Social media intelligence is the art and science of gathering data about online conversations so that you can use that information to improve your content creation and deliver more value to your audience.
Back in 1999 The Cluetrain Manifesto stated that markets are conversations, and that the Internet is enabling conversations that were simply not possible in the era of mass media. That has certainly proven to be the case.
But it’s not enough to know that there are conversations taking place. It’s not even enough to monitor the conversations and be willing to participate in them. You need to know who is having the conversations, what they’re talking about, where those conversations are taking place, and which conversation you need to participate in.
That’s requires gathering and analyzing data.
You also need to know who the influencers are in each conversation or topic. These are the people who shape the narrative around your brand. Digging into these conversations can reveal valuable insights that can improve your bottom line.
The more you know about your customers, clients, employees, and competitors, they better your planning will be. You need to understand your potential clients’ mindset and craft a business strategy that provides what they need and want. Find gaps and threats you would otherwise not have known about. In depth insights can uncover opportunities that allow you to thrive in a tough economy.
Savvy PR and marketing folk are digging deep into the conversations – mining that data to find insights that can drive strategy, inform product R & D, and give them a competitive edge.
You start by listening and gathering information about your brand/s, your company, and your competitors. Once you have the data. use that old PR skill called content analysis.
- Map where conversations about your brand, product, or topics of interest are taking place in social media platforms
- Identify the influencers in each node
- Discover what different groups within one node are talking about and what’s important to them
- Tap into what your competitors are doing and what people are saying about them
- Identify threats and opportunities
- Share the data you find with your team and others across the organization
- Brainstorm how best to implement what you find to support the organization ‘s goals
There is a ton of information available in the social networks and conversations, but it takes technology, commitment, and work to find all the threads. A monitoring tool can do a lot of the work, but there is still a lot that must be done manually.
Even with all the tools available now, and the vast amount of data you can gather, the analysis cannot be done automatically. It takes a live person with a bright and inquiring mind to read the content and figure out what’s important and what’s connected – to see those brewing threats and spot the low-hanging fruit that will bring big rewards.
Finding a New Direction
Rosetta Stone had always marketed their language courses to people who wanted to learn another language for practical reasons: doing business in another country or foreign travel. Some people do it just to be considered urbane and cool.
With the goal of creating a community they could listen to Rosetta Stone started a Facebook page and actively gathered a large number of their customers there. Listening to conversations about the brand they discovered that people over 50 were talking about scientific studies that showed that learning a language can keep the brain active and healthy. As a result of seeing this vigorous conversation, the company investigated this age group as a possible new market for their products. Rosetta Stone partnered with AARP to reach this audience.
They researched and published a white paper, “The Positive Effects of Bilingualism in the Adult Mind and Brain,” written by former Newsweek chief science writer, Sharon Begley – a perfect example of Brand Journalism. The paper is an overview of research by several scientists investigating the potential benefits of speaking more than one language on various brain functions like memory and cognition. Some of the research, for example, strongly indicates that being bilingual from a young age can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by an average of 5.1 years.
Rosetta Stone tested this type of messaging and positioning in social media ads targeting people over 50, those interested in MENSA and similar mental challenges. These ads performed more than three times better than previous campaigns.
“This type of messaging allowed us to move from a language company to a learning company,” said Eric Ludwig, senior director of online marketing at Rosetta Stone at the time. “We would not have discovered this new direction without building a community of our customers and really listening to their voices and their concerns.”
Small Business Version
An independent garage in the UK owned by an ex-racing driver was doing specialist work for vintage automobiles for vintage races and showcases. His goal was to build up his business to support the specialized trade and reconnect with his network and interests in motor racing.
Social media research found 75,000 people in the immediate area interested in racing. A short video about the work he had been doing building rally cars featured a track day he had held. With just a small paid boost to the post the interest was astronomical.
In comparison, the video that had been put out at Christmas featuring their traditional garage work had garnered only a few thousand views and translated into some bookings for the garage for regular maintenance work on family vehicles. The track day video got close to 20,000 views and more than 8000 engagements. This resulted in new rally and racing customers coming to him for work. He ran out of space and had to rethink his operation.
His entire business is now focused on building rally cars and taking care of race drivers. They just got best-in-class at the last national rally and are growing faster than before in a more specialized field with more money per job done and more sustainability and return business. Instead of a piece-by-piece sales system they have clients who are ongoing for the year and a waiting list if any gaps are available. And best of all, it is exactly what he always wanted to do.
There is gold in them thar conversations. If you need help mining your social conversations, we’d be delighted to assist.
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