social media marketing

Photo credit: Simon Cunningham via Flickr

Data from social media offer a potential goldmine of information on a brand’s customers, prospects, products and competitors. In earlier days, brands were happy to participate in social media and ignored the resulting data.  Now, more brands are capitalizing on the benefits of social media analytics. Almost two-thirds of marketers now aggregate social media data for social media marketing, according to a study by Demand Metric.

The challenge is deciding what social media content to monitor and what data to analyze. It’s typical to feel swamped by the enormous amount of data flowing from social media monitoring service like Vanity metrics such as number of followers or likes are tempting to report but have little real marketing value. Instead, the measurement gurus like Katie Paine, recommend focusing on meaningful, actionable metrics such as referrals and conversion rates.

Here’s a guide to what marketers can learn by monitoring and analyzing social media mentions about the organization, brands, product categories, issues and competitors.

Your content. Social media analysis can determine to what extent your audience is sharing your content and what content they are sharing. If you create content that’s relevant and interesting to your target audience, the audience will spread the messages for you and increase your marketing reach. By paying close attention to the types of content that most interest your audience, you can learn how to develop messages that your audience is more likely to connect with and share.

Your business. People tend to be honest on social media. By monitoring for mentions of your corporate and brand names, your organization can learn what people really think about them. You can gain insights into how people feel about your products and services and learn where you can make improvements. Social media also makes it possible to engage with your audience — respond to comments, resolve complaints, and provide other help that customers appreciate.

Your audience. Studying social media users who mention your brand can reveal who your audience is and what they like. You can learn what social networks and type of content they prefer. For instance, you can determine if they prefer to share images, videos or infographics. Finding what your audience likes is easier in networks such as Facebook where their likes are publically posted. On other sites, you can uncover their preferences through their use hashtags or keywords in their posts.

Influencers. Some social media users naturally acquire significant influence, as they have a substantial number of followers who trust them. Besides individuals, influencers can be other businesses or Internet personas. An influencer’s positive comment about a product can prompt others to start a relationship with the business. When developing a marketing strategy, consider influencers’ preferences, what they like, and their keywords they use. Establishing successful relationships with influencers is one of the core methods of social media marketing.

The competition.  Social media monitoring often reveals your competition’s marketing strategy, including their content, target audience, and messages. Any content your competitors release to their audiences is also available for your scrutiny.

Organizations can gather and analyze the vast amount of data to create a customer persona — a list of demographic characteristics that describes their typical customer. They can then use that persona as an example of an average customer when communicating with their audience. In social media, communications that feel one-to-one are the most effective. Talking one-to-one to the persona you created will improve your communications to your entire audience.

Bottom Line: With the explosion of social media use, marketers can employ social media measurement to tap into a treasure trove a data on their customers, products, and competitors. That information can help improve social media content and better reach the target audiences.