A few weeks ago I was invited to speak on Social Data Week’s panel “Passion, Disruption and Connection: Building Brands in a Social World” (see the video of the panel discussion below). One of the key themes I was expounding that chimed well with the audience was the importance of context over content.
Going beyond just the “what”
The first generation of social media monitoring platforms such as Radian6 concentrate mainly on just what is being said across the social web. But the second generation of tools, our own Pulsar being a leader among them, are offering more intelligent solutions.
Pulsar focuses not only on the content of what is being said but by indexing and analysing everything around that content. When a message comes into the dataset, Pulsar enriches it in real-time with 30 types of metadata, ranging from demographics and behaviours to location, semantic tagging and link analysis. This means we’re able to see the context, behaviour and demographics related to a message, as well as the author’s social and interest graphs. So It’s only by building the context of a conversation that a fuller picture becomes available.
Understanding your audiences in real time: Social Panels
It is this ability to provide greater context to huge datasets that has allowed us to mine social data by audience. So rather than just look at the conversations people are having about a particular brand, product or service through keywords, we can understand all the conversations an individual or group of individuals are having about any and every topic they mention. And we can target this, identifying discrete groups of people such as brand followers, bloggers, mums, or tech experts (the list is endless) to understand all of their passions and interests in real time through social panels. We believe that this is where brands need to start if they are to deliver against one of Social Data Week’s most popular soundbites, “Brands don’t have target markets: they have target moments”.
In order to build more engaging, relevant and personalized content and communications strategies, brands need to understand their audiences in real time, all of the time.
A good example is what one of our major retail clients was able to achieve in the lead up to Christmas 2012. The Marketing Director explained “Those final seven days make for an anxious week for customers as there are many “aha” moments when you realize that you forgot to buy some of those critical individual items. From the insight garnered from social data we were able to feed into our advertising in real time with what customers had been saying they had forgotten”. As a result they were able to check that they were stocking their stores with the right items.
Integrating social data with other data sets
This retailer along with other clients are recognizing the ability of social data in helping them to achieve the powerful combination of being able to augment what customers are feeling with what customers are doing or actually buying. Rewarding customers through loyalty-based schemes on what they have bought is commonplace – but linking that to what customers would like to buy or be rewarded for based on an understanding of their interests, passions, hopes and desires is another new dimension.
As our CIO Francesco D’Orazio says, companies are realizing the huge potential of connecting social data with their other datasets such as sales, NPS, stock trading and media exposure. This is something we’re excited to be developing with clients already – watch this space.
Building social brands is about building a social business
All of this helps to remind us of the fundamental driver of all things social: it’s about people. And what they do and say to each other is more important than what brands and companies do and say to them.
From our social media audience studies we know that people spend far less than 1% of their time talking about a particular brand, product or service. Instead they spend all the rest of the time talking to friends and talking about their passions and interests.
This is important to remember when reading the interesting study from Ogilvy Social that was being discussed by one of the other panelists Irfan Kamal. It also reminds us of the transformational scale of social data and the impact it is having on existing business models. It is forcing companies to put the customer at the heart of their entire organization in real time.
As one of our major global clients said recently, “The social web is fundamentally changing customer expectations, customer experiences, how they talk to you; the value they create for you beyond just buying something (social capital vs economic capital); and the relationships they have with you and their fellow customers”.
So this means companies need to understand social data is not just about brand marketing. It is much greater than this. Ultimately to build social brands companies need to build social businesses and social ecosystems.
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