Businesses must also realize that they need to share information and results with their partners and suppliers in a quicker and more responsive manner than years gone by because Social Business is a team effort.

Conclusion

So if you think your business or Social Business needs to be able to solve customer issues, analyze conversations about product or service issues, hear what influencers are saying about your company, address a PR crisis before it flares up, or even increase sales by identifying a set of topics, conversations, venues or influencers real-time, you need to start using Social Media & Monitoring tools.

Posted by Geoff De Weaver, Touchpoint Digital.

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One thought on “How to build brilliant Social Media strategies for your Business… and Social Business

  1. Interesting points. I tend to think you need a combination of both qualitative and quantitative analytics to properly understand the market (ignoring the other is naive).

    While you can measure social media to a large degree using quantitative approaches and get things fairly right, finding out what customers are saying about your brand and products/services seems to me to also be concerned with the why and how of your customers, or prospective customers. The “what, where and when” are easier to reason about. It was a gift, bought online and the only reason I chose this brand in this particular instance (which occurred when) was for the discount.

    The invaluable information of why and how is only put into context and used when people can apply quantitative metrics in order to derive some kind of meaning from it such as, more people prefer our brand than not.

    Example…

    I play golf and while Tiger Woods maybe Nike’s biggest name (influencer) around Nike golf products and Adam Scott maybe one of Titleist’s biggest influencers, neither one is going to persuade me to buy from either brand.

    In this particular instance, it boils down to feel. What club feels the best, so I might go with Mizuno. In that particular instance, I don’t care if Nike or Titleist has a comparable product and that Tiger or Adam plays it. So what, I have made up my mind (why and how), and that is individualistic.

    However, with other products (for digital cameras, Canon), I tend to be a brand junky. I don’t care if Nikon has a better camera for cheaper, I like the interface of Canon.

    So, no amount of quantitative analysis is going to get you to the reason. I am a big believer in automated everything, including forms of listening and monitoring, but they will not become truly effective until they can measure quantitatively the why/how in a more intelligent fashion, reliably (AI). With the advent of “Big Data” and all the possible fragmentation and deviations, this will become even more crucial.

    Companies use “influencers” to prey on the less than educated mind and capitalize on habit.

    Caring and trust can only occur when you put your customers concerns and problems above your own. Building a truly valuable product/service only occurs when you not compromise on the details (http://www.fastcompany.com/1798504/to-create-something-exceptional-do-sweat-the-small-stuff?partner=gnews). These are only achieved through listening attentively and engaging honestly.

    A business that plays it just by the numbers and uses persuasion/influence doesn’t sound that new to me… sounds like “business as usual”.

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