By Sethuraman Janardhanan

Social media has opened a Pandoras box of opportunities for marketers to understand their customers. Customers are extremely vocal on these forums and feel free to interact with the brand as well, as it is an environment which they have full control over. The social influence of these discussions are so deep, that they can make or break a brand within a matter of hours. Hence, it is imperative for brands to keep a constant check on the sentiments of these discussion and drive positive influence and negate the negative influence. 5 key aspects that brands need to think about to get the best out of social media analytics are as below:

  1. Understand the What: Sentiment Analysis is a thing of the past. Brands now want to understand the key aspects of their product that is being talked about. This has been made possible by advancements in natural language processing algorithms. Social media is the new feedback forum where brands can test market their ideas and products or get an early feedback to make a change before the product completely breaks down. This analysis is only made possible if the right tools and techniques are applied. A clear example of this was seen in the case of Barclays. Barclays launched a mobile banking application called PingIt. In the days following the launch, Barclays made significant changes to the app as a result of real-time social media analysis. Many users were unhappy that the app didn’t work for under 18’s. It wasn’t only teenagers that were unhappy, but also parents that couldn’t transfer money to them. This could easily create a PR disaster, but the data allowed Barclays to act quickly. Within the week 16 and 17 year-olds were given access to the app, showing that Barclays were responsive to customer feedback.

Personalized Recommendation now, need not be restricted to the limited data available with the company. Using social data, one can enrich the customer profile which can help in building recommendations strategies which have higher incremental lift.

  1. Understand the Who: Social Analytics does not end at passive listening. It is imperative that brands identify the right influencers and make sure that they influence them in order to make a lasting impression for their brand. Network analysis allows brands to understand the key influencers in their category. Social Network charts, influencer scores like Klout Scores can now be studied to determine the right ambassadors.
  2. Social Customer 360: The true benefit of social media analytics can be done garnered through an integrated analysis of the customer across multiple social media forums. This way the brands can really determine the true worth of customer feedback and provide an “Omni-Channel Social Experience”. It will really act as a customer “WoW” if he can be recognized and responded across forums. This can get even more interesting if the customers can be rewarded for their social loyalty.
  3. Redefining the Social Metrics: The most important aspect in deriving the maximum out of social media analytics is to look at it from a fresh lens. Take the example of demographic segmentation or clustering which will seldom work in the social environment due to lack of information. This can however, be relooked as response clustering whereby the segmentation is based on the type and number of responses clubbed with the influence score of the customer. Further, intelligence may be added based on preference study which can then be converted into powerful targeted campaigns. By building models with new social metrics arrived from social media, one can easily expect an increase in response rate by 2-5% which translates into higher lift and RoI on campaigns. This is just one example. If taken seriously this can really change the way analytics is perceived for social media.
  4. Gamifying the Social Customer: Gamification based on Transaction patterns has always been done. Imagine a situation where customers are gamified based on their social interactions with the brand as well. This is a clear path for brands to bridge the gap between the virtual and the real worlds. Most importantly this need not even be pushed by brands as it would automatically be endorsed by customers. Social Gamification can go a long way in making the customers social advocates for the brand.

Social media can give a bang for its buck if utilized smartly. The right social strategy is not a good to have anymore but a “MUST HAVE” if brands and companies want to survive.

Sethuraman Janardhanan manages retail, travel and online analytics at Happiest Minds. Sethu’s primary areas of expertise include marketing, risk & web analytics like finance, retail, travel and technology. Sethu holds a PHD in systems & finance from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and is regular guest speaker on analytics and strategy. Follow at @happiestminds.