Imagine a life without Facebook? For many it’s an impossibility. On February 4th, 2014 Facebook completed 10 years since a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg created a website called Thefacebook.com to let his classmates find their friends online.

Social Intelligence

So much has happened in the social space since then and much has been said about the growth of social media — its multiple channels and the enormous scope of its content and subject matter. Social media seems to offer something for everyone. With the proliferation of mobile devices, social media is available everywhere and its impact is immediate. What began as an innocuous technology trend only a few short years ago has become a powerful instrument of social change.

In business, social media is now a powerful marketing tool that is pushing boundaries with new uses and new users with each passing day. It can be deployed to share news from a corporate event on a near real-time basis, or create a buzz about a great new product within minutes of its launch. Or, just as quickly, it can be used to share the details of an unpleasant experience with customer service.

Marketing Digitization – Following the Customer

Marketing Digitization

Social media is re-shaping the way organizations engage their customers and nurture their relationship with brands, products and services. Here are some figures that give an idea of the scale of the social media phenomenon:

  1. 1.43 billion people worldwide visited a social networking site last year
  2. Nearly 1 in 8 people worldwide have their own Facebook page
  3. Last year, one million new accounts were added to Twitter everyday
  4. Three million new blogs are activated every month
  5. 65 percent of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services

For marketers, a good portion of social media’s value lies in its ability to aggregate communities of interest, identify specific demographics and thus enable marketers to precisely segment and engage their audience. 

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Social Media – A Catalyst for Richer Customer Insights

Like any source of customer data, social media provides an understanding of a customer’s preferences, aspirations & needs. This could help establish sign posts within an organization to better engage with customers at different engagement points in the relationship. These sign posts act as a roadmap to help the organization knit together a comprehensive view of customer’s actions. Social media can be a catalyst to help companies achieve:

  1. Influence and Intimacy – Social media amplifies the “relationship” in customer relationship management.
  2. Scale and speed – Social media channels enable marketers to reach more customers faster, dynamically, and with greater precision. It can take months of planning, creative development and media purchases to launch a print ad campaign, compared to the immediacy of Twitter and Facebook campaigns.
  3. Lower costs – Social media offers dramatically lower costs to precisely target and engage audiences across multiple channels, segments and locations.

Social media enables organizations to connect and engage consumers in a unique way. It provides a path to richer customer analysis, using technologies capable of funneling and consolidating customer insights. Additionally, Social media allows a brand to contribute to a conversation or opportunity that previously would have been private if it was not posted to a public social media account.

Transforming Social Media Intelligence into Effective Actions

Simply listening to customers on social media is not enough. Listening is a starting point. But the end goal is business value.

Organizations best able to differentiate themselves have an ability to incorporate social media analytics into their customer and marketing automation processes, to monetize their investments and integrate insights into their customer data for actionability.

The time to act is now. Indeed, as a result of the rapid growth of social media, recent years have seen an accelerated shift in marketing spend, moving away from traditional channels such as print and broadcast to digital channels. But this isn’t just for marketers. It must involve cross functional teams, such as IT and product teams that help the organization create relationships, build advocacy and improve loyalty — all with the goal of driving revenue and social media provides the means to do just that.

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