Finding Truth in Social Media

Feature Article | April 18, 2013 by Susan Galer

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

According to a study released by NetBase and J.D. Power and Associates, businesses rank “learning about new products” and “general information” as the top reasons for customer visits to their social sites. Yet the same study revealed customers are actually in search of discounts and the ability to purchase products and services.

With 92% of companies using social media, (73% of Fortune 500 companies have Facebook fan pages), this disconnect suggests a massive waste of social media resources, not to mention a legion of frustrated customers. The field and practice of social media intelligence has emerged to help close this gap.

Insights from structured and unstructured data impact decisions across the value chain

Knowing your customers across social channels including how they feel about your brand or any topic, what’s working, and what’s not is game changing says Lisa Joy Rosner, Chief Marketing Officer of NetBase. NetBase has partnered with SAP to develop SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase, a solution companies can use to better understand their customers’ opinions expressed in social media. This industrial-strength social intelligence solution instantly gathers and processes billions of online conversations where people share their passions – every place from Facebook and Twitter posts to in-depth discussions in blogs and niche forums.

“The partnership with SAP is a natural fit. Together, we help brands connect the dots between social media buzz and business intelligence that’s connected to operational business processes,” says Rosner.

SAP Social Media Analytics collects and runs conversations – unstructured data – through a series of Natural Language Processing (NLP) filters, then combines it with structured data from the customer’s SAP software, including customer relationship management, supply chain management, and finance. The resultant analysis helps companies understand how consumers are talking about and using their brands and campaigns. With this insight they can make course corrections, stay ahead of the competition, innovate new products, and address customer problems before they spiral out of control.

Next page: SAP uses social media analytics to identify new communities

Madhur Aggarwal, vice president and head of marketing strategy at SAP, links social engagement directly to growth. “The combination of SAP and NetBase allows companies to uncover deep insights across a broad set of audiences – from current customers and prospects to market influencers – not only for effective marketing campaigns and forecasting, but also product innovations and enhanced customer experience across the value chain, leading ultimately to increased sales and customer satisfaction,” he explains.

SAP uses SAP Social Media Analytics to create its Global Social Media Brand Monitoring Report. “With this data, we can understand what themes are driving conversations, where the conversations are taking place, and who the most influential thought leaders are. It helps us improve content positioning, identify new communities to engage in, and build relationships with people who impact our market,” says Brian Rice, Director of Global Social Media Strategic Services at SAP.

Easy-to-use tool powers better campaigns, customer intimacy, and SAP brand health

Previously people had struggled with an external tool that proved too complex for everyday users, and returned non-relevant, low-quality data from news aggregators that required time-consuming manual filtering and analysis. “This new solution is not only easy to use for anyone, but also provides a richer set of quality data we can trust because it’s based on trustworthy sentiment analysis,” says Rice.

Another benefit, says Rice, is the solution’s multiple language capability; teams worldwide use it to monitor and engage in conversations with customers in Latin America (Spanish and Portuguese), Japan, Europe (Italian, French, Dutch, and German), and the United States.

Next page: Why B2B needs to get in the social media game

SAP also relies on the solution to monitor and respond to market conversations relevant to SAP HANA, the company’s in-memory computing solution. When the HANA Social Media Solution Report revealed customers needed to hear more than the original value proposition around speed, the company began sharing different uses cases that showcased business outcomes. After seeing all the questions customers had about the solution, SAP set up an online community where people now help each other.

While numerous consumer-facing companies have embraced social, many others in the business-to-business sector have made it a lower priority. Aggarwal advises companies to begin with support from a senior executive who can be the evangelist, then pilot use cases before asking for significant resources.

Use pilots to make a business case for social

“Just because you may not have quantified return on investment doesn’t mean there’s no business case for social. Share a few symbolic wins to prove the model works before you seek a large investment to create a Center of Excellence.”

Image:

This infographic summarizes the study findings.

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