Use Search To Extract Value From Social Media

Written by on February 12, 2013 in Search Management Strategies - No comments

Social media is a goldmine of data. But the vast majority of this data is unstructured, which creates a number of challenges when it comes to extracting actionable insight from this mountain of data. Businesses are struggling to:

a)  Process and organize this data,
b)  Make it searchable and easy to interrogate for analysis and knowledge discovery
c)  Aggregate and categorize it so that it can generate reports that are of business value.

We are now experiencing a paradigm shift that intersects the realms of search and social. While many businesses are beginning to understand how search and social media can work together to boost SEO and drive web traffic, they still don’t fully understand the benefits of leveraging social media to: retain web visitors, boost customer experience and, most importantly, increase sales.

Using Social Media to Drive Sales

Customers are 71 per cent more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. This is why it is so imperative that businesses make the effort to understand what people are saying about their products and services online.

According to a report provided by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), companies that fully embrace social engagement are experiencing four times greater business impact than less engaged companies.

The same report found 80 per cent of companies now believe their brands get more sales using social media. The question is, how?


How Search and Social Work Together

Combining search and social is beneficial both to the business and the customer. Social search impacts buying decisions, builds new relationships between buyer and seller, and drives web traffic.

While search is primarily used to identify a list of purchase options, social media recommendations are used to validate these decisions. Customers are using social media to search for product or service reviews. And they’re paying attention to what their friends and family are saying about your brand.

But sometimes this information can be nearly impossible to find. Twitter users send more than 15,000 tweets per second. Every 60 seconds on Facebook there are 510,000 posted comments. So how does a company search for this unstructured data and what do they do with the data once they find it?

Product owners and brand managers are now looking for new ways to “crawl” social sites so they can “be in the know” of hot topics and leverage this data to create increased value for customers.

For example, if a company releases a new brand of product, (iPhone, Blackberry, BMW, Dishwasher or whatever it may be). Consumers on various social media sites will be talking about these products and expressing sentiments, raise questions and make suggestions.

Sophisticated search technology analytics, such as those offered by Cloud Search Portal can be used to crawl a desired set of social websites and to identify and extract overall trends and sentiments about a given brand.

This information can be used in a number of ways. Let’s examine the benefits from both internal and external perspectives.


Internal Benefits

Once social crawlers pull this unstructured data – including tagged images, PDF files, and comments – from social media sites, the information can then be mined and used in a way that is beneficial to the company’s marketing strategy. This unstructured data offers insight into how customers perceive the product, or how they are using the service. By applying this information internally to structure new marketing campaigns, companies can focus on addressing fluctuating customer sentiments that drive demands.


External Benefits

There are a number of ways businesses can transform this data externally to benefit both the customer and the company. As mentioned above, today’s consumers often rely on social media referrals when making purchasing decisions. Why not create a summary of public facing positive social endorsements of your brand? By sharing this knowledge with prospective buyers right on your website, you’re retaining web visitors.  You’re also boosting customer experience by providing all the answers to their search queries right on your site. And by avoiding a customer redirect to another website or even to a call center for support, you’re increasing the chance of making a sale.

Now that you understand how search and social can be intertwined to create business value, what changes will you be making to enhance your social search strategy? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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