Social media can be a fantastic business intelligence platform to get insight on customer preferences, competitors and identifying potential advocates, influencers and communities.
Listening is the first step you need to take to acquire data needed for analysis. There are numerous channels of information online. A simple way to start is by searching for information using any of the popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. There are specialized search engines and tools however, I’d recommend examining them once you gain a basic proficiency in listening online.
Sources of Information
Among textual sources, News sites could be your first source of Information about your products or services. Blogs are another popular source, where people often review products and give their opinions. A whole lot of sites enable conversations among people, specially social media sites like like Facebook or Twitter, these could be great places to listen. Another information type is audio. Quite a few people also broadcast audio in the form of personal podcasts or online radio streams. More and more content is now in the video format, which is present on popular sites like YouTube, Vimeo etc. Additionally you might find online and offline communities focussed around topics which you’re interested in. Members discuss topics of interest on the community forums & across independent forums. These can be invaluable sources of information as well.
Categorizing Social Media Conversations
Categories: Advertising, Promotion, Product feedback and Competitor Analysis
For e.g. You could categorize information according to maybe feedback you’ve received on your latest advertising campaign. Or it could be feedback about your latest product offering. Or maybe it’s comments about the features of your latest product released, additionally it could be about how people perceive your product versus the competition. You could again a great deal of information about what specific functionalities or services of your competitiors are preferred by your potential customers.
Categories: Customer Service and User Experience
Another kind of data set could be regarding requests for customer service or how good or bad it is. You could possibly also get information about the pricing of your products. Overall It could also be about the UX with your products or services or the organization as a whole.
Identify potential Community and Social Advocates and Influencers
You could also categorize the people out there, maybe you have people who speak positively about your products & services, these could be potential advocates. Additionally you might discover that some people have a whole lot of engaged followers and these could be your potential influencers.
This exercise of categorizing information will itself reveal an amazing number of insights about people, their opinions and competitive data.
Finally, Business Intelligence from Social media data.
You’ll gain real business intelligence once you begin to analyse all the data, which you’ve collated across the various social media and community channels. Asking questions is a good way to begin any analysis. For e.g. who is out there, discussing what, and where and how many conversations are happening.
Measuring the volume of conversations across social channels
You could start with charting out the conversation volume across channels, you might get to know which channels to focus on or maybe there are some channels where your customers are and some channels where they are not there at all. Once you’ve collated or rather mapped out this data. You’d need to create a baseline for this information so that you can monitor how it changes over a period of time depending on activities which you do as an organization. (In this specific case you need to capture a snapshot in terms of the volume of conversations across different channels at a specific time period.)
Measuring Product Specific Feedback and Sentiment
Additionally you can chart out information such as lets say for instance a,b and c represent your product features, what do people think about these features, what are their viewpoints what is the overall sentiment? Are they positive and raving about these features or are they negative and critical about a particular feature? Maybe there’s one particular feature, where they’ve just got awesome positive things to talk about, and some features about which, they are totally negative.
Gaining Competitive Information from social channels
Mapping Sales Volume across conversations in Social Media
An interesting exercise would be to map additional data on these charts for e.g. across the chart where you’ve recording the volume of conversations, you could map product sales information. Keeping track of this over a period of time might reveal interesting correlations between conversation volume across certain channels and increased sales of your products or services. Mapping additional data on this could be pretty useful, as the example out here which is regarding sales.
Following these steps which I’ve outlined can help you gain a whole lot of business intelligence and insight, via social media and community channels out there.
Remember there are three steps to this, listen, categorize and then analyze to gain business intelligence. You can also view a video recording of this post below or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWd69HnpK3w
Would love to understand how you use, social media to enhance your business. I’ll follow up this blog post with a post on integrating the business intelligence you’ve gained via social media into your business.