It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No matter how cliché it sounds, people around the world are happily anticipating the holiday season, doing all sorts of preparation, mostly financially, to make this season the most joyous ever.
Social media plays a crucial role in that preparation stage for consumers and businesses alike. Consumers use social media to look for gifts that they can give their loved ones and friends. Others took to social media to drop hints of what they want to receive for Christmas.
Businesses take advantage of social media to advertise their products and services, an upcoming price markdown (SALE), and other promotions as well. Check out the figures that we have gathered below and find out how consumers and businesses are utilizing social media during the holidays.
(Source: Forrester Research)
(Source: Forrester Research )
(Source: Web Marketing Pros )
Now that you have seen the statistics revealing how social media influenced the buying behaviour of users, as a marketer, what do you make of the data collected through your social media dashboards? Do you know that such figures generated from your analytics, also known as social data, are instrumental in identifying trends, finding out what your competitors are up to, and deciphering the real meaning of conversations surrounding your brand?
If you are a marketer who is overwhelmed with the wealth of information that your respective social media analytics provides, let this comprehensive resource help you out.
Chapter I: Why Social Data is Important
Social data used to be undervalued in a way that it was considered as just part of a marketing report, a gauge of how a campaign has performed during a particular period.
Eventually, marketers have learned to dig deeper and recognize the many possibilities of how they can use the data gathered from their social media analytics. Let’s take a closer look at how social data is used for trend spotting, competitor research, and consumer sentiment analysis.
- Spotting Trends in Real-time
Social media plays an essential part in the formulation of trends, as conversations on different topics involving brands, personalities, and technologies happen on social media each minute.Using a social listening tool to sift through the data generated from these social activities, businesses can identify developing trends surrounding their own brand, its community, and the industry to which they belong to in real-time. They will discover issues that concern their brand and act on them before they get out of hand.Social data would make marketers aware of an emerging fad and determine how their brand can ride on its popularity.BrandWatch, a developer of smart software solutions that help marketers make sense of their social data, shared that marketers should start by searching for keywords involving relevant hashtags, industry phrases, thought leaders, competitors, celebrities, and the like to identify a trend. Such keywords will enable you to discover emerging patterns and developing discussions about your brand.The ability to perceive trends with the help of social data will allow marketers to create campaigns that are currently relevant to their community and their potential market. They cannot rely solely on data gathered from last year to formulate a campaign for Christmas 2015. They have to be aware of what matters to their target market and align their objectives accordingly.
- Gain Competitor Insight
To gain insights on what competing brands are doing and succeeding at, marketers need to know who their competitors are.In her article at Kissmetrics, Shayla Price, an expert in digital marketing, law, and social responsibility, classified competitors into three categories:
- Direct or traditional competitors
- Businesses from a different sector but have the same audience as yours
- Businesses that cater to a different audience but employ a content strategy similar to yours
Knowing the competition will enable you to pull out data about them from your preferred social listening tools. Using the same metrics, you can do a side-by-side of your brand’s social data with those about the competition. You will find out the keywords that they use and bid on, the influencers advocating their brand and the sentiment of consumers about their products or services.
- Consumer Sentiment Analysis
Social listening tools are capable of capturing the true sentiments concerning a brand. When customers are highly satisfied with a product or service, they are quick to post about their experience on social media. The same platform serves as their avenue to vent out their frustrations about a product or a lousy service.Social data about the latter are especially useful for businesses enabling them to connect with the consumer and address the issue in real-time. Consumer sentiments are also an excellent source of positive feedback and discovering brand champions. Using the voice of the customer in your marketing campaign for the holidays will usher potential consumers into the buying stage.As illustrated in the Bazaarvoice 2013 Holiday Guide to Social, Boden UK features reviews from real customers to help consumers with their shopping decisions. Also, through social data analysis, Cabela’s was able to discover a product that does not perform well to their older demographic. The brand was able to tweak that product for it to be more appealing to the affected demographic.
Chapter II: Valuable Ways to Use Social Data this Holiday
Given the importance of social data, how can marketers effectively integrate it into their holiday campaign? Here are suggestions on how to get the best out social data to come up with a holiday-themed campaign.
- Create Messages That Matter
Change is inevitable in this world, and there are a lot of factors that affect preferences. For sure, people don’t want to receive the same gift that they got last year. Some might prefer experiential gifts rather than tangible goods.It is best to tap into your social data and look for keywords that pertain to what your community values at the moment. Doing so will help you create a holiday campaign with a message that your audience can relate to.
- Incorporate Consumer Sentiment
As mentioned before, positive feedback from previous customers helps generate new ones. Dig into your analytics for social data that denote customer satisfaction and use them in your upcoming Christmas campaign.It will also help you find brand advocates, who are more likely to have a loyal following on social media, whom you can partner with in your upcoming holiday promotions. Featuring reviews are especially helpful for people who are looking to purchase big ticket items.Analysing social data will also lead you to complaints or subtle criticisms about your brand and prompt you to act on pain points that may make your holiday campaign successful.
- Discover New Channels
Looking into your social data will help you find untapped channels that you have yet to explore. This will be very useful in expanding your reach and acquiring new customers.Through this technique, Microsoft was able to discover that people are talking about its products on non-tech-related forums, specifically cars and fishing. Since then, Microsoft included those channels to its marketing plan.
Chapter III. How to Analyze Your Competitors Using Social Data
It wouldn’t hurt to check how your competitors are going about their own holiday campaigns. Competitor analysis is an integral part of any type of marketing campaign. It’s not just about spying on your rival but it is one of the ways you can gauge your own efforts. As a marketer, observing what the competition is doing that contributes to their success will help you evaluate your marketing plan and make the necessary adjustments. You can examine what your competitors are doing with their own communities and get an idea of their strategies by looking at social data coming from Facebook and Twitter, the two most popular social media platforms. There are free competitive analysis tools that will help you sort out data generated from these two platforms. Read on to know more about them.
Competitive Analysis on Twitter
With Twitter you can easily perform a competitor analysis without using an external tool. Here are easy steps that will help you out.
- Make a list of keywords which include the name of the competing brand, their products or services, name of executives and employees who are actively tweeting about their company and their current offerings as well as the hashtags that they have been circulating. SocialTimes suggests on collecting 10-20 keywords and take away or add more from your list as you go on.
- One at a time, input a keyword on the on the “Search Twitter” field found on the upper right corner of the page. Save the resulting search by clicking on “More options” and selecting “Save this search” from the dropdown list so you will have a reference and check it for updates from time to time.
- To get more refined results, you may use the Twitter Advanced Search feature. With this capability, you can include or exclude terms, hashtags, users, locations, and select the language. One cool element of the advanced search is that you have option to pull up tweets that are positive and negative, questions, and even retweets.
- You may also create and save lists on Twitter. A Twitter list is collection of users that you have put together, for example, Twitter handles of your competitors, which you can set to private or public so others can subscribe to it, too. If you are creating a Twitter list of your competitors, it is better to set it on private, so your rivals wouldn’t know that you are spying on them on Twitter.
- Analyze the results from the keyword searches that you have performed. Identify the keywords that your competitors have been using and observe the number of retweets, the number of responses each tweet receives, and how people respond to them. Compare it to how your own followers respond to the same keywords, the amount of interaction around your tweets, as well as the sentiments surrounding them.
- Should you want to get more results, you may want to try Twitter-related tools that you may access for free such as Simply Measured Twitter Follower Tool and TweetReach
Analysing Competition via Facebook
Facebook remains to be the top social media platform for marketers and countless of brands can attest to the advantages and profitability that they reap from this social network. To find out what your competitors are doing to thrive on Facebook, especially during the holidays when visits and conversions shoot up, you need to pull up social data that attributed to their respective fan pages. The good thing is that there are Facebook competitor analysis tools that you can try out for free until you find the one that suits your preferences. The Social Media Examiner recommends AgoraPulse Barometer, LikeAlyzer and Fanpage Karma among others. With these tools, you can compare your statistics with that of the other brands. Here are notable segments that you may look into using the tools:
- Fans reached – followers who have seen each post
- People talking about – fans who liked, commented, and shared a post
- Negative feedback –instances when fans hid your post from their feeds or reported it as spam
- Viral reach – users, aside from fans, who have seen a post
- Clickthrough rate – when users clicked on the photo, watched the video, or listened to the audio attached to the post
- Organic reach – the combination of fans and other users who have seen a post
There are more segments that you can look into and some are unique to one tool. Take advantage of them and make the best out of analysing you competitor’s tactic and improving on yours. Ensure that your brand and its products make it on top of your consumers’ Christmas list.
Chapter IV: Tips and Ideas for Your Social Media Holiday Campaign
‘Tis the season to be jolly! It will be a win-win situation for both businesses and consumers if they can align their goals and aspirations with that of each other.
Marketers must optimize their Q4 campaigns to meet the holiday demands of the buying public. Simply Measured, a provider of social analytics solutions, gives us a glimpse of the essentials of an effective social media holiday campaign.
- Check out Last Year’s Data
Before you draft your holiday campaign, see the statistics from the previous year to get an overview of what worked and what didn’t. Find out how the market responded to last year’s holiday campaign; which product category gained an increase in sales; and which day had a record-breaking sale.Last year’s data will be instrumental in creating an optimized holiday campaign, focus on channels where your market spends the most time, and tweak on lacklustre product categories.
- Get Acquainted with Your Target Personas
Social media gathers people from all demographics. Which one can best relate to your brand? Social data can give you an answer. It will provide you a wealth of information about your target market’s age bracket, gender, socio-economic status, geographic location, and level of engagement, to name a few.Use all these information to come up with a holiday campaign that suits the needs and preferences of your target demographic.
- Know What Worked for Your Competitors
Let your vast resource of social data clue you into what worked for your competitors during the last holiday. Evaluate and take them into consideration as you whip up a holiday campaign for your customers. If it’s a great price markdown or a new product, make sure that your brand can be competitive enough to keep your loyal customers and acquire new ones.
- Build Suspense
The only way to build suspense is to start early on in your game. In 2013, Crate and Barrel was able to tease its Twitter followers about its Christmas offering as early as October.The brand employed the countdown method and built hype about its upcoming offering but was still able to maintain its relevance before the anticipated season by incorporating non-holiday tweets.
Find out what’s currently relevant to your target market. Identify your most influential followers and discover the topics that matter to them. Identify the top keywords that your followers keep on using in their conversations.All these will help you customise your holiday campaign and make it more relevant to your social audience.
- Test Before You Implement
Nothing beats an A/B testing before executing your campaign in full force. It pays to be cautious and meticulous in this day and age of social sharing. You surely don’t want to antagonize your brand to the buying public and bear the stigma of the business who made a big booboo.Holidays is the season of positivism and everything nice, so make sure that your brand will get on the good side.
- Invest in Social Ads
Your brand needs to be present in all channels where your audience engage in. Social ads will undoubtedly complement your organic campaign, so you must allocate sufficient budget for it. It must be part of your holiday campaign and not just part of your contingency.
- Follow Up
Business does not end after Christmas. To keep your customers, especially the ones that you have acquired over the holidays, make an effort to ask them about their recent experience with your brand. Encourage them to provide feedback through your social account and eventually forge a better customer experience through that platform.
Chapter V: Social Sentiment Analysis Tools to Track the Success of Your Holiday Campaign
Sentiment Analysis, also known as quality metrics, are indicative of the opinions, feelings, satisfaction ratings, the quality of shares, comments, retweets, replies, ratings or conversations, as well as the quality of engagement that a brand receives on social channels over a period.
Here are social tools will help you understand the buzz that surround your holiday campaign
- Sentiment 140
Used to be called Twitter Sentiment, Sentiment 140 is a very simple tool that helps marketers uncover the real opinion concerning brands, products, and a variety of topics on Twitter. You just need to log on using your account, as Twitter authenticates all searches made on the platform.
- Social Mention
Social Mention is another nifty tool that provides real-time social media search and analysis. It measures the strength, passion, sentiment, and reach of the searched keyword.
One of the most trusted tools in the world of social media, Hootsuite allows marketers to manage their social media accounts, listen to these channels, look into their analytics, and collaborate with their team—all in one dashboard. This free tool has a paid enterprise version that offers more capabilities.
UberVu is a tool offered by the Hootsuite Enterprise package. It claims to provide richer social listening by tapping on millions of news sites, blogs, and other public spaces in 50 million languages to uncover conversations, trends, and sentiments involving your brand.
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics has a social component for tracking your social initiatives. Under the Acquisition section, the Social component lets you identify which social networks drove traffic to your website, measure the value of social of specified goals, and measure on-site user engagement.
- Google Alerts
Google Alerts lets marketers monitor the web for mentions on your specified keywords. This tool yields quality results for designated keywords and delivers them to your mailbox at your convenience.
- Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights offers simple analytics for monitoring activity on the fan pages that you manage. It digs deeper beyond the engagement that each of your posts receives.
A paid social media intelligence platform, Meltwater listens, understands, engage, and benchmark relevant social data on your behalf.
A media monitoring tool, Mention pulls up statistics about a brand’s popularity among blogs, social media, and other websites. It offers sentiment analysis for users who will subscribe on their Growth, Company, and Enterprise packages.
- Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a premium tool that monitors brand keywords, aids in customer engagement, and tracks and measures your brand’s social performance.
Social data offers plenty of opportunities for a holiday campaign to be successful. Marketers must be aware of its significance in spotting trends, gaining insights about competitors, and analysing consumer sentiments.
It is only when they can utilise social data to create campaigns that contain messages that matter and encourage brand confidence by using consumer opinions. Social data will also be useful in discovering new channels that users go to during the holidays.
For a social media holiday campaign to be effective and well-received, marketers must observe best practices beginning from the conceptualization up to the completion of the holiday campaign. There are plenty of free and paid tools available so marketers can monitor their campaign and gain insights in real-time.
Businesses may also enlist the help of third-party companies, such as Infinit Datum, to assist them in initiating a social media analysis and a host of other digital research solutions for their brand.