– by ORKASH Labs, Copyright: ORKASH Services Pvt Ltd

Social media is the new buzz word in the marketing world. It has given an unprecedented level of voice to customers and potential customers, and as a result can provide companies with deep insights regarding customer views, opinions, sentiments, behavior and buying trends. By listening to social media and mining social media, it is possible to create market, customer and competitive intelligence of unparalleled accuracy and quality.

In recent times, the prime example of harnessing the social media for competitive advantage was demonstrated by the re-election of President Barack Obama in Nov 2012. His campaign had a specialist data analytics team that helped Obama refine the process of targeting TV ads and created detailed models of swing-state voters that could be used to increase the effectiveness of each campaign tool, from phone calls and door knocks, to direct mailings and most importantly, social media. No wonder, even as the Presidential race tightened in the closing weeks, President Obama maintained a substantial lead in both Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers over Governor Romney. By the end of the campaign, Obama had 22.7 million followers and 32.2 million likes, compared to Romney’s 1.8 million followers and 12.1 million likes. In sum, the online behavioral data of American voters was co-related with their offline political identity and beliefs, using social media and data sciences, to a devastating effect. Clearly, a better harnessing of social media was one of the key differentiators, which resulted in Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney.

The Indian Context

Insofar as India is concerned, the impact of social media on the Indian political scene was examined in a previous Orkash blog post. Despite low internet penetration rates, social media is emerging as the single most powerful channel in India that is influencing a host of perceptions, from political sentiment, civil society led activism to consumer behavior. Another trend that is very visible is that internet penetration is rapidly spreading amongst the mobile phone users, a population that had grown to nearly a billion by end 2012, from just 45 million in 2002. Mobile phones based social media networks is the dominant format that is going to be prevalent in India. Key sectors in India where the data analytics of social media will impact business are the ‘Business to Consumer’ brands, for example financial and insurance instruments, consumer durables, entertainment industry, hospitality sector, electronic gadgets, retail, wellness and healthcare etc.

Social Media Intelligence “The Ultimate” Tool

Information that companies need for marketing and to meet competitive challenges is moving quickly from published and proprietary sources to the open, chaotic world of social media platforms.

Social media is rapidly changing the buying behaviour of customers. Individuals are increasingly expressing viewpoints on products, brands and services, seeking opinions online, commenting and comparing purchase options. Key influencers in such communities drive opinions and garner sentiments, in turn impacting purchase decisions. Concurrently, stray thoughts travel across the world in seconds, causing upheavals. Social media intelligence thus accords insights into the means to influence decision making.

SocialInt1
The above screenshot of ORKASH technology identifies various Facebook users who have “Liked” the Honda page and commented on Honda . This also helps identify the influencer in this user network and clicking on a user id provides user details ( name, age group, gender etc. ) . The viewpoints through the users posts and status updates can be captured and a simultaneous analysis can be done on the influence this user has by capturing follow-up comments, “likes” received and the sentiments of the follow up comments.

At the organizational level, companies need to become hunters of information rather than gatherers. At the same time, companies would also need to mitigate impacts of competitors “hunting” them in social spaces, by making their employees/ team members aware of how easy it is to inadvertently divulge valuable information. Companies can also fall easy prey to mishandling of a complaint or dissatisfaction expressed by a consumer on social media, with severe repercussions for brand reputation and goodwill.

Socia media intelligence is a mission that should extend across the length and breadth of companies, particualrly those with BtoC products and services. Social media based intelligence will sharpen strategic insights and may help pre-empt key actions of competitors or lead to adjustments of marketing strategy. Navigating this new environment effectively requires new skills and technologies that can produce analytics and useful intelligence from vast amounts of unstructured data that is being generated daily on social media sites.

How Companies are using Social Media

Brand Reputation

As a case in point, Honda Motor Company has been using social networking sites to enhance its brand reputation. It is on all the major social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, etc. Honda’s social media strategy is based around supporting business and corporate goals such as new product launches, corporate communications, public relations messages, tackling rumors, engaging with customers and communities like fans/ racing community and more. Honda is effectively using the social networking sites to keep track of conversations about the company, deliver key messages about their corporate social responsibility efforts, innovating new technologies, and also build relationships with journalists and bloggers.

Marketing and Sales

Many corporates are using social media to promote brands and products and to connect users to the company’s home pages. To a certain extent, they also use them to generate leads and even to help make sales. Most importantly, they use it to listen to what their customers are telling them about the products and their experiences with the company and its products.
Specifically, social media marketing is currently being used by organizations to:

  • Increase traffic to a website
  • Create buzz about a company or it’s product.
  • Learn what customers and fans want, their opinions, and consumer experience
  • Generate sales leads

When they begin implementing a social media marketing initiative, many companies
discover that they save money. After all, an account on Facebook or Twitter is free,
so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, when social media are added to the marketing mix,
expenditures can decline.

SocialInt2

The clustering engine of ORKASH technology demonstrated in this snapshot enables an overview of the themes under which the Brand is featuring in the media. Such an analysis enables assessment of the effectiveness of marketing campaign and for lead generation, as well as for competitive intelligence.

Addressing Consumer Dissatisfaction

An old adage : “It’s much more profitable to keep an existing customer than go looking for a new one.” This remains wise advice across the corporate world, but is often widely ignored in practice. Companies too often fail to respond to complaints in a timely manner, and risk losing the same customers they spent large sums acquiring in the first place.

Customer service professional nowadays do comprehend that poor experience no longer results in a customer telling 5 friends through word of mouth: but that they can instantly reach hundreds and thousands of people, courtesy reach of social media. Customers are taking their frustrations with products and services to sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in the knowledge that social media networks can generate more attention and faster responses than calling a customer service centre.

A response by the company on the social media itself, apart from assuaging the irate customer, also serves to project a positive image of the company to a host of social media spectators.

Conclusion

The pace of change, insofar as data and information is concerned, is accelerating beyond imagination. As a case in point, Facebook was founded in 2004 and Twitter in 2006. Yet, in less than a decade of their existence, such platforms are transforming the information exchange and social networking rules.

Companies, political parties and organisations across the globe are increasing their efforts to understand social media trends. For the era of gut instinct, to estimate personal preferences, may be all but over. Deciphering social media trends, backed by analytical tools, is the new dawn.

ORKASH technology has engineered analytical tools for all the above domains. The accompanying snapshots are representative of the social media analysis tools that ORKASH technology offers.

SocialInt3
This screenshot of ORKASH technology identifies the users that are tweeting about Honda. The font size of the users twitter handle indicates its significance. A deeper analysis of influencers can be done from the sub features of Multi Handle analysis and Top Users Pie Chart.

 

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