How To: Make the Most of Social Data in Your Insights Center of Excellence

The concept of “data overload” hits close to home for consumer insights pros.

You’re inundated with various data types day in and day out; surveys, CRM, web analytics, even weather, biometrics and oh, so much more. It can be overwhelming.

Social is poised to play a huge part in any insights team’s arsenal of data sources.

There is no larger set of unsolicited, raw data as social. That’s what allows insights managers to mine for top notch and useful insights, with the flexibility of changing course at a moment’s notice. But it’s still a widely untapped resource for consumer insights teams when compared to ad views and more traditional market research channels.

There’s still a disconnect between knowing that social is important — “yes, we have to use social insights!” — and actually utilizing it to its full potential — “so, what social metrics should I actually be looking at?”

Using the right social data metrics to align with your business’ objectives is key, according to Forrester senior analyst Cinny Little.

How do you factor in social when it comes to building a CoE? Which social metrics should brands select and share throughout the organization?

One of the CoE’s mandates is to align social metrics with metrics that have people’s attention: the ones brands already use, report on, and share information about —especially metrics they’re goaled on.

If social metrics are different across brands, lines of business, and/or regions, then the CoE must provide governance to drive alignment and commonality. The CoE must govern a balance and global brand voice while balancing local needs and differences driven by local expertise in culture, regulatory environments, and social network usage.

Which metrics to factor in differ based on the role or roles that social plays for a brand or firm, such as marketing, customer service, or loyalty.

For everyone, though, there are three types of social measurement: business impact, marketing impact, and content impact. Business impact is the most critical and hardest to measure — it’s what you use, ultimately, to tie social’s contribution to revenue and brand health.

Marketing impact measures how well social moves the needle on the phase of the customer life cycle you’ve targeted, from engage, discover, and explore to buy, use, and ask. Content impact is the most rudimentary form of social measurement: the counting of clicks, likes, and shares.

These metrics tell nothing about social’s effect on business outcomes, but they do help frontline staffers understand which content is capturing the attention of your social audiences.

Here at Brandwatch, we believe in the far-reaching value of social data.

But we also know social is even more powerful when analyzed alongside other data sets; ask any market researcher and you’ll hear a resounding “yes!”.

But when it comes to selecting which social metrics to measure and prioritize in your team, what you choose to measure is directly influenced by your goals.

First there is the task of ranking the three types of insights impact by importance to your brand.

Your prioritization has to make fiscal and business sense. To make your life easier, I went on the hunt to find real-world examples that could bring these types of measurements to life.

Seeing is believing, after all.

Unpicking the areas of impact

I asked Hadley Deming, Brandwatch’s senior operations manager, demand generation, which social metrics she sees corresponding to each area of impact.

Her role is centered around drawing insights from all types of marketing and sales data, and making recommendations for how to adjust marketing and sales activities based on this knowledge.

Who better to get advice from on this matter?

Business impact 

Admittedly, this is the hardest type of social measurement to track. When it comes to social data metrics, it comes down to the question, “How has social media activity impacted our bottom line for sales or our brand reputation?”

This is all about how social connects to dollars.

There’s an excellent case study of Bimbo uncovering a potential crisis situation and turning it into a selling opportunity.

The popular bakery brand’s Gansito cakes was garnering some negative sentiment in a specific region because of the unavailability of a limited edition flavor. Bimbo’s team was able to quickly react based on insights surfaced from social data thanks to their Brandwatch Vizia insights center.

Rather than going into “crisis response mode” or firing back, the company made a strategic pivot to make certain the limited edition flavor was in fact sold in the areas where the conversation was happening.

Ask and you shall receive.

This insights-backed business move ensured that the company sold out the snack cake in eight weeks, four weeks ahead of schedule, amounting to over $560,000 in sales.

That’s business impact you can take to the bank, and to your executives.

Marketing impact

This is the CMO’s personal favorite.

It’s all about seeing tangible results from social in the various stages of the marketing funnel. Marketing impact is sparked by questions including, “Where has social had impact on a prospect’s journey, moving them through the funnel?”

Useful metrics to measure include traffic conversions from social referrals, and identifying which social-driven touchpoints influenced new business closed.

Conversion metrics are incredibly important to understanding the marketing impact and efficacy of social media activities.

Conversions overall show you the number of people who completed your desired result — whether that’s requesting a demo, registering for your live event, or completing a survey. Another example is content downloads. Seeing the UTM links that brought prospects or customers to a content download page attaches real numbers to the specific Twitter ad or LinkedIn post that drove people to follow the link and take the action.

Form completions reveal how many precious details your content was able to collate. This type of data can be incredibly useful when paired with the referral that lead to the completion of this action. Find what is working, and do more of it!

Content impact

The so-called “vanity metrics” are still useful for your content team and marketing stakeholders.

Those volumes, frequencies, and time stamps of clicks, likes, and shares help content marketers determine what topics and formats of content are most intriguing to your audience. These are social’s bread and butter numbers and should not be disregarded.

If your team is streamlining its content strategy, or trying to tap a new audience base, these social metrics and insights will help you cherry pick the right time and place to post the right type of content.

With the three types of impact from insights and social metrics in your arsenal, you can pinpoint the priority impacts for your business. And most importantly, get to work.

Social offers up a massive source of data in addition to being a must-use channel for promotion of your content, events, and other marketing activities. Incorporate the right social metrics into your insights team and help your marketing team — and other areas of the business — make smarter, insights-driven decisions.

We’ve got one more insights Center of Excellence blog for you, where we’ll discuss the role that visuals and design play in the insights-sharing process. There are infinite number of ways and twice as many channels to distribute insights to your company’s departments. But what works best for you? And what’s known to work best for the world’s biggest brands? We’ll dissect this topic next time.

If you want more information on all things related to insights CoEs, the complete Q&A with Forrester’s Cinny Little is available to read now.


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