A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the whole idea of social data and conversations on social media sites was laughable. Sites like MySpace, Friendster and Facebook were simple, fun places where people could socialize online and share their life with hundreds of their “closest” friends. People would discuss what color clothes they were wearing, what mood they were in, what their plans were for the day and who might have wronged them recently – they even let us know when they were on their way to work, sipping a glass of wine or off to the latest Star Wars convention.
However, as time went on and Facebook and Twitter began to dominate the social space, a shift began in the kinds of things people were talking about. As Facebook evolved and started offering “fan pages” where someone could create a page on something or someone they really liked, a new idea was born: Businesses now had a social venue that allowed them to brand themselves in a social space and best of all, get instant reader feedback.
“Listening” became a corporate norm, and with it hundreds of vendors and software solutions were created to form an entirely new industry. With all of this information available for businesses to gather feedback, it was essential to understand what people were saying about their brands. And, brands needed to determine how and/or whether or not to respond to negative or positive comments. Today, most businesses have mastered the listening phase of the social revolution and taken advantage of the multitudes of software solutions that are available to help them react to and monitor what consumers are saying. But how does one respond effectively and also isolate subpopulations of negative consumers against a broader positive consumer base?
If someone posts about relaxing with a glass of wine, an organization can find out what the consumer’s wine brand or taste preference is. Also, if someone posts about a new membership club they joined, an organization can determine if this caused others to follow suit.
This is where we are at today. Businesses are now realizing that just listening to what is being said about a certain topic, product, service or brand and responding to everyone in the same way isn’t as effective as they had hoped. So what’s a marketer to do? They profile their social consumer to understand key differences between those that are high-value and loyal brand advocates versus those that are low-value, negative consumers. By combining social data with traditional data, a brand can now understand their consumers across social media and other online and offline channels. If someone posts about relaxing with a glass of wine, an organization can find out what the consumer’s wine brand or taste preference is. Also, if someone posts about a new membership club they joined, an organization can determine if this caused others to follow suit. This allows marketers to see if social media has any correlation in customer loyalty or consumer purchasing patterns. With this next evolution in social media marketing, brands are now able to make even more sense out of the vast amount of social data that exists in the social sphere. Once a brand understands more about the specific segments of consumers that are socially active, it’s time to move on to “publishing,” the final phase of social marketing.
With profiling, publishing becomes far more effective and efficient and a brand no longer has to blast everyone with the same social messaging.
When publishing, a brand has the opportunity to reach out to its consumers in a smart, targeted way. Utilizing the information learned in the listening and profiling phase, brands can target certain messages or ads to specific sub-segments of consumers. For example, if a brand’s high-value, socially active segment has been recently complaining about a new product line, the brand can take corrective action and target the individuals that fit into that segment with messaging similar to, “We’ve heard you and now we are working to make things better.” Whereas, if a brand’s low-value, non-socially engaged segment is complaining about a service, a brand may just want to send them a coupon or “sorry” message. With profiling, publishing becomes far more effective and efficient and a brand no longer has to blast everyone with the same social messaging.
Listening, profiling and publishing all work in harmony to provide the most impactful social marketing communication. Each one alone has its value, but together the three are worth more than the sum of the parts. As brands grow and continue to evolve their social communication, these three phases need to become more interconnected in the overall marketing plan.
Register for this webinar titled Harnessing Social Media for Accelerated Multi-Channel Performance on June 21st and find out how to get started. May The Force be with You!