How To Make The Most Of Your Social Media Data

So you monitor your company’s social media accounts religiously.  However, are you sure you’re paying attention to the most important information?  Do you see your data analysis mission as a qualitative or a quantitative one?  Do you engage with your customers and page fans?  How do you measure and illustrate the data that you observe?  Do you adjust your company’s social media presence, depending on the response?

Social Listening

These are all questions that don’t necessarily have one right answer.  Social media data is a relatively new concept, after all.  Social listening, according to Villanova University, is “perhaps one of the most transformative tools in combing social media for quantifiable data and actionable insights throughout the entire product and customer lifestyle.”  Some of the details to notice will ideally reap future benefits, including noticing discussion and reactions related to product development, competitor insight, purchase signals, and customer sentiment.  Of course, it can’t hurt to utilize a tool like Hootsuite in order to quickly see data about which posts garner the most response, for example, or what times of the day are best for posting videos.

Engagement with Customers

Note, however, that despite all this talk of ‘data,’ the insights gleaned by social media are more accurately defined as qualitative, rather than quantitative, simply because human response and opinions are more complex than numbers and figures.  What’s also complex is the question of how to know which pieces of data to include in any analysis of your company’s social media presence.  There are a number of social media sources from which to pull, including Tweets, posts, favorites, keywords utilized in searches for information, hashtag tracking, long-form publishing platforms like blogs, and multimedia platforms like SlideShare, YouTube, and Flickr.

Part of the complexity involved in social media analysis is the need to engage with customers and competitors online—rather than simply sit back and analyze information. This engagement will inevitably teach you more about what you’re doing right and what you could stand to adjust, somehow—and there are bound to be a few ways to improve, so prepare yourself!   Your willingness to engage will also help to grow your customer base, so don’t be afraid to venture out into the virtual community—even if it’s just virtually.  Your customers will appreciate your willingness to respond to their feedback or comments.

Work With Competitors

Moreover, consider connecting with some of your local competitors online.  You could even initiate some sort of exchange partner that affords your customers a discount when you shop at your partner’s store and vice versa.  Note only does this encourage more business at each venue, but this kind of networking makes for great trust building and future business partnership possibilities.  Not only does this strengthen your relations within the community, but it also expands each other’s customer base in a natural way.  Your cooperative and friendly attitude is also likely to be looked upon favorably by potential customers.

Consider identifying other owners, online—try finding competitors using keyword searches—and network with them!  Ask them what they think of your business page on Facebook or Twitter, for example.  Take a look, also, at their individual business pages.  You may find yourself inspired by one of their photos or posts.  If so, feel free to engage via Messenger or LinkedIn.  Try to view all of your online interactions as a learning opportunity.

Customer Loyalty Programs

But how do we ensure customer engagement with our social networking pages and posts?  Try connecting loyalty programs with social media, perhaps—as Dream Grow suggests—making social media feedback a part of the loyalty program.  By doing so, you’ll not only get more customer attention and hopefully business, but you’ll also be left with more valuable feedback and information with which to market more effectively in the future.

Think Like an Anthropologist

In order for our social media listening to become more holistic and focused on managing meaning, so to speak, Harvard Business Review argues we should stop delegating social media analysis to marketing department reports.  Rather, chief executives should be doing the work of assessing, responding to, and making use of social media insights.  In other words, we should think like anthropologists, rather than like robots.  Only then will we be able to enact real and lasting change informed by genuine interaction with actual customers.

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Do you have any insights about which elements are important, when studying your social media interactions?  Share your experience in the comments section, below!


Daphne Stanford
Daphne Stanford
DAPHNE grew up near the ocean, and she loves taking pictures of the mountains and rivers in Idaho, where she now lives. She believes in the power of writing, education, and community radio to change the world. She hosts “The Poetry Show!” Sundays on Radio Boise.

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