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How to use social data across your business

Brands and businesses using social data to inform their social media strategy

However, in more instances than ever before, social data is also being used in other areas of the business, and social media has evolved from just being a vehicle for marketing. ‘Social business’ and ‘social across the enterprise’ are now commonplace phrases in modern business terminology. 

Why become a social business?

Social media is changing the way people connect, and is changing the relationship between consumers and brands. Becoming a social business means looking beyond social media to understand how it can benefit your business and change the way you operate. IBM’s statement on their website couldn’t have put it better:

'When you inspire your workforce to innovate and collaborate more productively, you create tangible business value. When you anticipate needs and deliver exceptional experiences, you delight your customers and create advocates. When you integrate your business processes with the right social tools, you secure a competitive advantage and pioneer new ways of doing business.'

There are plenty of articles around on the web about the importance of being a social business. Altimeter’s report 'The evolution of social business' is a pretty comprehensive overview of the importance of becoming a social business and the steps to take to get there.

They say there are six steps of maturity for social businesses, which starts at listening and planning and ends with converged, where social is part of the business’s make up and drives transformation.

Using social data across the enterprise

Part of the process of becoming a social business is to understand social media, and the opportunities social data (collected through social media monitoring platforms) presents for all parts of your business.

We find that our clients are continuously finding new and innovative ways to use social data throughout their business. It’s incredibly exciting to hear about the ways they are using social data, sometimes in ways that we ourselves hadn’t thought of or expected. These businesses are not only using social data for the classic use cases for marketing, online customer service or market research but also for a much wider range of uses, from very in-depth security and risk management to fine-tuned product development.

Dell is a fantastic example of a business that has used social to develop from ‘Dell Hell’ several years ago to now being a leader in social media usage.

We ourselves use social data across our own business, as you would hope. We use it to:

  • compare how we stand in the market in comparison to competitors, to find and respond to comments about ourselves online, to understand the changes in our market and in shifts in thinking in the industry.
  • to develop our product and respond to the needs of our target audience, by understanding what they want, where our competitors are lacking, and staying on track of what features our competitors are offering, as well as the coverage they’re getting.
  • We even use it to find possible sales leads and opportunities where we can share our knowledge and expertise.

We believe in data-driven decisions, and social media monitoring means real-time data that allows decisions to be made quickly. That’s why we recently launched a product that allows brands to display social media across their business, in the form of a next generation social media ‘command centre’.

So how can you implement the use of social data across your business?

  • 1. Identify which teams could benefit from social data

It’s not always easy to see how social data can benefit particular departments, but truth is, it can benefit most use cases. Consider what the needs of each of your departments are. What do they want/need to know? What kind of data do they currently use, if any? Where are the gaps?

  • 2. Establish what areas of insight they need

Draw up a list of the requirements for each of your departments and then assess how social data can have a positive impact on them. There’s no one-size-fits-all, as every business is different, but doing this should help you develop a strategy for your social data.

Consider the kind of insights typically found through social data analysis (take a look at sample reports, case studies etc to get more of an idea of the possibilities) and match those with your needs.

  • 3. Decide what to track, and how, based on the above

For specific teams, a simple brand search might not be enough. You’ll want to track specific areas and topics of conversation about the brand for different teams, either through the use of different Queries or through the use of categorisation.

For example, you can single out customer service conversation specifically by including words typically related to complaints in your search string. You can do the same for each topic of chat you’re tracking (there are some examples of similar search strings from our social media monitoring cheatsheet.) Also bear in mind other, non-social data, that you might want to combine – this could be data you’re already tracking, or that you plan to.

  • 4. Have a strategy for data analysis

It’s not enough to just be tracking the data as you’ll need a plan for analysing it too. Do you want to do a monthly report? Track everything in real-time? A daily or weekly dashboard check in? Chances are, this will vary according to the department. Sales teams, for example, will want to see sales opportunities in real time.

Also consider how you’re going to break it down. You should have already decided on the areas of insights you want to look into, so consider how you are going to analyse the data to find those answers. But also be open to finding other insights that you hadn’t planned to find – social data can often reveal more than you first imagined.

  • 5. Build custom dashboards/visualisations to share the information

Setting up your social media monitoring platform and dashboards to suit your different needs can be a complex process, but the results are well worth the time. We have some clients who spend months doing their setups – different Queries (searches), different languages, multiple dashboards but the insights and data they get out at the end are incredibly valuable to their business.

Don’t just set them up once and leave them forever. Review your dashboards and data regularly and ensure they are still giving you maximum value.

By Expert commentator

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