Have you ever wondered how social media companies make money? For example, how Twitter makes money? Of course, we will put advertising aside for the time being. Well, one of the ways in which Twitter brings home the bacon is by selling data to companies which either analyze this data and sell it on or to “end-user” companies which then analyze this data to improve their operations.
The sheer amount of data that is shared on social media is reason enough for companies and non-commercial entities to start including this social data in their business intelligence efforts and today we will be looking at what can be accomplished by doing so.
Enhanced Customer Insight
Your “traditional” business intelligence (BI in the remainder of the article) will let you know, for instance, that your “product X” is not selling great on the East Coast, or in Germany, or in Southern Italy. If you manage to successfully incorporate social media data into your BI strategy, you will probably be able to learn why this is the case, who it is that is spearheading this refusal of your new product and perhaps even what you might wish to try to improve the sales of this product in these areas.
More Timely Insight
One of the most important aspects of social media is that things happen extremely quickly there, especially on Twitter, which is covering events and gathering opinions almost in real time. This means that the data obtained from such social networks is going to show certain trends much faster than traditional BI. With quality BI software which allows for timely analysis, this can result in such an agility on the market that your competitors will start thinking you can see into the future.
More Diverse Insight
In essence, the majority of data you will collect from social media is going to revolve around how your customers and potential customers are feeling about your organization and what they think about it. Due to the specific nature of social media, this insight is going to be far more diverse than anything you could have obtained in some different way. Perhaps the best way to explain this would be to imagine a concrete case.
Let’s imagine that you run a small local burger place where you do organic burgers with only locally sourced ingredients. You also deliver. Somehow, you found the time and the resources to incorporate social media in your BI efforts.
For instance, you might find out that people love your burgers but that they are just a tad too expensive (because of the high quality ingredients you use). Or you may find out that your customers think your delivery is too slow.
These are all things that you can fix, which may be harder or easier depending on the issue. Moreover, you can use these insights for future marketing efforts. For example, you can announce that you will be cutting prices by 10% or by ensuring delivery in under 20 minutes.
These are just examples. Restaurant marketing is a complex field but this type of insight can definitely help.
Limitations of Social Media BI
By now, you are probably expecting that including social media in your business intelligence efforts is immediately going to revolutionize your organization and that you will start making millions just because you have decided to do some social media data analysis. Unfortunately, it does not work this way in reality.
For one, it takes quite a bit of effort to actually analyze large quantities of data that can be obtained from social media. In addition to this, you will need to put all this data into the context of your existing insights and relationships with customers. This can also be quite an undertaking.
It should also be pointed out that these insights will very rarely lead to the same fast and palpable results that more “traditional” business intelligence can bring. The bottom line will not improve immediately and it might take quite a bit before you actually start reaping the benefits of combining social media and BI.
That being said, it will provide you with plenty of insight that you will be able to put to good use in no time. With some smart moves, you should soon see a better relationship with your customers, which will definitely benefit your organization.