microphone with crowd in the background
PHOTO: Kane Reinholdtsen

As the influence of social media continues to proliferate, so does the volume of online consumer insights available to companies.

The ability to successfully filter, capture and analyze actionable data is extremely lucrative for data-driven organizations. According to a 2017 McKinsey study, organizations that leverage consumer behaviorial insights outperform their competitors by 85 percent in terms of sales growth and by more than 25 percent in total profits.

Social data’s potential is clear, but organizations often find themselves struggling to turn this massive amount of data into consumer insights that can successfully inform business decisions. Companies need clearly outlined objectives and effective teams to carry out their insight projects. The challenge facing data-driven companies is, simply put, to bring value to their data.

Not All Data Is Relevant

Among the many issues facing data-driven organizations is the oversaturation of online conversation spaces. According to Hootsuite and We Are Social’s August 2017 Global Digital Snapshot, the number of active social media users has surpassed 3 billion. This means that roughly 40 percent of the world’s total population actively uses social media in their daily lives. In a digital environment in which the volume of noise is staggeringly large, it falls on business strategists to determine where to focus their attention.

Meanwhile, an increasingly large number of consumers are using social media platforms to offer feedback on products and services. According to referral marketing platform provider Ambassador Software, 33 percent of consumers would prefer to contact companies through social media than over the phone. While social media platforms like Twitter are rich sources of customer feedback, the amount of noise is problematic, because it can make it difficult to find useful information. This Cumulus Media infographic illustrates that 452,000 tweets were posted every minute in 2017. For this reason, data filtration and organization are key; segmenting data according to the objectives of a project is integral to its success.

To ensure the relevance of an insight-oriented strategy, companies should take three steps. First, they must define the end-of-project objectives that they wish to accomplish with the data. Second, they should ensure that their data collection strategies are executed in a manner that makes key insights about their target customer accessible to any stakeholder: their pain points, brand expectations, tastes, and what they value in a product or service. Third, they need to understand that having data isn’t everything. It’s not enough to simply have access to social intelligence, because not all data is applicable to every customer. While a wealth of consumer profiling data does not come without its merits, it’s an organized team, well-implemented technology and the capacity to put consumer insights at the heart of a social listening strategy that will ensure that data’s value.

As the saying goes, not everything that can be counted counts. In short, not all data is relevant. When developing a data-driven strategy, companies must clearly define their goals to ensure that the data collection process is as concise and as efficient as possible.

Build the Right Team

Once an organization has collected data relevant to its objectives, the challenge is then to build a team that can successfully analyze that data and implement it in strategies. Analytics, marketing, customer success, sales — all of these teams are responsible for creating customer-centric strategies and pivoting their client-facing experiences to fit the company’s larger objectives.

Capturing social data isn’t the challenge — it’s simple with the right tools. And collecting data is just the first step of the process. Once you collect the data, you must be sure that your company’s teams know what to do with it. A customer-oriented company must earn the trust of consumers by demonstrating industry expertise and a willingness to prioritize the concerns of consumers. 

Ambassador Software’s research indicates that 71 percent of customers expect to receive assistance within five minutes of reaching out to a company. Organizations should employ a diverse support team of project management experts, on-board trainers, insights specialists, data analysts and technical support experts who can quickly and competently resolve customer queries. This customer feedback can also be employed in other areas of the business, including product development and marketing.

The customer relationship doesn’t end once a sale has been closed. Multidimensional postpurchase relations are very important in creating customer loyalty and potential expansion opportunities. In research done by Dimensional Research and ZenDesk, 52 percent of survey participants said that they had purchased additional products or services from a company following a positive customer service experience. A team dedicated to meeting consumers at each stage of the consumer journey is one of the best assets a brand can invent for itself. The voice of your customer should always come first in determining which data is important. Following data collection, organizations must be prepared to organize their data in an intelligent manner that fits customer needs.

Customer Experiences Evolve in Real Time

Listening to the voice of the customer comes down to meeting customers where they exist, both digitally and offline. Turning social intelligence data into actionable customer insights is an ongoing process because customer experience changes in real time. While end-of-project objectives should inform the data collection and filtration process, customer feedback must inform strategies as they develop. When properly integrated, organizations can incorporate customer feedback into how they understand the customer journey and thereby create and improve customer feedback loops.

Analyzing consumer behavior before, during and after the purchase enables brands to experience their products from the eyes of consumers. Brands must evolve to fulfill the needs of their customers, meaning that dynamic internal communication is a necessity for any successful customer-oriented strategy.

Social intelligence is an invaluable strategic tool for any data-driven organization — you just need to understand how to use it. With a customer-oriented team, an effective strategy and well-integrated technologies, data-driven companies can ensure that their social data collection is as relevant and productive as possible.