Social Business Intelligence: Key to Integrated Marketing

social business intelligenceSocial business intelligence should play a large role in driving your integrated marketing strategy and your social business efforts. Still not sure what social intelligence is? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Classic business intelligence delivers—and allows you to analyze–data from the inside out. Conversely, social business intelligence delivers real-time data that you can leverage for an outside-in view. It tells you what people think and say, when they are thinking and saying it.

In a world fueled by technology that just keeps moving faster, gathering data and understanding how to rank things like Buzz, Sentiment and Passion, well, that’s pretty important. Not to mention an integral part of fine-tuning your sales funnel.

Knowing your customers (and your prospective customers), where they live, who they are, who is visiting your website, what they’re looking at, and how your messaging is targeting them—that’s marketing today. At least, it’s what smart marketers are focused on.

Why do these things matter? Men and women want different things (newsflash). We talk about things differently, we care about different things, ergo different messaging resonates with us in different ways. And whether you’re a brand manager, a CMO or a small business owner, you need to understand this – and use social intelligence gathering tactics to deliver what your customers and prospects want, when they want it.

Women Gush, Men Talk

According to NetBase’s Brand Passion Index, a study of most talked about products, women gush (72%) and men talk (68%). This isn’t something you don’t already know. You might not have thought about that difference, though, in terms of marketing. And how you factor in these communication tendencies. Check out the infographic on this study that first debuted on Mashable – it’s pretty cool to see the differences, visually, in how men and women communicate.

For instance, if your business intelligence indicates that women are gushing about you, your product, your services, something really cool that happened, that’s the time to dial it up in your marketing funnel. And when men are talking about you, that’s the time to connect with them and encourage them to become involved.

Want an example? Someone tweets about the awesome something-or-other he discovered while in your airport. Your staff sees the tweet, realizes that it’s a man (and probably a frequent traveler—which is easy to ascertain), and reaches out to say something like “thanks for the kudos, we know how important such-and-such is to our frequent travelers.” And maybe take it a step further by asking for his opinion on some other service or inviting him to check out something he might not have discovered. BAM. Business intelligence doesn’t do all the work for you, but it can help you tailor your brand communications, your outreach and ultimately your integrated marketing efforts to specific portions of your audience. What do you think is more effective? One sizes fits all messaging or this? I call this Moneyball Messaging because I’m obsessed with that film. Big surprise, I know.

And the same is true of women. When they are gushing about your product or service (like I do on a regular basis — things like “This is the best hotel on the planet! They’ve thought of everything that a female frequent traveler needs!”). When that happens, there is no more wonderful thing (or better time) for you to reach out and say something like “Thank you so much! We’re thrilled that you love our _____ – tell us your favorite way to use it” or “…..we’d love it if you shared a pic on our Facebook page.” Getting women involved with you and your product (and your brand communications) when they are clearly and at that moment in love with what you do, sell, provide – well, that’s a win just about every time. Trust me on this one, I’m a woman.

Be Smart, Use Web Analytics, Tailor Website Content

Social intelligence can’t do it all. So let your web analytics play a role, too. Don’t guess who is visiting your website on a daily basis, let your data show you. For instance, if you’re an e-com site or require people to login for whatever it is they came to your site to do, you can offer login using Facebook Connect and Twitter Connect. That data will often show you the gender breakdown of your site visitors.

And the cool thing about your web content? You can change it based on what your data tells you. Personalize your website content based on what the gender mix of visitors to your site. But don’t stop there. Do A/B testing of your website content using different iterations of landing pages with slightly different messages. Your data will quickly tell you what resonates (and leads to sales), and what doesn’t work as well.

Response Time Matters

In some instances, you only have a short opportunity to deal with a customer service issue—and that’s where social intelligence and a speedy response can make all the difference.

For instance, when a traveler is tweeting about a wifi problem in an airport or trouble with a hotel room, understanding how people talk (and how men and women are different in this regard) is key. Understanding how they want to be responded to can help you build strong advocates and relationships and quickly move them to becoming “super fans” of your brand.

Think about the right message, delivered to the right audience at the right time and in the right location—that’s what’s going to compel them to do what you want them to do.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Response

One of the biggest mistakes we see brands making is trying to cram all people into a one-size-fits-all model. We’re all different and when brands realize this, and treat us accordingly, it really can make all the difference. Don’t be so blindly attached to data (social data or website data) that you forget to look at your customers and prospects as individuals. And understand that making gender assumptions doesn’t come without risk. So keep gender in mind but don’t let it be your holy grail.

Keep in mind that maybe your goal isn’t always to sell something—it could be just as important to mitigate problems and risk, or just keeping them happy and making their lives easier. That makes a brand advocate quicker than just about anything—even when you started out with an unhappy customer.

The World Isn’t Facebook: Don’t Stop There

Facebook is great, but brands need to understand that people don’t go to Facebook to interact with brands and most times they don’t go to Facebook to shop. In fact, they don’t really care much about brands at all when they’re on Facebook. They care about their friends. In fact, according to a recent study by Boston University’s Ashwini Nadkarni and Stefan G. Hofmann called “Why do people use Facebook” they propose that participation on Facebook meets two basic human needs: (1) the need to belong and (2) the need for self-presentation. Notice there’s no need to see what brands are doing or to buy stuff.

So when you’re trying to gather business intelligence (which is tricky at best on Facebook) don’t just rely on what you see or hear from your audience there. Facebook and Twitter represent a small part of the online conversation that’s happening. A vast majority of conversations are taking place on forums and message boards – and most brands aren’t even thinking about looking at that data. Be realistic about what you’re seeing on Facebook and Twitter and realize that the whole world isn’t limited to 955 million people, and that only a small percentage of what happens on Facebook at any given moment is actually seen by anyone else.

Understand this, do research to see where your customers are online. Then start to filter on down. But please, for all that’s holy, don’t put all your eggs in the Facebook basket. It’s not a true representation of what’s happening online as it relates to your brand.

Connecting The Dots and Moving Onward

Social business intelligence is not something you do once and you’re done. It’s an ongoing process of listening in the social media space and gathering data, and using that data and your analysis thereof to drive strategy. And data gathering is just part of the equation. It’s not a replacement for survey research data and actually asking your customers and prospects what they want, on a regular basis. It’s always amazing to us how few people do that—ask their customers what they want.

Data and social intelligence gathering is key to successful integrated marketing strategies. Understand that men and women communicate differently and that by your responses in the social media space and by your brand messaging on your website, you can impact both your sales funnel and your customer service efforts. Not to mention your overall brand persona. Remember to ask yourself (and/or get from your data):

  • Who is talking and is what they’re saying really valid?
  • Where are your customers located? How does geography play into your marketing strategies?
  • Look at content, look at what they say, but also look at what they do (these might be different things, which is important to know).
  • What content seems to be resonating with them?
  • Does different content resonate with different parts of your audience?
  • What channels are they participating in online? Are you there?
  • Keep talking with your customers. Continue to do surveys and gather data via research so that you can find out what’s in their heads.
  • Do the unthinkable — step out from behind the marketing curtain. Create opportunities to meet your customers and prospects IRL–at conferences and events, wherever they are. Talk to them. And more importantly—listen to them. They’ll tell you what’s important to them.

There you have it. A whole lot of thoughts on how to use social intelligence and data to drive your integrated marketing strategy. Bottom line, no matter what your business, we all have pretty much one goal in mind—selling more stuff to more people. Understanding how people of different genders communicate online, what your website data is telling you, and how to tailor your messaging (and your products) in such a way that you deliver what customers want, when they want it—well, that’s a win all the way around.

What do you think?

Image by runran via Creative Commons

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