Social Media Mining – Capture The Future

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2015 , Published on 17 August 2012

‘Your brand is not what you say but what they say’! This dictum clearly indicates a shift in the world order of branding that was earlier defined only by the sellers. Not anymore! Today the ‘they’- consumers, play a much bigger role in making a brand distinct or extinct. As the world shrinks technologically and our informational ecology expands, every consumer has become a source of information and his/her information serves as a resource for another consumer in need of that valuable information. Social media is at the centre of this information revolution.

All of us understand that social media and web space provide us with huge amount of data but have we really tapped the true potential of the data on offer? No, however, the progress is well and truly on and there is huge amount of effort and money being invested in deciphering the data by organizations across various domains. For example, a US based design company, has invested huge amount of money in facebook just for its advertisements.Now these advertisements are positioned by facebook on user pages based on the browsing patterns of the users. Isn’t it fantastic to know that brands can also be positioned in the minds of the consumers in such a novel way? Welcome to the world of social media!

How do you figure out on your future plan of action based on Social Media? It is by listening to the conversations and being aware of what is happening in the consumer space on different social media platforms. This is where Social Media Mining plays a role. By definition, ‘Social media mining’ is a process that involves extracting data from data mines, processing the data and finally creating the required information knowledge.Social media mining has come a long way from the time when it was mistakenly used by organizations only to market their already popular brands.

Today, organizations focus on social media mining to understand the needs of the consumer and have started recognizing social media mining as yet another means to gain invaluable insights. To elaborate, today organizations use the findings of social media mining across various verticals – advertising, sales, marketing, customer service, product development, e-commerce/Retail and risk management to cater to the target segment.

A brief overview on the social media mining’s significance in the verticals stated above..,

  • Advertising – right ad, right person, right time, right place
  • Sales - identify prospects, build rapport, before they make their short list
  • Marketing – measure effectiveness of marketing messages and promotions
  • Customer Service – build loyalty by quickly addressing customer questions , spot cries for help
  • Product development – identify new feature and function requests
  • E-commerce/Retail – identify actionable leads with intent to buy, identify key issues and interest purchasing drivers.
  • Risk Management – identify potential fraud, protect intellectual property

To give a specific example, consider that Samsung is looking at launching a smart phone in a particular market similar to that of what its competitor launched a quarter ago. Social media mining would be able to track all conversations related to the competitor’s product - features that the consumers felt would have added value to their purchase and filter the negative attributes. This would act as input to Samsung, which in turn would add all the bells and whistles to the existing model before releasing it in the market. Samsung precisely gets to offer what the customer wants and it is very likely that this product would be a winner. From the above example we clearly understand the significant role of social media mining from an organizations perspective. But the question remains as to what really happens within the mining process?

Speaking to one of the architects of Serendio Inc, an organization which specializes in providing social media intelligence, gave enough insights on how a raw data is converted in to useful and actionable information. Harvesting data is the easiest stage in the mining process. The harvested data is next passed through taxonomic mining (intelligence built to pick the required data)stage. The taxonomy is built by words, functionalities and attributes that are unique to a domain.

The drawback in this stage is that the mining tool would not be able to distinguish between a positive and a negative attribute. For example, if the review states that the particular mobile device has a greater battery life (positive attribute) and a greater charging time (negative attribute), the mining tool when fed with an input to pick data based on the word ‘greater’ captures both the positive and the negative attributes of the mobile device. In order to differentiate such attributes, the third step in mining process involves capturing sentiments based on the richness of words used. A negative emotion is graded -1, a positive emotion is graded +1 and neutral is given a 0. Based on the end result, the knowledge base is built as required by the organizations.

There are many examples around us that have already started using the data available from the social media successfully. Here success is not only about making profits by launching the right products but also avoiding possible failures and scrapping the deals that do not yield the required returns. For example, one of the banks was in a dilemma to change or drop one of its personal loan schemes. They analysed the feedback given by its customers on its loan schemes across various social media sites and found out that the bank did not enjoy a good feedback response from its customers. In addition it had gained lot of bad publicity in personal loans scheme among its customers. They understood that it would be tough selling if they go ahead and hold the scheme. Rightly, the scheme was dropped.

As our information ecology keeps growing, social media mining is going to gain more and more prominence and this cannot be ignored. This would provide real insights and not just numbers. There is a great deal of latent power and value that exists in the data, which ideally would be the insights your organization needs to make the right decisions.  In addition, it is very important for corporations to keep track of the social media conversations and be a part of it – to respond as well as to influence the brand perception in the minds of consumers.

This article has been authored by Krishnan Chidambaram from Greatlakes Institute of Management.



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