Social Data – A Catalyst for Rich Customer Insights


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A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer, it is what consumers tell each other – Scott Cook, Founder, Intuit

Imagine a life without Facebook? For many it’s hard to believe. For me Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 for a whopping $1 Billion was unbelievable. “How an internet company which owns no tangible asset can be worth so much money”, I wondered.

Since the past decade much has been said about the growth of social media — its multiple channels and the enormous scope of its content and subject matter. Social media seems to offer something for everyone. With the proliferation of mobile devices, social media is available everywhere and its impact is immediate. One need look no further than the daily headlines to see that what began as an innocuous technology trend only a few short years ago has become a powerful instrument of social change.

In the business world, social media is now a powerful marketing tool that seems to find new uses and users with each passing day. It can be deployed to share news from a corporate event on a near real-time basis, or create a buzz about a great new product within minutes of its launch. Or it can be used to share the details of an unpleasant experience with customer service just as fast. For example, firms like Vibbi which have built their business helping people and corporates leverage Instagram to their advantage are an ardent example of how social data is creating newer avenues of revenue generation. They can help you succeed in today’s conversation economy.

The way customers interact with brands has drastically changed over the past few years. In the words of Forbes contributor Brian Walker, “Digitally empowered customers are firmly in charge, bouncing from channel to channel at the drop of a hat.” It is more important today than ever before to intertwine marketing efforts with sophisticated CRM tools to deliver a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint in the purchasing cycle.

Marketing Digitization – Following the Customer

Social media is re-shaping the way organizations engage their customers and nurture their relationship to brands, products and services. Here are some figures that give an idea of the scale of the social media phenomenon:

Instagram User Statistics:
• Instagram has more than 400 million monthly active users
• More than 30 billion photos have been shared
• Instagram users generate 3.5 billion likes per day
• More than 80 million photos are uploaded per day


Instagram Marketing Statistics:
• 48.8% of brands are on Instagram. By 2017, this is predicted to rise to 70.7%
• If we only look at the top 100 brands in the world, 90% have an Instagram account
• 96% of US fashion brands are on Instagram
• Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter

For marketers, a good portion of social media’s value lies in its ability to aggregate communities of interest, identify specific demographics and thus enable marketers to precisely segment and engage their audience.

Social Media – A catalyst for richer customer insight

Like any source of customer data, social media requires an understanding of a customer’s life cycle within an organization in order to establish sign posts to indicate different methods of engaging them at different points in the relationship. These sign posts act as a roadmap to help the organization knit together a comprehensive view of how a given customer’s actions are reflected in multiple purchasing channels, within the company’s functional silos, in disparate information systems and in key performance indicators.

Social media can be a catalyst to help companies achieve:

1. Influence and Intimacy – Social media amplifies the “relationship” in customer relationship management.
2. Scale and speed – Social media channels enable marketers to reach more customers faster, dynamically, and with greater precision. It can take months of planning, creative development and media purchases to launch a print ad campaign, compared to the immediacy of Twitter and Facebook campaigns.
3. Lower costs – Social media offers dramatically lower costs to precisely target and engage audiences across multiple channels, segments and locations.

Social media enable organizations to connect and engage consumers in a unique way. It provides a path to richer customer analysis, using technologies capable of funnelling and consolidating customer insights.

Transforming Insights into effective actions

Simply listening to customers on social media is not enough. Listening is a starting point. But the end goal is revenue. Those organizations best able to differentiate themselves have an ability to incorporate social media analytics into their customer and marketing automation processes, to monetize their investments and integrate insight into their customer data.

The time to act is now. Indeed, as a result of social media’s rapid growth, recent years have seen an accelerating shift in marketing spending away from traditional channels to digital channels. But this isn’t just for marketers. It must involve cross functional teams, such as IT and product teams that help the organization create relationships, build advocacy and improve loyalty — all with the goal of driving revenue and social media provides the means to do just that.

What’s your take? Chime in with your thoughts below.

Rohit Yadav
Axtria Inc
Rohit Yadav is a customer experience evangelist helping companies identify and make the best use of their key performance indicators and generate insights to improve their customer experience. Rohit is a regular writer on technology, analytics and customer centricity for various leading forums like KDnuggets, Data Science Central, CX Journey, Analytics India Magazine, and


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