For the past several years, executives have wised up to the idea that they need to listen to what their customers and prospects are saying on the Web. But just listening is no longer enough. Today, you have to leverage “socialytics” to discover what people are saying and then act on it.
Coined by IDC, “socialytics” is an amalgamation of “social media” and “analytics.” It refers to the ability to analyze the unstructured data generated by e-communities and social networks and integrate with internal data sources to provide actionable insight, predict trends and improve business processes.
For example Kraft Foods is supplementing its traditional market research methods with a well-applied social-listening campaign. Part of Kraft Foods’ Consumer Insight and Strategy group, Frank Cotignola points out that listening research can be valid and actionable without tapping the representative sample of target consumers that is often the keystone of traditional research.
A new Economist Intelligence Unit/PulsePoint Group survey of more than 300 North American senior business executives shows that the payoffs of social engagement are very real. A majority of participants in the survey, which was published in March 2012, listed increased market share, improved speed to market/innovation and improved brand value as the benefits of social engagement.
More than 80% of survey participants agreed that social engagement has tangible benefits, with project management, innovation, collaboration, efficiency gains and cost savings topping the list. In addition, executives surveyed felt that social engagement benefits customers, supplier and employees.
Socialytics in action
Organizations have been tapping social media for a variety of purposes for some time now. Hollywood film studios follow social media trends to predict revenues of current and future projects. New product development is an up-and-coming area. Companies can monitor their online constituency and infer what consumers would like to see in the next release of their products.
Government can identify emerging threats and upheavals using the billions of posts people around the world share every day. Fox News recently reported that the U.S. government is looking for an automated way to mine and analyze data from social media to help combat future terrorist attacks. This extends work the Centers for Disease Control did with San Francisco-based Linguastat Inc. during the 2009 swine flu outbreak to track public fears and concerns on social networks and determine whether the CDC’s public health messages were gaining traction.
Socialytics can also be used in aid of Human Resources. For example, HR can manage its employee knowledge base by tapping into social media to learn about a job candidate’s skills and information available on LinkedIn, blogs, Tweets to get insight into influence and value he can bring to company. They can also use text analysis to browse CVs of their consultants for customer engagements, delivering valuable customer touch point analytics for the field and combine this with social media data. HR can create job profiles and development paths for their employees based on publicly available information on platforms. Rather than relying on traditional surveys, which can be time-consuming and costly, HR can also process information from social media to gauge employees’ level of job satisfaction and take action to make improvements when necessary. However, the jury is still out on whether this is going to be widely accepted practice or if the applications will broaden in other directions.
Engaging with your customers over social media is no longer enough. In order to reap significant benefits, you now need to listen, analyze and then act. How are you using socialytics for your organization? Tweet me @SNSinha to tell me more.