The Importance of data for growing and driving small business social media

Social media marketing has emerged as one of the essential marketing strategies for small business. With consumers getting younger, more comfortable with technology and more savvy about the marketing and promotional efforts of companies, small businesses have had to adapt. Social media works by organically creating communities of like-minded users to share content and virally – and subtly – promote specific products, services and agendas. However, can any small business really be sure that social media marketing even works?

Therein lies the importance of gathering, tracking, measuring, and analyzing data, especially when attempting to grow and drive your small business’ social media efforts. Social media is such a nebulous force that is constantly evolving, making it difficult for marketers to know just how efficacious their campaigns have been. It is no longer sufficient for companies to simply throw a significant portion of their marketing budgets at a vast social media campaign. Without monitoring the return on investment (ROI) of the campaign, these small businesses won’t be able to tweak and improve their efforts. By being more efficient with social media, companies will satisfy not only their customers but also their bottom lines.

According to Daily Deal Media, one of the keys to social media is the concept of predictive social commerce. The goal of many companies is to attempt to predict what customers are looking for in terms of products and services from their favorite brands. With so many consumers taking to the internet for many of their shopping, purchasing, information-gathering and debating activities, it is imperative for small businesses to meet them on this new battlefield. Companies can safely rely on internet habits as a prime indicator of what consumers want, based on what they are searching for in their Google searches, what types of hashtags they are using to drive their Twitter conversations, and what kind of content they are sharing with their unique Facebook communities.

Collecting a vast amount of data based on the aforementioned interactions – search engine queries, social media conversations – can really paint a clear picture of what type of customer a small business has and, perhaps more importantly, what these customers want. Once that data has been collated and properly analyzed, companies can then direct user-specific offers that should lead to substantial spikes in overall conversation rates. For instance, if a user has mentioned one of your lowest-selling products in multiple different social media conversations and channels, a subtle promotion of that product could lead to a viral movement that sees increased sales in that product.

Social media could also do much of the legwork for you and your small business, especially in terms of viral marketing. When your brand’s most avid fans talk about your company, that subsequent chatter is likely to be shared and expanded throughout that fan’s own semi-private online community. These fans that are kicking off and leading the conversations about your brand should be the most heavily-targeted and highly-valued fans. It would be impossible to pinpoint these particular fans without the use of data. However, once the numbers have been assessed, it would be easy to figure out just who specifically is generating the most chatter about your brand and what kinds of conversations are they having.

As a caveat, the best use of data requires a lot more than simply gathering raw numbers. There is a great deal of analysis that has to occur on the backend, perhaps leading you to outsource this assignment to a specialist in advanced quantitative analytics. Additionally, industry experts have noted that simply looking at raw data and believing that the numbers tell the whole story is likely a fallacy. The best use of analytics often combines the data with ascribing some kind of narrative, developed through a combination of intuition and the simple eye test. If your initial gut instincts are supported by the numbers, those are the types of findings that you should be relying most staunchly upon.

Finally, one of the most important advantages of using data to improve your social media marketing strategies for small business is simply in gaining an edge on your competitors. According to Daily Deal Media, less than 30 percent of organizations are presently measuring their social media ROI, while of those that do, only a scant 35 percent are happy with their results. QuestionPro notes that a recent Forrester survey suggests 42 percent of survey respondents planned to further integrate their social media data, while 36 percent plan to start altogether. With a relatively nascent pool of small businesses actually tracking their social media data and ROI at the moment, gaining any kind of head start could prove to be substantial.

How has your small business worked with data in terms of social media marketing?

Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.