Why Social Insights Aren’t Enough

Not all social insights matter to every brand, nor can they replace talking directly with your audience. Seeing how data matches up in reality is key. So how do you determine which insights offer your brand the biggest return?

Not all social insights matter to every brand, nor can they replace talking directly with your audience. Seeing how data matches up in reality is key. So how do you determine which insights offer your brand the biggest return? Let’s explore that:

Take it to the people

Social and sentiment data is important as a starting point when creating a new marketing strategy or engaging consumers on social media. But digital ease notwithstanding, there’s still merit in going out into the field and asking your audience what they want. Assuming your brand’s vision is where industry culture is headed is often powered by what you want, not what the consumer needs.

A recent project led by design and innovation firm Altitude shows this in action–literally. It centers around helping liquor brands increase sales by reframing consumer perception of cocktails made at home.

Although hand-crafted cocktails are all the rage right now in restaurants, people don’t really make them at home. Altitude wanted to know what stops people from muddling mint in their kitchens and what they’d have to do to get people to think “beyond the bottle.”

Instead of surfacing insights on social media, which would likely not reveal what was inhibiting consumers, Altitude visited people’s homes, conducting interviews and watching them entertain and mix drinks. They learned that the experience of drinking at home wasn’t worthwhile because replicating drinks was just too complicated without the proper ingredients, tools, and recipes readily available. So drinking at a local bar or restaurant was much more appealing.

Armed with these insights, Altitude uncovered opportunities to improve the at-home, drink-making experience and an innovative new app–Stem–was born.

Social insights that do matter

The success of Altitude’s approach doesn’t mean social insights aren’t still important. Sentiment, for starters, is always relevant. But there are other social insights that cannot be ignored, although they often are. Competitive intelligence tops that list. Why? Because there’s a misconception about what competitive intelligence means.

You don’t need to keep pace with folks or do what they’re doing, but you should use their intel to power your efforts rather than re-creating the wheel–especially when that intel is readily available on social media. Do a little social listening of your competitors and their audience–which is your desired audience, too–and you can uncover two crucial things:

  1. What they’re doing that’s working well.
  2. Where there are gaps, indicated by dissatisfied customers whose problems you can solve.

Both tell you loads about what consumers want and allow you the opportunity to deliver.

And what about customer service? This is another social insight that’s often missed by businesses, or attended to with a very literal approach, i.e., “This customer needs assistance, so we’ll help them.”

That’s important, of course, but customer service can extend beyond simply putting out fires and offering guidance. Predictive analysis, by spotting trends, is next-level customer service, according to Insightly, and it offers an inroad toward customer retention: “If leads hit a certain point and drop out, you’re failing to provide what they need to make the decision to buy. To figure out what you lack, look at what customers consistently ask.”

Beyond that, look at trends like “seasonal buying patterns, related items or the desire for updates to existing products.” All of these factor into your customer service equation; because at its heart, customer service is about giving consumers what they want all the time, not just when there’s a problem.

Going deeper

Keeping consumers happy is the foundation of brand health and business growth. Doing that means going beyond basic goals of social proof–like mentions and retweets–and really delving into who people are and what your brand means to them.

At each stage, you’ve got to think further ahead than before and get creative with consumer engagement–not just on social, but wherever they are in their lives, and with regard to your products. Master that, using the tips above, and you’ll never have to worry about losing them.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

@MaryCLong maryclong@digitalmediaghost.com Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.