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How To Use Social Media Analysis To Outperform Your Rivals

Thursday, 13 June 2013.

How To Use Social Media Analysis To Outperform Your Rivals

Billions of conversations take place each day online, with many discussing businesses and their products. Here Richard May, from leading social media monitoring and analysis tool Spotter, explains how all businesses can use online information to stay ahead of the competition and give consumers exactly what they want...

Word of mouth has changed

It used to be that when people enjoyed a company or its products they’d tell a friend and if they had a bad experience they would tell a lot of friends, but these days to a large degree this is a thing of the past. Now, tech-savvy consumers regularly take to the internet to share their views through social media, review sites and their own specialist blogs. Businesses have never had less control over what is said and shared about them, meaning there is greater transparency and nowhere for companies to hide.

However, this prospect needn’t scare business owners as it presents a huge opportunity. If you can track, collect and analyse the tidal wave of online information, it holds a goldmine of customer data that can help companies stay ahead of their competitors and grow their market share. So how can businesses use online analysis to their advantage? There are a number of ways.

Understand your image and industry position

Firstly, no business can improve its image without knowing what its image is. By tracking the online comments alongside the sentiment with which these comments are made and how influential the commentator is, a business can develop a robust understanding of its image. A firm that understands its brand image and reputation can identify where it sits in public opinion in comparison to its rivals. Over time monitoring brand reputation and customer satisfaction can act as a key performance indicator and provides companies with a benchmark from which to grow.

Understanding where your competitors fit

Similarly, by understanding what is being said about your competitors you can learn from their successes as well as their mistakes, pre-empting areas where customer dissatisfaction may occur and taking advantage of situations where you could win favour. For example, if your competitor has a similar product to you but terrible customer service you may wish to put additional emphasis on your relative customer service strengths and tailor your marketing to highlight this. Simply put, find out where your competitors are failing to satisfy and tell that dissatisfied audience directly how you can offer a better product or service to help your business stay one step ahead of the game.

Know where the buzz is

Another area of competitive advantage can be gained by firms who understand where the conversations about their industry are taking place. Gone are the days where companies were only discussed in the trade press, with most consumers gleaning information from a wide range of sources before making a purchase.

By analysing where people are discussing your product or industry gives you a greater opportunity to get involved in the conversation and interact directly with those who are likely to buy your product or use your service. It’s important for companies to monitor multiple channels in order to have a clear picture of the industry and conversations around it, which is why we analyse so much more than just social media, including blogs, forums, news and review sites.

In addition, to get a fully global picture of what your customers are saying, you should combine your internal customer data with that collected from external sources, incorporating data from customer emails, feedback forms and CRM system to analyse separately or alongside social media and online data.

Learn how to delight your customer

Understanding consumers expectations is also a valuable benefit of strong online data analysis, as by knowing what is expected of your company you can put strategic plans in place to over-deliver and delight your customers, rather than just satisfying them like your competitors. For instance, if a customer expects a product to be delivered in five days – the way your competitor does – and you deliver in two, guess who is going to be getting their repeat business.

Learn who really has industry influence

By assessing whose comments hold most weight in your industry you can identify key influencers and bid to turn them into brand ambassadors. It can often be surprising that those with the most influence in an industry may actually differ significantly from popular opinion.

Influencer identification has been a strong topic for some time now, however we fully believe that ‘out of the box’ solutions that advise who are influential within a given industry merely skim the surface. As a company you must determine who is truly influential in your arena, relating to your products or services, something which can only be realised through a tailored influencer scoring system. This may mean that once you’ve identified the key influencers you can reach the correct people whilst your competitors may just continue to talk to the same people who have traditionally been influential but in fact have very little power.

Learn from your competitors mistakes

One of the biggest advantages of online analysis is that because the vast majority of the information is available publically you are able to analyse the impact of your competitors decisions - for example a new marketing campaign - to see what the response was, what worked well and what failed. They pay the money and you get valuable information that you can then use to maximise the effectiveness of your own business decisions. Of course, your competitors could do the same and this is where ensuring you have the best possible analysis tools comes into play to ensure you have better, multiple channel monitoring with advanced analytics providing you with more innovative data.

Summary

Online analysis is not something which is exclusive to big firms and any company regardless of size will benefit from understanding what is being said about them, their products or services and their industry online. In business, knowledge is power and by gathering detailed, relevant information about your industry, competitors and clients enable your business to stand a greater chance of outperforming your competitors - saving money by learning from their mistakes – in the process.

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