Mining and monitoring social media

Over the past few years, social media has dramatically changed the way people consume information and interact with brands.

As a result, virtually every industry has had to adapt and fundamentally shift the way they talk to customers. No matter how mainstream social media is becoming, or supposedly easier it is to manage one’s personal or professional brand, mining those social channels and integrating that consumer insight throughout an organization’s marketing mix is still a very complex process.

There are several basic yet critical factors for database marketing companies and list providers to consider as they seek to efficiently and strategically build brand awareness, strengthen relationships with existing customers and develop new ones through social media channels.

Similar to building a house, businesses need a social media foundation before they can construct the roof. With so many consumers primarily using social media as a way to gather information and participate in conversations within specific communities, traditional marketers need to constantly monitor these online discussions and find out what makes them tick.

After listening to and better understanding customers, it’s important to take the next step and engage them with consistent and targeted online and offline experiences.

A key tenet of database marketing is to capture the kind of information that can be used at a later date to learn how customers with prior activity will perform in the future.

For example, if a long-time catalog user hasn’t purchased anything in a year but is engaging with the brand online via social media channels, this might suggest the customer is shifting away from more traditional shopping methods. By tracking the frequency of a customer’s visits to a social media platform, and of course sharing that data across the enterprise, businesses can predict future behavior patterns and make more informed business decisions.

Many traditional marketers want to see immediate social media results, such as increased conversion rates or retail sales. While these are certainly attainable in some cases, to track social media’s true impact, marketers instead need to do things like evaluate and analyze key term or word usages in conversation. It will enable them to identify key trends in conversations that would indicate things like level of customer satisfaction and other customer service trends.

Financial metrics also need to shift to focus more on measuring annual repurchase rates.

Annual orders per buyer and new customer counts are influenced over a longer period of time. It’s important to remember that the sale that took six months of online cultivation is just as important as a short-term conversion.

Mike Fisher is SVP of sales and marketing for Alterian. Reach him at [email protected].

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