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Social Media And Dashboards

by Lyndsay Wise, President, WiseAnalyticsMonday, March 07, 2011

Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook...organizations are looking at how to leverage the large amounts of data being generated by these social media sites.  Consumers choose products and services based on customer reviews via online conversations, looking at brand, quality, availability, and price. This new type of consumerism means that companies which only use “traditional” marketing strategies will end up lagging behind their competition. Organizations that struggle with identifying the success of traditional marketing campaigns now grapple with expanding their marketing initiatives to take into account social networking and analytic concepts.

Dashboards and business intelligence provide the basis for increased information visibility and performance management, and using analytical dashboards and BI to gain insight into what is happening within the social media arena is an obvious next step. Many businesses are now looking at their current dashboard use as a starting point to gather information and monitor chatter being leveraged within these online social media channels. Alternatively, other organizations are examining newer offerings that provide data streaming of online mentions and numbers of views from social networking sites, and then integrating that information with Web analytics to create a full picture of online visibility and customer sentiment.

This article looks at how the role and value of marketing within companies is slowly shifting.  In addition to using dashboards that provide accurate assessments of marketing success or failure, the shift in marketing focus towards more interactive forms of audience communication will require new ways of looking at marketing activities and measuring their performance. Because this realm is still in its infancy, few solution providers offer out of the box dashboards designed to integrate this functionality.  Also, adoption of marketing analytics that look at these areas is small as many marketers still struggle with the identification of value related to traditional marketing campaigns. As this market matures, organizations will be better poised to take advantage of social media dashboards to merge social network analysis, customer sentiment, and traditional marketing analytics to develop a single view of marketing success and how that translates into sales for a business. 

Social Marketing

Many businesses now use social media channels to market their products or to monitor chatter with the thought process being that greater visibility will lead to increased sales.  However, understanding the correlation between online presence and lead generation is not as simple as integrating Twitter use within marketing departments or setting up a Facebook page. The ability to transform online presence into marketing success requires a certain amount of trial and error mixed with a way to monitor progress of each initiative and find correlations between activity and performance. Although many organizations have found a certain level of sales and marketing success by managing performance through dashboard use, the expansion towards social network analysis may not be a natural extension. As companies are required to look outside the box to increase the success of their marketing initiatives, the information they require and way in which they dissect data changes. This creates an environment where to be successful, marketing staff need to take a step back and look at marketing from a new and fresh perspective.

Data volume expansion and instant access to information creates benefits and challenges for both marketers and consumers.  Whether B2B or B2C, marketers have the challenge of getting their message out to their audience in a market that is consistently bombarded with mixed messages and misinformation.  The world of business intelligence provides a good example.  Organizations looking for solutions can be hard pressed to identify what dashboard will best fit their environment because of the sheer number of solutions, multiple deployment methods, licensing models, value added services, and features and functionality provided. The same holds true for marketers looking at successfully marketing their products and services to an online audience.  Varying demographics approach social media in different ways meaning that targeted campaigns may differ.  The ability to monitor multiple campaigns within many social networking channels requires the integration of disparate data sets and a way to consolidate data that provides a good view of how marketing initiatives relate to actual sales success.

Dashboard Design and Social Media Analysis

With an understanding of the challenges marketers face, analytics dashboards enable marketers to justify spending and planned marketing campaigns.  With the expansion of information use and ways to reach audiences, marketers require broader tools to ensure the continued success of their initiatives. This is where well designed social media analysis dashboards come into play.  Not only do they help identify what is happening online in relation to social networking, but they help integrate multiple marketing data touchpoints to provide a broader view of marketing activity.

Because solution providers are developing targeted dashboards for marketing applications, more organizations will be able to take advantage of what BI provides out of the box and integrate broader marketing related analytics.  With a combination of both, organizations can begin to understand ways by which the use of these channels can help increase sales, branding, and overall visibility.

Value of Social Marketing Analysis

The reality is that many businesses are still at a loss when it comes to monetizing their involvement with social media.  Are online tweets or setting up a group on LinkedIn enough to drive increased sales? With more companies moving towards these channels, how does an organization create a value add for their audience?  To get value out of social network channels, businesses need to identify how to translate online visibility with action.  This could mean increasing advertisements in relation to events, sales, promotions, etc. and tying these initiatives to actions that consumers can take that link online initiatives with traditional marketing campaigns.
The potential benefits from social media involvement are great, providing organizations tie marketing initiatives to practical outcomes. How this is done may differ among companies and success is still untested, as being able to monetize social network activity is still dubious within most businesses. Consequently, to explore these activities, organizations require flexibility and the ability to think outside of the box to take advantage of social network analysis with the realization that many campaigns combining traditional and dynamic sources will be the work of trial and error. If metrics are managed successfully, businesses will be able to tie online presence and the use of social networking to marketing campaign success.

About the Author

Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.


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