Why We Need to Learn More About Social Measurement and ‘Predictive Marketing’

We’ve all heard quite a bit about measurement lately, haven’t we? The stories about next-big-thing trends in targeted marketing, real-time marketing and now “predictive marketing” tie into the thread insisting that PR needs to better prove its value with data.

That’s tough, of course—just this week we learned that shares may not be worth much of anything at all, because many of the people who “share” a given piece of content never actually “read” it.

Eileen Bernardo, marketing/communications manager at social analytics firm ViralHeat, recently told us why PR should pay attention to all these digital marketing stories.

What does the average PR need to know about trends in social analytics?

PR needs to learn which KPIs really matter…it’s no longer about the numbers provided by the networks (likes, followers, etc.). The important numbers today reflect the level of engagement an audience has with a brand or topic…comments, conversations, reviews, etc.

Shallow numbers like likes, followers, etc. only take the click of the button and do not ask for any engagement on the users end.

Is “predictive marketing” really the next big thing?

Yes. It doesn’t necessarily replace real-time marketing, but it increases the ability to identify hot prospects and leads.

Conventional marketing through monitoring/analytics solutions deliver these leads, but by the time brands act, it’s too late.

For example, when someone counts down to their moving day or wedding day on social media, companies like U-Haul or Nordstrom can reach out while there’s still time to engage.

What sort of social factors beyond like/purchasing and browsing history may be used to generate sales and leads?

Brands are turning to social media management tools with powerful monitoring capabilities that combine real-time monitoring with predictive algorithms. This allows brands to search social networks for key search terms (“moving out”, “getting married”), keywords (#movingday, #imengaged), and phrases (“I need ____”, “I want ____”).

Isn’t this the marketing department’s problem?

No, it’s a joint effort that begins with marketing. Marketing can help identify and route these leads and opportunities to the sales team.

Marketing and PR can also nurture and build a relationship that’s not ready to jump to sales.

How can brands make sure that the interactions they have with consumers on social directly influence others’ opinions and buying habits?

By making a strong, positive impression.

Word of mouth and recommendations (positive or negative) are the most trusted form of advertisement/promotion, so it’s important that brands leave a lasting, positive impression on consumers they interact with.  People love to chatter online and they usually share their honest feedback and opinions.

How can brands balance the trend toward “predictive marketing” with the increased focus on privacy in the digital world?

“Predictive marketing” in this sense does not violate a user’s privacy. Social media monitoring tools crawl public updates, tweets, messages, forums, etc. Any data that is returned is publicly available and non-intrusive.

What do we think of these trends in marketing as communications pros? What do we think of them as social media users?