"Anti-Social" Media

Dan Grady's picture
 By | October 04, 2013
in WebFOCUS, Business Intelligence, Social Analytics, Marketing, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Marketing, Social Media
October 04, 2013

Network graph courtesy of Phauly on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Imagine a person who has a real conversation with you, communicating in some detail about your relationship and value to each other, and then – the moment he turns away to get back to work – he forgets everything you were just talking about.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call him social. I might even call him a sociopath, someone who is only pretending to have empathy.

Social media analytics can be like that.

It doesn’t have to be. This article, for instance, is a great write-up on how Toyota analyzes social media conversations about their brands and competitors, and then applies the analysis across different areas within the company.

I was impressed by the variety of ways they applied their analysis.  It’s fairly common these days to listen to social media conversations and apply sentiment or other text analytic functions to quantify the data, but how you apply the analysis determines how much value you get out of it.

But what impressed me the most? They really knew how to be social.

In the past year, I’ve met and discussed social media analytics with numerous organizations in several different industries, especially retail, financial services, and state and local government. All too often, they haven’t figured out how to be social with social media.

Most of the analysis they do is driven by and focused on marketing activities.  Depending on the software they’ve chosen and their level of maturity the analysis ranges from engagement-level metrics, or vanity metrics, such as page likes, retweets, or reach, to listening-level metrics like sentiment. (Sentiment measurement basically applies a numeric score to a piece of text based on whether it’s positive or negative. Those scores can then be used to prioritize the responses.)

But they’re faking it. They’re anti-social. Very few, if any, had matured to the level where they were involving social data with other data within organization to determine the business impact of social media activities – to listen to what their customers were saying, and act on it appropriately.

For example, they might see that a specific digital marketing campaign has resulted in increased engagement and website activity. But they might never know whether there has been a similar increase in store traffic and sales over that same time period.

Or they might see an increase in negative feedback coming in from Facebook and Twitter – but they may never check for consistency with the feedback they’re getting through other channels such as the call center, help desk, and online surveys. (Responses, of course, can differ by channel.)

To do this kind of analysis, you more than access to the data that social listening tools provide. You need business units to be social – not just use social media, but actually be social.  Sales and marketing, customer support, product development, quality assurance, and IT all have to be involved if you are going to get the most out this continuous source of insight.

Look at the definition of the term social: “tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.” That’s what you’re striving for.

It was Toyota’s ability to internally match this definition that is driving their success. It’s the siloed “anti-social” nature of most organizations that is holding them back.