– 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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– by ORKASH Labs, Copyright: ORKASH Services Pvt Ltd

Given the unprecedented growth and reach of social media, monitoring what a company is doing on social media channels and what the people are talking about its products and services, has a huge potential for competetive intelligence gathering.  The forecast for such monitoring and the consequent business potential, is without doubt exciting for any corporate. The case for increased usage of social media analytics is getting more compelling, with every passing day.

To this end, Orkash has put together this blog post, which is an amalgamation of figures and case studies.  If you are interested in competetive intelligence, simply read on.

Some Trends

A study was conducted by the Center of Marketing Research at the University of Massachussets, to identify how Fortune 500 companies are using Social Media, as part of their marketing and customer service strategies.  77 percent have active Twitter accounts and 70 percent have an active Facebook presence (both up by 4% compared to the previous year, 2012). These companies are not just promoting their products & services and creating a digital marketing campaign, but have identified Social Media for customer engagement, for example, as an effective means of interacting with disgruntled customers as well.

Further, HubSpot’s 2013 survey shows that Social Media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail or PPC ( Pay Per Click, an internet advertising model).

Case Study 1 : Predicting Sales – Automobile Sector

Social Media analysis of the Indian automobile sector was undertaken. The activities of a well known international car manufacturer (Brand X) were monitored on various social media websites by usings ORKASH’s social media mining and analytics tool.  Over the course of a few days, various types of information were extracted from Facebook and Twitter pages. This included data extration on various metrics such as trends and demographics associated with the ‘Likes’ on Facebook pages of various brands, ‘mentions’ count of the car brand in social media conversations, influence networks of the top users, sentiment and comparative analysis of comments, location specific trends, etc. This was also done simultaneously for a rival car brand (Brand Y) to better understand the user sentiments related to various parameters, and the sales pattern.

sales-figure

Fig : Sales figures obtained from Open source

mentions-brand-x

Fig : Mentions on Facebook. This is an Orkash Technology output

A direct correlation between the sales figures and number of mentions was found on a month-on-month basis. However, at the time of the study (July 2013), sales figures till the month of May 2013 only were available, with the subsequent month figures awaited. The pattern of the sales could however be predicted since the social media activity, in terms of mention counts, for these months were already available. Once the sales data was released by the car manufacturer, it was found that the sales of Brand X increased in the same pattern as predicted by the Orkash tool – there existed a direct co-relation between the quantum of social media activity and sales. Such information is of tremendous value to business.

The snapshot below, obtained from the Orkash Clustering Engine technology, shows the grouping of important keywords and phrases associated with the brand, as they appear on social media platforms. For example, the specific problems, complaints and opinions on these issues, forms clusters based on the number of occurrences, showing the inter-connections. This kind of visual representation gives a comprehensive overview of the most common topics being discussed about a brand and the inter-relationship of these topics.

cluster-brand-x

Fig : A cluster identifying Brand X problem areas. Orkash Technology Output

The Orkash tool was also able to classify which of the negative comments were complaints, and further subdivide them into various categories like quality, post-sales service, customer service etc. The locations of the origin of these complaints, in terms of which dealership or workshop in which city had a recurring problem, could also be identified by the system. The information was retrieved through the contextual analysis of text and content of the comments.

Orkash technology

Fig : Orkash Technology Output

Case Study 2 : Competetive Public Engagement – London Olympics  

In the build up to the 2012 London Olympics, Adidas struck a reported £40 million three-tier sponsorship deal to be the official sponsors for the games and launched their #takethestage campaign. In a classic case of competitive garnering of mileage on social media, Nike quickly countered the Adidas campaign by creating an all new #findgreatness campaign.   Figures from Socialbaker’s CheerMeter revealed that between July 27 to August 2 there were over 16,000 tweets associating the keyword Olympic with Nike, while Adidas received 9,295 tweets in the same period. Adidas gained over 80,000 new Facebook fans during the Olympics compared to more than 166,000 for Nike. The biggest sporting event in the world was a great platform to showcase the brand and increase awareness, but, as the numbers suggest, the battle on Social media was won by Nike, even though it was Adidas that spent big bucks sponsoring the London Olympics.

Case Study 3: Response to Digital Marketing : Food and Beverages Sector

The Orkash Clustering Engine technology has emerged as a very powerful tool in identifying brand activities like promotional campaigns and events, upcoming products and accumulating user sentiments and producing clusters showing their interconnections. A representation of this sort enables the brand to quickly identify problem areas, apart from ascertaining the outcome of their marketing strategies. The screenshot below, of a popular Indian liquor brand, shows the clusters obtained from social media conversations, just after the launch of a digital campaign. Key phrases like ‘Global Beer’, ‘Just want to Drink’, ‘New Brews’, ‘High Prices’ have the largest clusters and the maximum connections. This information culled out from Social media, which happens to be the platform consumers first turn to, can be of huge value to companies producing consumer goods.

Digital Marketing

The Future of Social Media Analytics in India

With its huge ‘youth demogrpahics’ driving India towards becoming one of the biggest Social Media market in next couple of years, it is becoming increasingly essential for companies to not rely solely on traditional media for the purpose of deriving business  insights. The approach of mining information from Social Media pages and conversations and using analytics to create deep insights into the activities of the brand, the user perceptions and trends related to various parameters is increasingly becoming highly relevant.

Unlike many ‘first world’ markets, India has a huge social and cultural diversity that has a very significant impact on consumer behaviour and consumptions patterns. This makes social media analytics and intelligence collection even more relavant, but with the caveat that such analytics must take social, demographic and cultural context into consideration for meaningful trends and insights to be arrived at.

In conclusion, unlike global organizations, Orkash, being a 100% Indian company, understands the local issues and dynamics, which is supported by in-house existence of social, behavioural, political, analytical and technical subject matter experts. This enables us to develop the technology keeping the local context in mind.  Thus, social media analytics, customised to the Indian market, is what Orkash can deliver.

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