Live at NRF: Social Media for Competitive Insights & Benchmarking

Dan Grady's picture
 By | January 14, 2014
January 14, 2014

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks have allowed us to maintain relationships with people on a regular basis that we otherwise might not see for years. For example, next week I’ll be participating in an alumni basketball game and dinner. In the past, I would have spent the first five minutes of every conversation getting an update on families and careers before getting to the all-important tales of our legendary athletic ability and road-trip hijinks.

Since most of us are connected now via social media, we can skip the formalities and go straight to the war stories. Social media has provided businesses with the same ability to create an ongoing dialogue with their customers. They are spending millions of dollars on creating “engaging” content and then analyzing the “reach” and “influence” of each and every post or tweet --all with the goal of maintaining a strong relationship between their customer and their brand.

While our conversations with friends on social networks stay somewhat private, the conversations that businesses are having with their customers, are out there for everyone to see (for the most part). The threads are publicly viewable by current and future customers as well as competitors. The ability to get valuable insights from your competitors’ data is a new way to get an edge. In addition to writing emails or phoning the call center, consumers can (and do) complain about product quality and issues on social media. They also respond to marketing campaigns by commenting, “liking” or retweeting the content on the web. Now it’s much easier to glean the success or failures of marketing and advertising campaigns.

For example, BurgerBox might monitor the activity on BestBurger’s Facebook page and see a spike in activity. Was it caused by a new marketing campaign launched by BestBurger? Or could it be that they’re dealing with a Brand Crisis situation because a customer found a shoe in a cheeseburger? If they are nimble enough with their analysis, BurgerBox could quickly respond and capitalize on the situation by running their own digital marketing campaign – “No Shoes in our Cheeseburgers”. That might seem a bit strange, but you’d be surprised what you find out there on the social networks if you listen close enough.

In addition to providing valuable insights, your competitors’ social data also serves another important purpose -- benchmarking. Benchmarks help us understand whether we are improving or not. Social metrics are no different, but unlike standard business metrics where you are typically comparing things to your own organization’s performance over time, social metrics allow you to use your peers. For example, if I told you that 12 percent of the conversation on your Facebook page in December had a negativity tone, how would you know whether that was good or bad? If your competition was in the range of 10-15 percent, you’d see you were in line with the industry. If they were significantly lower, however, there would be cause for concern.

Last year at NRF, one of the more popular demonstrations we offered at our booth was this ability to do competitive analysis of social data. Most people were interested to see how their organization or brand stacked up to their peers on the social networks in terms of share of voice and sentiment. We’ll be doing the same again this year. If you happen to be at the show and are interested please stop by Information Builders booth 2444. I’d be happy to show you the technology in action and have a conversation. I promise to keep the conversation between us and only tell you about all of the Buzzer Beaters if you ask.