Data from Social Media for Business Choices

“Smarter use of data will help marketers respond faster – and better – to business challenges. Don’t just focus on Big Data; think about shifting emphasis to ‘smart data’.”Noah Elkin

Social media has a lure that is very unique and distinct. Within a few years it has acquired ubiquitous status, with millions as people from across the globe logging in to the sites, adding data, putting in their personal information and using it perform a variety of actions. Data from social media sites is like a ‘gold mine’ for business that need to gather customer information and make an analysis on this data in order to make smart business choices for themselves and for their customers. It is a way to gather customer opinion and understand their feelings about companies and their offerings thereby producing offerings at a price range that customers will be happy with and also provide a level of customer service as expected by customers.

Every business has their own set of goals and targets to be achieved and while gathering data from social media, the company must first understand which of these targets will be met through the gathering and analysis of such data. Of course, as with all businesses, the main aim usually is to provide the best service to customers at the most reasonable costs, cut back on overheads and increase earning and profits, keep a pulse on customer moods and behaviour, gather feedback on their company’s offerings and other such valuable information that will help their company to stride ahead.

There are ample technological tools available that make it easy to centralize and analyse the unstructured and scattered data and information available on social media sites. Putting this data together and evaluating it will help the company to judge its own performance based on the standards and performance indicators they set for themselves.

From starting off as just a means to increase one’s social influence, social media has traversed long and swiftly to emerge as being a medium to help businesses increase their reach and visibility. Companies have now realized that they cannot limit their services through any channel of communication and even contact centres now have moved from being information centres to hubs that provide complete and all-round support to the customers. They are expected to use the internet to provide any information that customers want and need and the agents working there must be skilled and knowledgeable enough to provide solutions, technical support, be trouble-shooters and also reservoirs of data. The most prominent of on-line channels is of course, social media sites. Data from social media sites comes from customers and prospective ones continually logging in to ‘converse’ with companies and other users about their experiences of buying and what they perhaps would be inclined to buy in the future. These on-line interactions, especially between consumers, provide vital leads and information to companies who are now finding ways to leverage these ‘conversations’ to make fitting business choices that will be advantageous to them and allow them to produce better offerings for their customers.

Data from social media is available largely through 2 mediums – the information that is available through the company’s website via the discussion forums and the other popular social media sites via which customers ‘speak’ with each other and leave a trail of communication that forms a great path of valuable information that companies can use to make informed business choices.

These two ‘areas’ are rich in data and companies are actively using both to gather vital clues on customers – buying patterns, preferences, experiences and other such information that they decide to leave behind on these sites. It is up to the companies to extract this data from social media sites and use it as ‘intelligence’ served first hand by customers, to in turn serve them even better. Gathering, analysing and monitoring this data is not and should not be the sole responsibility of the contact centres or even just the customer service teams – the reason being that social media interactions and data have a huge impact on every area of business and no part of the company can remain unaffected by this data.

Every company – small and big – has realized the massive potential of social media and the criticality of gathering and analysing the vast amounts of data available there. They also realize that this is just the beginning – as this channel of communication is poised to become even stronger and more potent in its capability as time passes. As technology improves, companies are in a better position to capture and use the customer data and information to strengthen their own market standing by increasing their customer base and revenue.

There is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that having an effective and focused method of wisely using the extracted data from social media will enable them to control and direct huge profits and revenue increasing prospects. However, any business that has not used this particular method of channelizing data from social media may initially see it as daunting and may even be apprehensive as to its potential. Such companies should use the experience of businesses that have benefited from using this method, follow their lead and replicate their successes by harnessing the huge potential offered by social media ‘talk’ and in turn profitably impact their business.

By gathering and analysing data from social media companies are able to track how active and widely mentioned their brand is and what consumers are saying about it in their comments and discussions with other consumers. Companies are also able to identify if their marketing and promotional efforts are having the kind of influence and reach as they desire and need to make an impact. This data also helps companies to pro-actively resolve any potential issues and problems and also manage the perception around the brand, keeping it from becoming negative if such an opportunity arises. Tracking data from social media sites provides companies with first-hand information and several opportunities to serve their customers better and also raise their own standing in the market.

Even though social media is a new ‘event’, it has turned a number of the traditional methods of doing business on their head. It has managed to create so much euphoria and excitement amongst businesses and has become the largest body of data that can be accessed and used by companies. Of course, the capability of extracting and analysing this data is therefore becoming the point of differentiation between a successful company and ones that fail in their social media engagement.

Companies and businesses that are new to this ‘game’ must do some groundwork before beginning and the first step would to first clearly understand why you need to use the data from social media and how it would benefit your company. It is impossible to make a success of anything if you don’t understand what you want from it. Luckily, for the newbies, there are a number of tools and software that can help with analysing the data extracted from social media ‘conversations’.  Whatever tools you use, ensure that the data is user-friendly, centrally accessible and easily retrievable so that every part of your business can use it as and when they need the information.

Social media is rapidly taking over and is continually evolving. Those businesses that can speedily conjoin their operations with the strategies surrounding social media will be better positioned to respond to customer needs and offer enhanced service and experiences. Isn’t that the prime purpose of any business?


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