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9 Ways to Discover Consumer Insights From Social Media Data


Jason Falls, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy at Elasticity is a high-energy speaker.

That energy was just what the post-lunch crowd needed to settle in and get focused on how to discover consumer insights from social media data.

The Difference Between Monitoring and Listening

Jason opened his talk, Hacking the Conversation: Discovering Consumer Insights From Social Media Data with a question. What is the most recent marketing decision you made, and what piece of data led to it?

If you’re not able to answer the last portion of that question easily, you’re not alone — but you might be what Jason calls a “guesswork marketer.”

Avoid Overconfidence

He warned against getting too confident in your assumptions, because guesswork marketers “eventually get fired.”To avoid that fate, marketers must arm themselves with data — and that’s about way more than just counting up brand mentions online.

Social media monitoring, Jason explained, is a “reactive activity” because your company just sits around waiting for an online event to pop up. Once it does, you can send in the customer service troops to smooth things over, but the issue has already happened.

Social media listening, on the other hand, is proactive. You can go after people talking about any subject you want, including the problems that your business can solve for them.

This more open-minded, creative approach to social media research has big implications for transforming your business’s product, customer experience and messaging — if you open your ears.

Transform Your Product

Jason went on to provide a slew of instructive examples about how careful social media listening can lead to big successes for marketers.

When Kettle Chips recently launched several new flavors, they noticed a huge uptick in negative remarks about their Maple Bacon chips.

They were understandably nervous, but a closer look at the data revealed that the boom in exposure correlated to better sales — regardless of how people felt about the new flavor.

If they had guessed instead of listening, they might have yanked a successful product off the shelves prematurely instead of continuing to experiment with new flavors.

Transform Your Customer Experience

Jason also shared a story about his time as VP at Cafe Press, a company that allows users to custom print a wide range of products, from t-shirts to mouse pads.

Complaint about a design using what Jason referred to as “the M-word” inspired him to reach out to Little People to learn more about the term they considered hate speech.

The result? A quick addition to the legal department’s hate speech catalog made Cafe Press a more welcoming place for all its customers.

Transform Your Messaging

Social media listening can also help marketers better reach their customers through accurate targeting.

In one example gleaned from working with a frozen food company, marketers used a “passion” chart from Netbase to gain insight on what people across the internet where saying about a pretty mundane subject: dinner.

What they noticed surprised them: For about three weeks in August and September, enthusiasm about dinner took a nosedive.

When they realize that dip was all about the upheaval families feel in their schedules when school starts up each year. They then knew to target frozen dinners to beleaguered parents at just the right moment to improve sales.

The Conversation Hacking Toolbox

The final portion of Jason’s talk was aimed at helping marketers get started gathering social media data and using it to guide their thinking. He had several specific recommendations to get the ball rolling.

Data Services to Help You Get Started

As with all things, Jason cautions that “you get what you pay for” when it comes to social listening services and the data they provide.

In general, be prepared to do more work on your own to put data into context when using a less expensive service. Some recommendations for getting started with this type of data:

  • Social Mention
  • Viralheat
  • Klear
  • Hubspot
  • Infegy
  • Netbase

The Conversation Hacking Roadmap

To avoid diving into the world of social media data haphazardly, Jason recommended specific steps to follow to make sense of it all:

  1. Ask questions about your goals. What do you want to know — and why?
  2. Collect data using the tools listed above.
  3. Disambiguate your findings. Be sure to filter your own marketing out the conversation, for starters.
  4. Explore your “clean set of data” to look for themes.
  5. Develop insights about your customers based on what you hear, not what you assume.

How to Ask Questions of Your Data

Once you’ve begun to gather social media data about the conversations going on in the world around you, how do you make it meaningful?

Jason suggests building your thinking around a “framework of curiosity” to help guide your questioning:

  1. Form: What does your data look like?
  2. Function: How does it work?
  3. Change: How does it evolve?
  4. Perspective: How is it impacted?
  5. Cause: Why is it like this?
  6. Reflection: How do I know?
  7. Recommendation: What now?

And when you can answer that last question with the power of your data, you’ll be ready for anything.

Elizabeth T is one of the many expert writers here at WriterAccess that can assist you in transforming your messaging and create content based on your gathered insights.

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By WriterAccess

Freelancer Elizabeth T

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