MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Monetizing Social Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 23, 2013

Everywhere we turn there is news about social media. Whether it is the rise of a new social network, an "old" social network going public, the business model for social networks or the ROI an organization can achieve from using a social network. It is perhaps this last point that is the most critical for companies adopting social media as a means of connecting, communicating and engaging with their customers. Nowhere is this more challenging than in the B2B space. However, perhaps the challenge is not in using traditional online metrics of success such as click thrus or consumer social media metrics such as follows. I would argue that the ROI comes from the value of the data now available and how that data is turned into strategies or tactics that deliver measurable results.

I attended Datasift's Social Data Week Conference in New York last Friday. As you can guess from the name, it was all about Social Data. After all, this is Datasift's business. They provide the platform that discovers, aggregates and presents data found in social networks. My key takeaways reinforced some thoughts that had been bubbling since I began work with a new client, TrueVoice, several months ago.

1. Context is King.  Yes, we still need great content. But, the key to monetizing social media comes from understanding the context in which your customers are updating or sharing content online. Are their comments in response to a problem with your product or service, have they been delighted by their interaction with your company or are they sharing your content with others. Or, have they been influenced by another customer, industry thought leader, or peer?

2. Data is a challenge. Capturing, aggregating, analyzing, translating and optimizing social data presents challenges in terms of human resource as well as budget dollars. There are many platforms to monitor and present data. They can provide a lot of insight, if they are programmed effectively. By this, I mean the act of establishing keywords and a series of modifiers that collect the data you really want and that filter out the "dirty" data. Imagine you are Hewlett-Packard (my business alma mater). Most of us know that HP is their accepted name for every day use. However, hp can also stand for horse-power or the steak sauce. I'm sure the social media strategists at HP have invested a significant amount of time establishing the filters to eliminate irrelevant data in their social media monitoring efforts.  Assuming your business has the right resources to filter the data, are they also the right resources to interpret and activate a program using the data? Again, if so, you have answers that will help your business achieve its goal.  

4. Data is an answer. It's not the only answer, but it provides a better understanding of your customer base that other market research techniques. It reveals passion and intention in how individuals post and make updates. In pursuing social data, organizations must not only focus on the tools to capture the data, they must believe that they will discover something relevant. Something relevant doesn't always mean data that supports existing theories, it could be data that uncovers a new opportunity.

The key to incorporating social data into your strategies lies in trusting the wisdom of your customers. When they are social, they are authentic, immediate and transparent. We already know that the opinions of our peers and business colleagues ranks highest when making buying decisions. Why not leverage those same opinions when figuring out how to monetize social media for your business. Monetization does not have to be a direct correlation. The value of social data is in how it is utilized as part of a greater business strategy. It can help validate, redirect, uncover or optimize your strategies for sales, marketing, innovation or support - and these are the dominant areas driving revenue in any business.

What's your perspective?