The value of social has always been reaching consumers in a unique environment where they are deeply engaged and generating a meaningful conversation between those engagers and a brand. To do this well, we have to deeply understand the passions, preferences and interests of the brand’s audience and how these affinities relate to the brand itself.
Major opportunity lies in making sense of the social data created by the billions of consumers who willingly broadcast their affinities and brand connections daily across social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. These social channels account for the planet’s largest and least biased focus group ever created. Affinity data holds the secret to how consumers want to be engaged, leading not only to better social media marketing, but a more engaged consumer across all channels.
A Giant Affirms Affinity
It is in this vein of thinking that Facebook recently launched its Audience Insights tool for advertisers, which was “designed to help marketers learn more about their target audiences.” To see the largest player in social bring forward a product aimed at better harnessing social media audience data is exciting and reaffirms what my company has already found to be true: social data, when harnessed correctly, is the most valuable source for consumer insight across any channel.
So, what can Audience Insights help marketers learn? Some highlights include:
- Understanding what demographic traits index highest for your page audience vs. the entire Facebook population
- Identifying the other pages liked most often by the audience that has liked your page
- Viewing the Personicx lifestyle categories that index highest for your brand page audience
General feedback on Audience Insights seems positive, and shows the hunger for a better understanding of what social data tells brands about their customers.
Facebook Audience Insights is a great first step for brands who want to understand their customers better through social data. Social intelligence tools exist today that allow brands to take an even greater step forward in their social data strategy by adding value in five key areas:
- Data Scope: Facebook is a large slice of the social media pie, but it isn’t the whole thing. In order to have the most accurate picture of your customers, you need to look at the data they are generating across multiple social networks while being able to differentiate the affinity connections to your brand within each social network separately. This latter part becomes increasingly important when using the data to better target marketing within each social network.
- Data Depth: It’s becoming more important that you look for and work with platforms that are founded in data science. “Page likes” are a weak signal for predicting future engagement and action. People who have actively engaged with a brand socially via sharing, commenting, retweeting etc. are the best predictor for future social action and lead to the highest ROI. If a platform provider is offering you page likes in their affinity lift scores, ask for more specifics around what other metrics they employ to prove that lift.
- Action: Data without action is like a light bulb with no switch –completely useless. Search out a platform that identifies a brand’s top affinities and easily applies those targets to social ads across Facebook and Twitter in minutes, leading to more effective social media targeting and campaign results.
- Competition: It’s great to understand how your brand’s affinities compare to the general population, but it is even more powerful to know how they compare to your competitors. By better understanding the motivations of your competitors’ most engaged customers, you can more effectively grow your own audience and increase category market share.
- Offline application: Social media has become an always-on companion that mirrors offline media consumption, especially in TV. A huge opportunity exists in utilizing social affinity data to better understand the strongest connections between your brand’s audience and specific TV elements (shows, networks, genres, actors). Using this data allows advertisers to make smarter offline media buying choices while strengthening their social buys via alignment based on brand affinity.
The market is just scratching the surface of using social data for more effective brand advertising within social media and across offline channels. Facebook’s new Audience Insights tool offers a great first step toward this opportunity, but more work needs to be done and platform providers are available today that can help. Look for partners that canshowcase the additional scope, depth, action, competition, and offline application and you’ll be prepared to take advantage of the power social data can bring to your marketing activities.
Grant Parker is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at 4C. 4C is powered by over 27 years of university research in big data science and predictive algorithms to help companies understand and use social data and connections. Grant’s previous experience includes positions with Ziff Davis, inPowered, NetShelter Technology Media and Resolution Media. Learn more at http://4cinsights.com/.