Social media data is one of the richest sources of information available to modern marketers, influencers, website operators and data scientists. One of the challenges, though, is finding the right way for your operation to harness that power. Let’s take a look at how social media data can boost your sales.
The Raw Data in Social Media
There are plenty of ways to deploy data analysis tools to both mine data and derive insights from it. These include looking at data points like:
- Shares and likes
- Click-thrus to URLs
- Addition and loss of followers
- Demographic groups
- Influencer networks
It’s important to not obsess about the vanity metrics, though. All the followers in the world don’t mean much if they’re not translating into sales. For example, tracking codes need to be embedded with URLs to verify that social media followers are moving into the marketing funnel. By using embedded referral codes specifically designed for your social media presence, you can keep tabs on whether followers are converting.
Finding useful sources of data is also important. There are plenty of free options, such as pulling marketing data from:
- Facebook Insights
- Google Analytics
- Twitter Analytics
- LinkedIn Analytics
Some social media companies, such as Instagram, also offer paid access to their data. In many cases, however, it’s possible to pull data using other solutions, such as web scrapers.
If your setup is properly configured, you should be able to track engagement as it moves through your marketing funnel. For example, your Twitter-specific referral code will show up in both Twitter Analytics and Google Analytics, making it easier to tie user behavior to particular campaigns.
Developing Insights from Social Media Data
The best pool of information means nothing if you can’t use data analysis tools to derive insights from it. Foremost, you need to know what goals your business is shooting for. You can make a checklist that covers things like:
- Acquiring new customers
- Developing a more widely recognized brand
- Making decisions based on social media data
- Responding better to customer concerns
- Fostering a superior customer experience
Let’s say your business wants to focus on social media as a way to quickly identify customer complaints. One great thing about social media is that folks quitting your brand might not call your customer support hotline to express their discontent, but you can bet they’ll complain to their friends online about your company’s products and services.
One way companies take advantage of this is sentiment analysis. This is a data-driven decision-making tool that focuses on gathering data regarding positive, negative and neutral statements that people make about companies online. By regularly scanning social media, these firms are able to “read the room” at a global scale. Instead of letting customer anger fester out of sight, sentiment analysis allows companies to get out in front of problems.
There is also plenty of information hiding in the networks that folks form on social media. Marketing data can be developed by creating network maps of their social associations. For example, a retailer that wants to build an influencer campaign on Instagram wants to know which users are going to spread ideas the fastest. They can then supply those Instagram influencers with:
- Early access to product details
- Marketing and brand materials
- Product demos and samples
- Immediate access to top-tier customer and technical support
- Opportunities to meet with key players
- Invitations to company-sponsored events
Driving Business Decisions
Using marketing data should not be seen as a one-way street. There’s a lot that can be learned by monitoring the social media sphere. Trend analysis, for example, can allow companies to get ahead of what people are excited about. A clothing company might focus on analyzing trends coming into each of the fashion seasons, allowing them to handle ordering issues like:
- Choosing quantities
- Conveying customer demands to overseas buyers
- Establishing transport times to put products in stores in time for trends to peak
- Re-ordering items that are expected to sell out
It’s important to develop a data-driven culture at a company in order to make the most of social media data. Stakeholders and decision-makers shouldn’t be stuck wondering what the social media budget is actually doing. By deploying dashboards, data scientists at companies can provide real-time, engaging insights to those parties. In no time at all, folks who once questioned data and social media expenditures will be checking the dashboards on their cellphones to see how campaigns are unfolding.
Building this sort of data-centric business culture requires an investment. Infrastructure has to be put in place to ensure data scientists on your team have the servers they need to pull data, clean it up, analyze it and generate insights. Done the right way, though, building out this sort of infrastructure can help you get a better grasp on how customers interact with your brands, products and services.