Social media promises a great deal to digital marketers. The ability to promote a firm’s product or service to millions of people simultaneously is invaluable, even more so when the recipients retweet, like, share and comment on it. A firm need only build the snowball and put it on top of a hill, then they can wait and watch while others push it down for them, affording them an avalanche of publicity.
However, firms are struggling to fulfil this promise. They need to know why and how people are pushing the snowball to ensure it turns into an avalanche that can destroy a village, rather than meekly petering out before it scrapes the heels of fleeing skiers. For this to happen, they need to measure the true value of engagement that consumers are having with their social media campaigns using data analytics. The insights which can be garnered from the wealth of social data are vital to targeting campaigns and making them more potent.
The amount of information produced by the cavalcade of social media platforms is not just useful in determining how best to run a digital marketing campaign though, it is also an excellent way to measure a business’s value, both real and potential. To flog the metaphor into oblivion, how many villagers has the avalanche wiped out?
According to Altimeter Group’s Social Media ROI Cookbook, 56% of marketers named the ‘inability to tie social media to business outcomes’ as the central challenge to measuring ROI from social media. This was followed by lack of analytics expertise, which was named by 39% of respondents.
Gauging customer demand prior to launch using social media can be vital to a company launching a new product, as it greatly helps minimize risk, particularly for start-ups and young companies. They can do this by using internet searches and insights from blogs and tweets to establish whether there is enough interest to produce a return, and use the information to build an effective marketing campaign.
It is not simply a question of measuring customer engagement though. It is useful too that it shows how social media sentiment correlates to an intention to purchase and converts into sales. It is not longer purely about counting the likes and follows, there are a variety of different metrics relating to a business’s customers and their behaviour that are important to take into account, such as age and location, and how a site is accessed. All of this data taken from social media needs to be correlated with an organization’s KPIs to know how they impact upon one another, and which indicators are useful and which are not.
IBM and Twitter have recently announced a partnership that should be a massive help in overcoming this challenge. The partnership will bring IBM’s big data analytics capabilities to the social media platform, on a new platform that is hosted in the cloud on IBM’s BlueMix platform. It allows firms to cross-reference data taken from social data to other data streams from their business, such as sales charts to weather data, in order to gain a full picture of how their data is working online, and what it is exactly that’s driving sales.