6 Ways to Get Social Data Working for Your Brand

  |  August 16, 2012   |  Comments

How you can make big data actionable and scalable via targeted email communications and social posts.

As brands continue to integrate social media into their marketing efforts, the focus has increasingly turned to big data. In fact, you can't have a conversation today with a social media provider without someone inevitably bringing up the topic of APIs to gain access to the data surrounding interactions. But unstructured data can be challenging for legacy systems, especially when querying large strings of data to create attributes that can be acted upon for marketing efforts. So whether you're implementing social sign-in on your website or leveraging apps to connect with customers, it's critical to work with a provider who can not only collect and analyze the data but put it in a format that allows you to take action.

While choosing what data to collect does vary by each brand and specific objectives and goals, there are a few core "attributes" that represent low-hanging fruit. These are the data attributes that allow most brands (regardless of vertical) to automate some key marketing programs that drive value, results, and ultimately, stronger relationships. One of the most efficient ways to do this is via a permission-based process that includes an app acceptance executed via a social sign or "connect" process that is also tied to email. So without further ado here are my top six social profile attributes you can't afford to ignore in this process and why.

  1. Email address. Social interactions and apps offer marketers the unique opportunity to collect critical attributes including an email opt-in across key touch points such as a brand's website or social network page. Adding an email opt-in to a social sign-in app acceptance or connect process allows marketers to continue that conversation throughout the customer lifecycle. Be sure to match collected addresses against your existing database to avoid duplicates and be specific regarding what the consumer is signing up
  2. Birthday. In a recent Social Identity study conducted by Blue Research for social web user management platform provider Janrain, 88 percent of individuals admitted to supplying incorrect information or leaving fields incomplete on registration forms. Tapping into social profile data via a permission-based app allows marketers to collect accurate attributes such as birthday that can then be used to power valuable relationships. Automating birthday messages and including an added incentive, such as a special discount or free gift, enable leading brands to not only recognize customers but create another reason to engage and incentivize a store visit or purchase.
  3. Location. According to a Census Bureau report, four out of 10 people moved between 2009 and 2010 for housing-related reasons. Additionally, over 28 percent of those moved to a different county within the state or a different state entirely. Not surprisingly, the implications to marketers can be significant. With social networks being central to maintaining and communicating life events with family and friends, profile updates and accuracy remains high. Adding location to the collection process enables brands to verify location data and track and target consumers with relevant messaging based on the latest information shared and refreshed based on interactions with the app or via a social sign-in. Geo-messaging across email and via targeted social posts where available (i.e., Facebook) allow brands to update relevant customers about new store openings, local events, and/or offers. Additionally, tracking location over time based on interactions with the app enables brands to remain relevant over the life of the relationship.
  4. Interest. Purchase and interest data is often seen as one of the most powerful predictors of future purchase intent. Therefore it should come as no surprise that "interest" lands at the top of any brand's list of most desirable attributes. Using interest to power dynamic content and offers or to up-sell/cross-sell helps leading brands drive performance and results across a variety of communication types including email newsletters and promotional and service messaging.
  5. Engagement. Tracking the engagement a consumer has with a brand is perhaps one of the most underleveraged attributes used today. A survey by Aite Research found highly engaged Gen Y users were more than twice as likely to recommend and purchase additional services from their bank. The old 80/20 rule applies here as well. Understanding the 20 percent of your customers who are highly engaged with your brand and treating them differently can pay handsome dividends. Collect and analyze the data and create and index your score based on the interactions with your brand's social page. Then use that score to segment and communicate with users differently based on their engagement score.
  6. Social graph data. While we've spent the majority of time understanding the individual consumer interacting with your brand, I would be remiss if I ignored one of the most important and powerful attributes of social data - the social graph. By understanding the individual's social graph, including their friends' interests, brands have an enormous opportunity to expand the reach and performance of their messaging. Leverage this data to include targeted messages that also encourage the customer to share a relevant offer with friends who share the same interest via an email or post to Facebook.

Social data and the promise of big data remains one of today's hottest topics. But with a little strategic planning and the ability to capture the right data in a structured way, big data can be made actionable and scalable via targeted email communications and social posts.


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Michael Della Penna

Michael Della Penna is an digital marketing veteran, entrepreneur, and visionary currently serving as CEO of Invisible Media, a next-generation mobile data, decisioning, and marketing automation platform. Prior to joining Invisible Media, Michael was the senior vice president of emerging channels at Responsys. His responsibilities included spearheading the overall strategic direction, M&A efforts (including the acquisition of PushIO), partnerships, and solution offering across key digital channels including social, mobile, and display. Before joining Responsys, Michael founded Conversa Marketing, a full-service email and social CRM agency that helped brands ignite conversations and cultivate relationships with customers across the social Web. Conversa Marketing, was acquired by StrongView in 2010. Before branching out on his own, Michael served as CMO for Epsilon. At Epsilon, Michael helped grow and transform the company from a database provider to a multi-channel marketing services powerhouse in just three years. Michael's other key leadership roles include CMO at Bigfoot Interactive, vice president of strategic development at CNET Networks, Inc., and vice president of marketing at ZDNet. Michael has been named to BtoB Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in Business-to-Business Marketing five times and received a BBA and an MBA from Hofstra University.

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