So if you shouldn’t use social data to measure brand impact, what is it good for?
Lots of things. Whether you or your company works directly with social media or not, you should be using social data right now to:
Develop your messaging. If you want to create messages that resonate with your audience, you need to know what it cares about. For instance, companies are using private listening communities to craft their marketing messages. And increasingly, companies are using data from public social media as an additional marketing guide.
Source your creative. We know that consumers trust what they hear from other consumers more than any other source of information. So why not use listening platforms to identify positive social content that can be included in campaign creative?
Improve your media plan. You probably already have a few staples in your online media plan — the sites and networks that consistently perform for you. But social data can help you find new sites to add to your buy. For instance, when Microsoft found that people were talking about its computers in forums dedicated to fishing and cars, it quickly added those sites to its plan.
Identify your key influencers. According to our studies, consumers in the U.S. create more than 500 billion peer-to-peer impressions about brands and products per year. Social data can help you identify (and then reach out to) the most vocal and influential of those consumers, either individually or by finding the forums in which your brand will have the most influence.
React to your consumers. You can’t fuel a positive conversation about your products (or get involved in a negative one) unless you find those conversations first. Listening platforms can help you quickly find both the good and the bad so you’re in a position to react.
The key here is to successfully build social data into marketing programs – and not to use it, like most companies, as a tool to measure those programs.