Every business, regardless of its size, now understands that the use of both social media platforms and blogging are valuable tools for marketing and promoting brands and products.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ give businesses the opportunity to engage with customers and monitor conversations about their brands. Most businesses have grasped the concept of engagement, and are happy to play along with it because they can see the benefits. But social media platforms are capable of offering a whole lot more than that. Social media channels can also play an important role in predicting what customers are likely to want. Unfortunately, it only appears to be the bigger businesses that have cottoned on to this. They understand that not only can businesses use social media platforms to run specific campaigns; they can also use the likes of Twitter and Facebook to determine and drive marketing strategies. If it’s good enough for larger corporations, why shouldn’t it be good enough for smaller companies? Shouldn’t more SME’s be using the social media for predicting which actions will give them the greatest rate of return?
So, where’s the evidence for this?
Well, the computer giant IBM released a study late last year about the use of sentiment analysis through social media channels. The study discovered that when computer analytics were used to monitor social media postings, it was actually possible to predict trends. IBM found that by using these analytics it was able to predict that there would be a significant growth in ladies shoe fashion, in spite of the recession. So it recommended channelling additional resources to that area of the market where growth would be most likely. The experiment proved to be particularly successful. A source for the company was quoted as saying: ‘the project highlights the predictive capabilities of social media analysis as a source of valuable insight that can help drive business strategies and results.”
Now you might think, well, that’s IBM, not a small business or a start-up.
What’s to say that that type of strategy would work for my small enterprise? Well, that may be a fair comment, but it ignores the fact that the study clearly demonstrates that when used correctly, blogs and social interaction can be used to influence not just campaigns but strategy too. Any SME that monitors trends on blogs and websites should theoretically be in a much better position to plan how to market its products more productively, and determine which products are likely to generate the highest demand. With this sort of insight small businesses should then be able to create more intuitive and targeted campaigns to sell specific products.
If any further proof were needed, then you only need look to the study by Social Strategy 1, a social media business intelligence agency. The research discovered that whilst SMEs could see the value in social media marketing, the majority had neither the knowledge nor insight to make the channels work in their best interests. They couldn’t spot the full potential of the medium and how they could use this to make their businesses grow quicker. The study concluded that SMEs should be using the social media more effectively, and monitoring customer sentiment to achieve a more targeted strategy. Small businesses should be monitoring what customers like, trust and want, and also establishing what they dislike or mistrust.