Written by Will Bosma, Director, iGo2 Group
Every social media guru exhorts you to ‘Listen’ first in social channels before ‘engaging’ or ‘participating’. Sadly, those three words are becoming the sign of a ‘snake oil’ salesperson instead of a sign of expertise as so few can explain what it means.
Someone who does know what he is talking about, has expressed this as a variation on the grammatical rules we all learned in school – “Insight before Engagement unless Customer or Community needs take immediate precedence,” says Brian Solis in The Rise of the Connected Customer and the New Era of Relevance.
So where to start?
Utilise a good set of tools or service and take an assessment of where you are. “The social data streams are a goldmine of information but if you don’t extract the gold it looks like any other hill,” says Ron Ploof in Executives Guide to New Media. Look for mentions of your brand, key services and products. Are they positive or negative? Who is making them? Do they have influence? Same for competitors. And your partners – little point in having a great program in ‘social’ when your partners are in the 19th century.
Analyse the conversations. Where are they taking place (location and channels)? What terms are people looking when searching for you or your competitors or products and services you provide? What kind of groups do they belong to? Where else do they go? Who they are listening to?
All this and more is available in the social data streams and they are unfiltered – a direct conduit to your market. And then utilise this data to make informed decisions on your business processes. What does this data mean for how I innovate new products? For my customer service processes? My sales teams? Use the data to set sensible and business outcome focused strategies and goals.
You must also set up a monitoring program. You need to track the changes in everything we discussed as your strategy is deployed. Are the conversations becoming more positive? Is my service improving? Are more people discussing my brand? New people? And what’s the result? Increased revenue? Reduced costs?
Finally, you must consider the governance, risk and compliance issues associated with your use of social – consider areas like crisis management and data retention and how you will deal with it and be able to defend it – many years later.
Some people would tell you there is no value in the social data stream – that Social business intelligence is an oxymoron! Far from it; it’s a must for market research today.