Social Media Analytics in Australia – A Discussion

By Ben Howden12th February 2013
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Our Strategy Director Ben Howden and Managing Director of Growth Lab Tegan Addinsall spoke to CEO Magazine about the how companies can accurately measure their social media efforts and use the data to inform their business strategies. Here's how the discussion unfolded:

The CEO Magazine: how can companies use social analytics to track their image and brand?

Tegan: Analytics offered by media monitors, free analytics services, or specific social media programs provides second-to-second data relating to your company's brand and image. Similar to traditional online tracking, this data can measure the frequency by which your brands or products are mentioned, as well as the sentiment associated with those mentions.

The social realm lends itself to being more of a conversation than a traditional knowledge transfer. This means companies now have the opportunity to cost-effectively pose questions about their brand, and better leverage the social power of brand loyalists.

Ben: Social media is a great way to understand what types of conversations are happening about your brand, and the first step is to put the right tracking tools in place. You'll need to start with a decent social media-monitoring tool that can track conversations related to your brand. Enterprise tools such as Radian6 and Sysomos provide advanced capabilities that will present you with comprehensive social media reporting and insights across your brand, products, and services.

If you're looking for a free tool, Social Mention can provide quick snapshots of social media results based on your brand. If you're not ready to look at enterprise-tracking solutions just yet, you should at least have Google Alerts set up for your brand name. Google will scan the internet for any mentions and then email the results to you.

How can companies use social analytics to improve their marketing campaigns on social media?

Tegan: Many companies enter the social sphere without a clear purpose, objectives, or resources to make it work. This approach can be hazardous and damaging for their brand.

There is ample research available on who is using what types of social media, when they use it, why they use it, and through what device they use it. This information should be matched to your campaign's target audience, and from this basis social campaigns will be best placed for success.

Ben: There are several ways brands can use social media in their marketing campaigns. The best way is to think 'social by design', as opposed to tacking on social at the end of your campaign planning. Social by design means putting social at the core of the experience and thinking about how social media can be leveraged to truly engage your audience and extend the social reach of your audience. Embed social media in your campaign planning process and you'll be rewarded with much better results.

Facebook apps allow you to create an entire campaign that sits within your Facebook page and allows you to tap into Facebook functionality to enhance your campaign, such as inviting and sharing with friends. You can also put a like-gate in front of the application, which means visitors have to like your Facebook page to access the competition or promotion. This is a great way to build up your community.

How can companies use data and insights from social analytics to further target their audience?

Tegan: Unlike traditional forms of marketing communications, social media offers marketers a unique opportunity to spark conversations with non-users. This means greater scope for investigation into market extensions and potential growth opportunities.

Marketers have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their target audience and delve further into understanding their lifestyles, wants, and needs. Recently, a client noticed that a large percentage of her Facebook fans were also fans of a complementary product. She made contact with the other product's company and together they were able to further leverage their position in the market.

Ben: It is now possible to integrate social data with CRM systems like Salesforce. This adds another unique layer of data over your customer's that can be used to make customer service and sales decisions. It is possible to open up a customer profile in your CRM and see their Twitter profile, Facebook profile, and even an influencer score. This gives you a complete picture of the customer so you know exactly what people want and expect. If you are dealing with a customer complaint and determine that the customer is a highly influential person like a journalist with over 20,000 Twitter followers, then you may consider routing the inquiry through to your best customer service representative. This is just one example of how social data can add value.

Looking at it from a paid media perspective, Facebook offers some very targeted advertising products that leverage social data. You are able to target based on location, demographics, devices, and, most importantly, interest profiles. There are not many advertising platforms that allow you to target your audience based on consumer preferences collected on a platform like Facebook. Each time a person clicks that familiar Facebook 'like' button, Facebook is building a consumer profile that advertisers can tap into to target their audience. Change your Facebook status to 'engaged' and watch the ads for wedding-related products start popping up on the right-hand side of the screen.

How can social analytics demonstrate consumers' engagement with a company's brand and its products?

Tegan: Research is showing that when a link, image, or comment is shared by a social-media user, the user is comfortable with being represented by that link, image, or comment. From this, we can easily track consumers' engagement with specific brands based on their public interactions with it.

Ben: Social analytics enables you to track sentiment over time and understand what the key drivers are. If you see a spike in negative sentiment, you can dig a little deeper and understand what is driving it. Once you have this information, you are able to put actions in place to address it.

For example, you may see a spike in negative sentiment due to longer-than- normal wait times in your call centre. Frustrated customers are turning to social media, which is resulting in increased negative sentiment. As a result of this data, you now have the option of increasing your resources in the call centre to reduce the call-wait times.

In addition, social analytics can help you understand the share of voice against your competitors, key themes driving conversations, and where these conversations are happening, such as Twitter, blogs, or Facebook.

Where do you see social analytics going in the future?

Tegan: Given the rising use of social media in the Australian market and evolving legal requirements, the importance of social-media analytics is only going to increase.

The benefits of correctly interpreted analytics already offer businesses amazing opportunities to access early developing markets and even seed their own niche areas. The potential for growth is huge, and it will be an exciting area to watch.

Ben: Social analytics will only become more advanced as companies realise the value that lies within the data and how it can be used to enhance their business. Imagine if an insurance company could scan a user's entire Facebook history and identify risk factors or risk behaviour in the data. This information could allow for more accurate pricing of insurance policies. Insurance companies are already using data from social profiles to identify fraudulent claims.

Social loyalty is another area that I think will become much bigger in the future. Instead of taking a traditional loyalty approach and rewarding customers for transactional behaviour, social loyalty involves identifying your brand advocates using social data and rewarding them for promoting your brand or products. These are the people that are stimulating positive word of mouth and are a much more powerful marketing channel than your traditional marketing channels. They deserve to be rewarded.