Using Your Social Media Intelligence

Social media channels have become the modern day podium for consumers to express their thoughts and opinions, oftentimes relating directly to your business. Through a well-planned social strategy, delving into these conversations is where your company can better understand the customer and learn the strengths and weaknesses of what your company does – whether it pertains to your services, products, promotions or even to your own employees or key competitors.

Finding these social insights through your customer’s voice is where you can truly improve your business. The question is: how can you use social media channels to find these types of insights? Here are three basic steps to consider when gathering social media intelligence:

1. Monitor Conversations

Gathering social media intelligence requires listening to what your customers are saying. Think beyond Facebook and Twitter, and consider popular forums, blogs and even location-based networking sites, like Foursquare and Yelp. Also, consider monitoring conversations that relate to your key competitors, as these conversations can be leveraged to see how your company compares to them.

2. Analyze Conversations & Sentiment

As always, analysis is the next step. Obtain the conversations taking place on multiple social networking platforms and evaluate what consumers are discussing. Some questions you may ask yourself: Are there any key topics being discussed? Are they complaining or praising the quality or price of a product? Do they applaud any specific employees for their superior customer service? Do they purchase your product due to a current promotion? How are they responding to your sponsorships? Do they prefer a competitor’s product over yours?

3. Act on Social Insights

This is the fun part of your social strategy. This step is where you turn your trends into insights and your insights into actions. For example, if you are a retail clothing company and your customers constantly criticize the fit of a particular product, it could be worth exploring a new fit to better accommodate them. Or perhaps a few customers have stated how helpful your employees were at a particular retail store location; consider rewarding them for their quality customer service.

Regardless of the actual insight that is garnered, social media intelligence can truly help your company make more definitive and data-driven business decisions based off the voice of the consumers you serve. You just have to know how to use social media to your advantage.

Steve Parker Jr. is the co-founder and managing partner of Levelwing, a 2011 Spark! Award winner.