You might yawn at some of the Facebook notifications that could range from a friend’s gripe about a famous restaurant that she went to, recommendations for a make-up product, criticism about lack of amenities at a touristy location to political views. These ramblings and rants may seem inane but when captured on a substantial scale can prove to be a gold mine of information and provide a much needed shot in the arm of data miners. It is within these conversations that lie deep customer insights.
Hundreds of thousand people talking about a particular colour can highlight nascent colour trends and give cosmetics to apparel to automakers a pointer for a new colour variant. Accordingly, products & services companies could add a version or create an entire line depending on the trend potential. Likewise, the issues highlighted by single women traveller on Facebook, Twitter or other online platforms can give tour operators, hospitality sector and even insurance companies to tap this growing segment with customized offerings.
Companies across the world and in India too, are increasingly tapping on to these conversations and using this data to gain strategic business advantage. Early adopters including, but not limited to, Subway, Toyota, Airtel, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, Coffee Day, Star TV, Mahindra Retail, and ITC Foods are analysing and putting the chatter to use so that they can outdo competitors.
The need for mining conversations has given rise to a bevy of firms which help companies mine, analyse and use the data for shape their strategies. Also, access to historical data from social platforms has made it possible for social media specialists to gather intelligence and build a case. Startups such as DataSift, Unmetric, Simplify360, and Drizzlin are sifting through millions of bits of information to deliver actionable insights to their clients.
So, what are the key things that companies are using conversations on social media platforms for?
- To ensure money is being spent where the mouth is.
- To shape entry strategies in new markets.
- To better understand the target audience, consumer behaviour and preferences. In short, to understand what customers want.
- To address consumer grievances and manage reputation.
- To better communicate and engage with their consumers/users.
- To spot trends and identify top influencers.
- To forge live relationships with audience, manage company reputation.
- To make the brand more engaging and enduring to consumers.
It’s still early days for conversation mining. The future will see more focussed and formal approaches to mine social media chatter. Companies that are clued in will obviously have a lead over late adopters.