It’s Time to Democratize Social Data Insights

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ErrolIn this special guest feature, Errol Apostolopoulos, Senior Vice President of Product at Crimson Hexagon, makes the case for when data is democratized or distributed across the enterprise, greater transparency ensues, leading to better business decisions across the board. Errol leads product strategy, design, execution and innovation at Crimson Hexagon. Previously, he successfully brought separate early-stage SaaS products to market, including a social/mobile advertising platform (Moontoast merged with Spendsetter) and an e-commerce innovation platform (Optaros acquired by MRM/McCann). In addition, Errol was a general manager at Razorfish. He has a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and attended a leadership program at Harvard Business School.

Social media data is no longer just for marketers and advertisers; it’s changing how companies make decisions across all business functions. From HR to services to product teams, every department has something to learn from the conversations consumers have on social media. Big data insights can transform these departments, leading to both new ideas and transparency that enable operational and innovative strategies throughout the enterprise.

If your marketing department is monopolizing your social data, consider how you might use consumer insights to fix a broken process you’ve long been ignoring – such as hiring, customer service or product development. Some of the country’s leading brands (and probably some of your competitors) are already way ahead of you.

Data-driven job interviews identify the best candidates

Commercial airlines don’t have it easy. If customers feel frustrated about elements beyond the support team’s control – such as flight delays, lost luggage and limited legroom – they sometimes take to social media to complain. There, one customer’s negative sentiment has the potential to evolve and unfortunately cement a company’s reputation. Airline workers need to be crisis control and customer service experts as much as they need the technical skills that qualify them for industry jobs.

In order to proactively thwart negative sentiments about the airline industry on social media, JetBlue’s hiring team approached the problem at the ground level. The company created a personality test for new candidates, first consulting a detailed analysis of social media feedback from its own customers and its competitors’ alike. From those insights, JetBlue identified key qualities that empowered workers to help improve customer experiences. After the test became a standard part of the interview process, JetBlue found its new employees were 20 percent more likely to encourage customers to share positive opinions about the airline on social media – no small feat when you consider how rarely an experience is good enough to warrant social praise, especially when it takes place in a crowded airport. Just by listening to its industry’s end users and making responsive changes to a fundamental part of the company’s operations, JetBlue was able to increase customer satisfaction and turn a new wave of users into word-of-mouth marketers.

Stuck on your next product idea? Turn to social insights

Introducing a new product can expand your brand into new markets and help reach new customers – as long as your audience already wants what you’re going to offer. Tone-deaf product launches have killed companies bigger than yours in the past, and will continue until the end of time (or until every company starts listening to consumers).

When Chobani conducted a brand audit in 2014, the company found that its social fans were four times more interested in parenting and three times more interested in being a mother than the average Twitter user. Fans also associated the brand with a healthy diet and lifestyle – 16 percent of consumers used the yogurt as a pre- or post-workout food, and consumers discussing Chobani were two times more interested in fitness and running than Twitter’s general population.

With these markets in mind, Chobani seized an opportunity to create products specifically for its already-loyal fans: Chobani Oats, a granola product meant for adding to yogurt, and Chobani Tots/Kids, specialized product lines for “tots” six months and up and kids two years and older. As campaigns designed to spread awareness and promote sales of each new product took hold, the company saw its social presence grow and positive social sentiments expand. Due to the campaigns’ successes, the company updated its product and announcement roadmap to continue a focus on healthcare and products for parents of young children.

The concept of using big data across the enterprise isn’t anything new. However, it needs to advance beyond just something individual departments use. When development, product, HR and other teams routinely integrate data from new sources and locations, social media can go from a small facet of marketing to a valuable boardroom asset. Democratizing data enables your entire company to collaborate and share the success of resulting projects. Meanwhile, making social insights part of your overall big data strategy gives your brand the chance to innovate constantly and evolve as your audience does.


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