Welcome to #TheSocialInfluencer

Six Social Champions from across Europe will share their tips, tricks and expertise, battling to be crowned #TheSocialInfluencer.
Discover our team's insights on the blog and engage with our content.


the social influencer

Want to understand your customers?

Listening is the first and most important aspect of “social business”

Any relationship expert will tell you that listening is more important than talking when trying to build rapport. So although social media and electronic communications involve a degree of disconnect, you still have to listen to your market before saying anything. When you develop a social media listening strategy with clearly defined goals, you will immediately be better placed to understand:

  • Your customer base, even down to an individual level.
  • Brand sentiment – what people really think of your business, products and services, and what they are saying behind your back.
  • Your brand advocates – what do passionate supporters of your products and services say about you?
  • The best ways to engage with your market using social channels.
  • What people are talking about and how you can use that information to create new sales opportunities

The most successful social media marketing campaigns always involve a degree of listening before attempting to establish a conversation. So when used correctly, social media listening tools can be used to create the largest, free focus group imaginable, with a global reach; a logical (and practical) extension of your big data strategy.

85% of businesses use social media for business exposure, but only 65% for marketplace insights.

5 Social Media Metrics That Won't Slow You Down – Social Media Today

This animated infographic, Get started with Social Relationship Management, is really useful if you’re new to this area.

What are you Actually Listening out for?

Social channels provide an almost unlimited store of freely-available information for you to analyse and exploit. With so much data and so many ways to split it, you need to focus on why you are listening:

  • Business Intelligence purposes?
  • Generating sales leads?
  • Engaging customers and answering their questions?
  • Tracking brand mentions?
  • Measuring ‘sentiment’ - and measuring sentiment for your competitors?
  • Looking for trends in your sector, by analysing what your customers are talking about?
  • Looking for risks and opportunities?
  • Measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns?

You need to know the why, so that you can figure out the how. Without some proper goals in place, data mining is unlikely to yield any insights that your business can act on, let alone create new revenue opportunities.

And although there are several useful tools available to help sift and organize social data, many businesses lack the skilled employees capable of performing the data analysis you need. Ultimately, social media listening tools are only as useful as the people operating them.

A third of the UK’s larger organizations (employing 100 or more staff) – around 6,400 – will implement big data analytics programs in the next five years, pushing the demand for big data specialists up by 243% to 69,000.

eSkills UK Big Data Analytics survey

To listen effectively, your business needs experienced data analysts.

What Should you be Listening to?

The simple answer is your customers, your prospects and even your competitors. Keep an ear out for competitor trends, keywords, SEO and newsjacking opportunities.

This means identifying which social networks and other sites your market uses and what they are saying. You almost certainly maintain a presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and YouTube already, but what about the many other platforms out there? News sites, forums and private groups are all worth investigating.

Just because your business doesn’t maintain a social property in these other places doesn’t mean that your customers are also avoiding them – you are choosing to leave money on the table if you’re not there with them.

Facebook (74%), Google+ (54%), Twitter (53%) and YouTube (53%) are the top public, external, customer-facing platforms in use.

The Socially Enabled Enterprise, research conducted across the EMEA region

What Should you do with your Insights?

Monitoring sentiment on social networks is one thing, but you also need to apply that knowledge for the benefit of your business and your customers. By combining social tools and expert employees you can use those insights to create automated marketing campaigns that are fine-tuned to your customers’ interests and needs.

Tools and human skills need to be blended carefully to avoid potential language problems that prevent successful automation of social responses. No matter how good algorithms are at detecting language and sentiment, you still need people to ensure your social strategy remains “human”.

Tapping into foreign language markets also presents a significant challenge when using social media listening tools. If your team lacks the native languages of your markets, you are at the mercy of the analysis provided by your social tools.

The data you gather through social media listening has the potential to create awesome, effective automated campaigns that connect with customers where they are and instantly address their needs. Assuming your listening and analysis has successfully uncovered usable insights.

Expanding Social Insights

The results of your social media listening need to be shared far beyond the sales and marketing teams. The truly “socially enabled business” directs customer sentiment insights towards other business units so that they too can create new value.

  • Complaints can be forwarded to the service department for follow-up.
  • Negative sentiment can be passed to account managers for corrective action.
  • Supply chain managers can adjust product flow based on purchasing intent sentiment.
  • Trends and sentiment data can be used by product development to create new services.
  • Marketing can identify and act upon competitor sentiment to gain a competitive advantage.

Wherever a customer is discussing your brand or products, you can apply that knowledge somewhere within your organization. By involving every business unit in social media listening and engagement, you will find it much easier to present a consistent brand across every channel. You will also find it easier and more productive to collaborate with different departments.

The IT department in particular should support the move to becoming a socially enabled enterprise, as software plays such a crucial role in social media engagement. A recent Oracle research paper, Socially Driven Collaboration, (gated content) surveyed Marketing and IT executives in the EMEA region. It found that 22% of IT professionals state that they rarely or never collaborate with Marketing on projects and initiatives. Some 18% of Marketing professionals say this of their IT colleagues.

Putting it all Together

To become a successful socially enabled business, your organization needs to:

  • Listen first – what are your customers saying without your involvement.
  • Employ specialist data analysts – the data nerds will turn raw social data into valuable business and customer insights.
  • Be present where your market is – your customers will be active across a number of platforms, so for greater insight, you also need to be on each.
  • Choose your social tools carefully – successfully automated social media marketing requires specialist tools to sift the gold from the dirt.
  • Share insights globally – every business unit will benefit from your social insights, but only if they are passed on.

Click here to take part in the Social Influencer survey to see how your organization compares to the competition.

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