The Importance of Social Media and Business Intelligence Integration
Social media is now increasingly used to not only project marketing influence, but also to collect important demographic and consumer data based on interactions that occur across the various platforms. As this social internet continues to evolve, social media interactions are more easily collected into systems of metrics than can parse, store and interpret this interaction data into actionable market intelligence. Coupled with Business Intelligence, this makes for increasingly powerful, actionable and immediate access to consumer sentiment.
Where Social Media and Business Intelligence Intersect
As Social Media continues to evolve, it’s data formats become more standardized and easier to integrate into pre-existing systems, it is therefore an essential new pillar in a company’s marketing efforts. Together, there are five areas that are increasingly able to share and utilize this new, more immediate customer and client feedback:
- Social Media – As mentioned before, this medium is an excellent source of real time data that is authentic for being delivered first person from the end user without being pre-packaged into a survey or other pre-defined format. There are now a wide variety of software companies able to track, parse and do metrics on this information, including the use of natural language processing in order to better extract changes in sentiment toward a product or campaign.
- Marketing Strategy – Marketing strategy is not only informed by Social Media, it works bi-laterally, utilizing the social web to broadcast its initatives and engage potential customers with more accurate targeting and quicker response. Both components inform each other and mutually enhance value plus performance.
- Business Intelligence – The success or failure of marketing campaigns as well as the more granular data that is returned by parsing through interactions can then be fed into business intelligence systems that process this information either automatically or in conjunction with a marketing professional. Generally speaking, both methods are used, with automated processes often revealing marketing insights that could otherwise go unseen.
- CRM – Interaction data, campaign response and output from Business Intelligence querys can all inform how customers are handled, and these customer relations strategies can be updated with greater frequency and granularity with regards to demographics, purchase history and location. This is enabled by the rapid feedback that Social Media and Business Intelligence processing provide.
- Internal Business Processes – In the same way that customer facing activity can respond quickly to a more direct communication with the customer base, internal processes can now have the necessary data to make increased agility even more productive.
Key Reasons To Incorporate Social Media and Enterprise Marketing
- Cost Reduction – The cost of engaging in Social Media compared to traditional media is so low as to be negligable. In fact, improving social media performance is less a matter of increased budget and more a matter of creativity and genuiness. This is changing marketing in a significant way which favors those organizations that are willing to empower and converse with their customers.
- Flexibility – Social media is imminently flexible. When combined with marketing technology, such efforts do not end with broadcasting. In fact, using social media to broadcast is merely the beginning of many company’s efforts. A true social media campaign converses, and then parses, stores and repurposes that feedback via business intelligence.
- Analytics – Rather than pushing a survey onto a prospective or current customer, current technologies coupled with creativity allow for gathering this data via user interaction and real time feedback. This makes for much more abundant and authentic data, thus improving the usefulness of market research without inconveniencing the potential client.
- Targeting – Traditional media advertising and marketing is commonly one-size-fits all. Venturing into new areas requires additional cost and commitment. Using the social web, all that is needed is a newly defined test group and knowledge as to the sites they frequent. This makes market expansion much less risky.
- Value Creation – As many companies continue to drift further away from manufacturing and more toward marketing of goods, the value of an organization will increasingly be seen in its ability to reach an audience and retain its attention. Companies will continue to gain value to the extent that they can utilize information technology and integrate it systemically. Treating technology as a snap on component to the ‘core business’ will be increasingly seen as a liability.
- Responsiveness – Depending on staff size, it is possible for a company to respond to customer feedback in real time or withing 24 hours with a remarkable degree of personalization. While most companies will not go to such lengths, the fact that such capability exists (And can be strategically utilized, if only for PR reasons), will serve to impress upon an audience a true sense of dedication.
- Granularity – Because feedback from customers does not come in the form of a standardized 10 question survey, the range and specificity of response data will have a granularity that is orders of magnitude higher than traditional market research. Beyond this, since the data is stored in a database, it can always be recalled and interpreted at a later date, as inspiration strikes.
- Authenticity – This same open format to conversing and feedback response leads to interactions that are real one-to-one conversations. In addition, communities surrounding a given product or service commonly provide the sense of ‘realness’ that many customers anguish over when dealing with something like a phone menu.
Social Media Metrics and Actionable Responses
All of the benefits above help make for extremely useful metrics. Companies now have far more control over customer sentiment, provided they wish to be proactive and use the data that is available to them. This requires a new set of skills and technologies, but it enables an organization to arrest a crisis long before a single customers creative complaint goes viral. These same analytics services and programs can also help companies determine which format and media type work best for their audience, thus allowing for a more gradual and lower cost entry into a new space. Test marketing is cheaper, faster and provides more accurate response. Metrics also allow for the monitoring of one’s competitors. They are likely using many of the same platforms but just as likely using unique approaches. Watching their progress can save the time and cost of undertaking a faulty strategy on your own. Research also becomes more powerful because analytics and data standardization not only make data collection possible, but also infinitely interpretable.
The Social Media Marketing Work Flow
Social media marketing get the most out of business intelligence when there is a strict work flow involved. A strategy must be developed to outbound communications, including a core messaging that must be delivered to the target audience. The tools for communication then need to be defined. The format of your message will depend on the medium you’ll be using. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook not only have unique types, but also unique ways of communicating, including how upfront one can be with regards to product or service promotion. When the strategy is then matched to the tools and various formats are created, the actual broadcasting and conversations can take place. Once a campaign has been run for awhile, interaction data can then be collected , analyzed and acted upon. How much data and to what degree of detail one goes into depends of the scope of the effort as well as the sophistication of the software being used to gather information.
Linking Social Media, Marketing and Business Intelligence
There is already a wide variety of companies offering solutions for gathering and interpreting social media data. While the high end of the spectrum (SAP, IBM, Oracle) all have offerings, they tend to be more focused on the database and number crunching analytics side of the equation as opposed to the data collection and marketing insight components. This gap is currently being filled by companies like Omniture, Unica and a Attensity among others. Which solution you choose depends on how you define your needs as well as the volume of data you see your Social Media efforts producing. In addition, you should consider whether you are more focused on analytics, marketing insight/strategy or public relations. Now is a great time to have such exact needs met because there is now an extremely wide variety of companies serving along this spectrum.
Social Media Marketing will continue to develop its capabilities as a scalable and measurable science. While there will never be a means to automate the creativity and personal attention that makes a campaign really successful, failure to use distributed information technologies to better target and interpret the results of your creativity will simply lead to gross disadvantage in terms of flexibility, response time and consumer insight. Going out and buying ‘The best one on the market’ will not create instant advantage either. The current state of marketing does not call for a new product purchase, but for a new set of skills and understandings with regard to the changes to market dynamics that Social Media has brought upon us.