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Three Ways Brands Can Tap Social Data to Increase Customer Engagement

by Jordan Slabaugh  |  
August 29, 2013

Brands have shifted from simply having a social presence to listening and now proactively engaging---fundamentally transforming the way they build relationships and deliver positive customer experiences.

With that change comes a growing need for social teams around the globe to not only invest more resources in social but also to invest more wisely so that social positively impacts the bottom line. And with more social data at brands' fingertips, brands can increasingly be more strategic in terms of how and when they engage.

Here are three ways brands can tap into social data to inform and enhance their engagement strategies.

1. Identifying and Prioritizing Conversations Requiring a Response

The social signal to noise ratio grows larger each day with more content and conversations entering into the social sphere. Hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations take place daily about individual brands, their competition, or industry-relevant developments. And more times than not, the window to acknowledge and respond to these conversations is short.

For example, someone complaining about a product can signal that a customer service-related conversation needs to happen to retain a loyal customer, which likely takes priority over a mention of your brand by an employee. A recommendation request for alternatives to your competitor is a timely opportunity for your brand to respond and provide an offer that can actually grow the bottom line.

Staying plugged into all the relevant social conversations can be daunting, but social data can help inform---and prioritize---the most meaningful conversations across all stages of the customer journey. The lengthy process of identifying, deciding, and routing social responses has evolved with the help of social analytics, making social teams smarter and more effective. Social analytics can categorize the various types of conversations interesting to a business beyond a simple keyword search. What’s more, the classification of these can be seamlessly routed to the teams and individuals best suited to engage, based on the business need at hand.

2. Spotting and Capitalizing on Relevant Trends

Using data, marketers can now create their own business opportunities from real-time trends---even when the conversations are not inherently about them. Oreo recently cemented the power of real-time, proactive engagement during the Super Bowl with its “you can still dunk in the dark” campaign. While the power outage was not related to the confectionary product in any direct way, the social team was proactively keeping a pulse on social trending topics and took a chance to connect its brand with the iconic event. The lesson here is that real-time marketing can pay off in spades, but it also takes infrastructure and the ability to uncover what your audience has top of mind.

Using social data, brands can track the most impactful topics to stay ahead of the conversation, whether it’s large pop-culture events or everyday conversation topics important to a brand’s audience. Staying in front of topics your customers care about and participating in conversations where potential customers are spending their time helps to drive more business.

A great starting point in this effort is tracking spikes in the volume, sentiment, and engagement in the social conversations relevant to your business, and moving quickly to react when the opportunity presents itself.

3. Combining Social Data with Big Data to Get the Full Picture

The social business of the future will be smarter and more connected as we continue to integrate more marketing data to offer a complete view of the customer journey. Connecting each layer of the marketing data ecosystem is starting to become a reality for brands, making it possible to create a 360-degree picture of audiences and their behaviors.

Combining social data, CRM information, web analytics, and paid advertising performance (to name a few) can let you know when and how to reach your audience and what content and offers resonate with them. It can also create a feedback loop for enhanced relevancy and in future engagement strategies. Ultimately, these efforts can also give you the ability to track the business impact of each touch point across business units.

The need to drive business impact with social will only continue to grow in the coming years. Brands need to start leveraging social data now to increase loyalty and share of voice, raise awareness and prove a return on their investment.

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Jordan Slabaugh is the director of Social Media at Spredfast, a social media management system for enterprise companies and agencies.

LinkedIn: Jordan Slabaugh

Twitter: @jordanv

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  • by John Ziegler Thu Aug 29, 2013 via blog

    Well stated. I agree that by reaching out across multiple channels and collecting data on how the audience interacts with each is the only way to drive waste out of advertising budgets. Getting know each customer allows you to speak clearly and relevantly to keep them engaged.

    However, we also think the social business of the future includes actual sales opportunities within all sales channels. We see that by focusing solely on interacting without an in channel transaction capability gives you only a partial picture of the audience. Why not move the metric from "intent to purchase" to "purchase?" Right now there are are links and apps to allow audience members to make purchases online. But, the conversion rates are low because they are not designed to facilitate the sale.

    That is changing.

    We have seen dramatic behavior shifts when an audience member is presented with the option to make a purchase. There is a higher rate of engagement and, not too bad for the brand, actual revenue. At some point you have to ask for the sale.

    Digital solutions additionally make it easier to test your ask. So, try different messages, try different price points, capture the results and include a revenue metric directly tied to the marketing action, not only intentions.

  • by Marcus Cheng Mon Sep 2, 2013 via blog

    You're spot on about applying social data.

    I'm curious about what tools you're using and/or would recommend using beyond that the standard analytics provided by facebook and twitter.

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