Many organizations still ask themselves the same question: should I be active on social media? Facebook and Twitter certainly think so, with strategies announced by both companies aimed at B2B offerings. Yet looking beyond the obvious marketing, advertising and brand management benefits, what can a company hope to gain from social networks?
Too often an organization’s vision of social media is narrowed to their own direct account activity, yet most social interaction reaches much further. Where is an unhappy customer most likely to voice discontent? Will he or she take the time to write you a personal message to your account, or just save the time and blast the news feed with some choice words?
Capturing this information opens up new opportunities that herald great value for an organization – if we can detect not only what our customers are saying, but also those of our competition (and thus lending our social media ear to the entire marketplace, not just our own ecosystem), we could therefore better anticipate trends and expectations, react to them quicker, and thus make social networks far more than just a medium for communication. Indeed, social networks become a tool for gaining market share.
To illustrate this point, we conducted a little experiment using Twitter interactions for a well-known French mobile network provider. A simple query using a free online Twitter API returned the following results (in French).
(c) Topsy 2014
The first page alone returns the following:
· 1 press release
· 4 customer complaints
· 2 sales opportunities
Also, it might be useful to point out that none of these interactions was directly linked to any of the network’s social media accounts…
Those still believing that social networks are only the concern of B2C companies are profoundly wrong. B2B companies are already extremely active, and B2B2C companies will be able to leverage social media to keep contact or re-engage with customers and their market.
In analyzing the mass of information that is transmitted in social networks, we open ourselves to a real opportunity for enhancing our performance as an organization. And when combined with storage, archiving, managing interaction content from different networks simultaneously and incorporating these into the Information System, an organization can easily deploy powerful solutions for trend detection, market analysis, communication and innovation:
· Brand popularity vs competition; how does this evolve through time, based on marketing campaigns, etc.?
· Impact of a communication campaign
· Ideas or concepts linked to brand strategy
· How do consumers interact with my brand(s)? How do we get them to the “buy” stage?
· Where is my brand most visible and who is talking about it?
· Features of a product or service, popularity
· Competition’s positioning (key messages, innovations, etc.)
· Market activity: who is close to me or closing in, on whom?
· How much has been invested in my market? By whom? Which area?
· And so on
Most departments within an organization can thus find value in social data. There are the usual suspects, sales, marketing and communications of course, but also strategy, finance, innovation, HR or event after-sales.
The wealth of information social media provides is virtually limitless and it is not surprising to see that more and more organizations are reaching the same conclusions. And for those who are looking to hop on the Big Data train within their organization, without knowing which carriage to aim for, should look no further for a better starting point than analyzing social networks.