After my last post on “How to use Google and Twitter to Find your Customers,” I’m following up on how to abstract value to improve your ideas.
Whether it’s for your marketing research or product innovation, the intention for gathering these data should NEVER be for spamming but to help integrate your value proposition into what people are truly interested in.
If you can become part of what people are interested in, you will have a better chance of connecting. Therefore it’s best to utilize permission marketing when executing your communication strategy.
Getting more data is great, but it’s not intended so you can just add more people to your weekly email blast.
Making quantitative analysis can help you create interesting ideas that differentiate your brand and drive actions.
So how can social media create opportunities for you?
Understand The Social Network Ecosystem
First, learn how each social network ecosystem works and the habits of the emerging “social consumers.”
Think of each social network as a town and the ecosystem is basically the infrastructure of the town.
Knowing how each social network is used is like having the map of the town.
Once you have knowledge of the streets around town, the next step is to find and connect with your customers.
This is where my last post comes in handy, if you can identify a social consumer online, he or she is more likely to have multiple social networking accounts which can help you to further profile your target audience.
This is especially helpful if you use a CRM (Customer Relationships Management) system such as GoldMine, Dynamics CRM or Salesforce.
Let’s look at B2C (business-to-consumers) social consumers; these are people that are willing to share their personal information on social networks engaging in activities such as updating their Facebook status, displaying their locations on Foursquare, leave their product reviews on Amazon or restaurant reviews on Yelp.
Accordingly to the latest study by Chadwick Martin Bailey, “consumers who are Facebook fans and Twitter followers of a brand are more likely to not only recommend, but they are also more likely to buy from those brands than they were before becoming fans/followers…The study also uncovered perceptions among consumers that those brands not engaging in social media are out of touch.”
The idea is to focus more on the power users that command influence within the social networks. Keep in mind connecting with “medium” and “light” users also helps to earn social proof and trust via the long-tail.
For B2B (business-to-business) the leading examples are LinkedIn, BusinessInsider, StockTwits, OpenForum by AmericanExpress and BusinessWeek’s BusinessExchange to see how businesses building communities that connects and shares information.
They represent how social network can be utilize to build a community by providing practical value whether it’s a piece of software, platform, resource center or networking destination, they give back in return to what participants put in.
I recommend doing some in-depth research to get useful data on demographics of your target audience.
Then identify the appropriate social network(s) that fits your demographics to go after.
The key to success will be your understanding of how your target social consumers think, act and make decisions.
What and who influence them?
How much research was done prior to the purchase?
What was the second or third option?
Implementing Accountability and ROI
Now that you’ve got your customer profiles and social network(s) identified, what’s next? For businesses serious about ROI (return on investment), it’s time to increase accountability of your marketing efforts.
You can do this by using existing data or the customer insights from your research (profiling, surveys, CRM) to create campaign projections, a realistic goal that you aim for.
Then create a mix of financial and nonfinancial metrics that you NEED to measure, not what you can measure.
This is to help you understand how your marketing activities impact the bottom line and how you can optimize them by doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Make sure you track your marketing cost as well as where the money is coming from to justify true ROI and conduct performance analysis.
How much does it cost to run a local campaign vs. national campaign?
What results are you getting targeting moms instead of kids?
Can you compare the effectiveness of your marketing investments in direct marketing and affiliate marketing?
Share Your Insights
Another great use of these valuable customer data is to share the insights with your customer service representatives, sales staffs, product development engineers, design teams, or anyone that will benefit from them.
If the sales staff knows what words or questions your target audience used most frequently when talking about your product, they can craft a better sales pitch.
If product engineers realize how many different ways people actually use the products they create, they can improve and create better products.
If the design team identifies how your customers come to visit your page and where they clicked, perhaps they can increase the conversion rate on your next campaign.
You can also involve them in the insight generation process to help increase the adoption and with regular distribution of these insights, everyone will take part to improve your business incrementally.
Ultimately you want to have a holistic view of your customer data so not only do you know what they’ve purchased, but also what they think about your industry, how they talk about your brand, and why they react to your campaign a certain way.
Simply put, it all comes down to keeping up with the shifts in how people think and act as well as the technologies used.
If you’re unable to keep up then outsource part of your social media efforts to marketers, consultants or agencies; but make sure you understand the implications.
Here is an short and excellent report on how social media influences paid search by GroupM Research.
The take away: The key to effective marketing communications is to have a solid brand strategy.
It’s indicative that social media must work together as an integrated whole of your brand strategy because your brand lives day-to-day in communication platform such as sales presentations, company brochures, product packaging and now the semantic web.
Synchronizing these efforts assures consistent communication of your brand’s strategy, helping to create brand awareness and recognition of who you are and why you matter.
Moving forward, there will be an increase demand for marketing ROI as more data becomes available and new measuring tools are developed.
As always, focus on the signal instead of the noise, maximize the value of social media to improve your business beyond marketing.
What do you think?
Love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share your ROI metrics.