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The new frontier: From reactive to predictive social insights

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Many b-to-b organizations these days are spending time and money to listen to conversations happening about their brands. That's good, because such activities are basic and essential for any brand today. Now, it's possible to see those conversations and have some indication of whether they're positive, negative or neutral, allowing marketers to keep their finger on the pulse of what is being said socially about their brands.

Negative mentions are actually a great opportunity to engage and turn the situation from turn the situation from one of dealing with an adversary to one encouraging them to become an advocate. If you can find, respond and delight customers who have posted negative comments, that can speak volumes for your customer service. After all, customer service is the new PR, and it provides a great ROI.

Positive mentions, on the other hand, provide an opportunity for you to capture these kind words, and stream them on your website or in such other places as a blog. So think of them as a new form of the customer referral.

But after several years of reading, trafficking and routing both positive and negative mentions in my organization, I now realize there has to be more out in the social sphere than just monitoring social media.

If you think about it, there are at least two solid years of user-generated content out in the social sphere. The most recent Super Bowl represents a prime example of the sheer volume of conversations that can be created about brands, and how far advertisers will go to tap into those conversations to get some social lift for their brands.

But all of this monitoring for mentions is very reactive. I think the next frontier of social media is something much more proactive.

One of the things I can tell you from reading two years of mentions is that, if you read them closely enough, you will begin to find that your customer has some needs that are not being met. Whether a particular mention is directed at your brand or some other brand's product or service in your space, it tends to talk about an individual's wants and desires, providing insight into actions you might take in the future.

The problem is, you always have to be listening to find such comments—and Boolean searches won't help since you won't know what to search for. The very act of searching presupposes you know something of what you are looking for.

You need a way to objectively mine social conversations to help “preinform” your marketing spending. What kind of insights will help here? Some include gaining knowledge of what the market really wants from vendors in your space, where adjacent markets that you can move into are, what content really resonates with your audience and where to place your advertising dollars so they provide the greatest reach.

There is a vast sea of unstructured social data about everything you can imagine out there that can be used to help preinform your decision-making in marketing. That's the challenge facing marketers today. Are you ready for the next frontier?

Paul Dunay is CMO of social media analytics company Networked Insights (networkedinsights.com).He can be reached at paul@pauldunay.com.

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