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SAN FRANCISCO -- Most companies grasp the value of evangelizing products and services on social media channels. Being able to tap into the emotion and sentiment customers display on social media isn't as easy as it looks, however -- but it is the golden ticket for marketers and advertisers.
Part of the challenge, especially for large organizations, is monitoring multiple Twitter handles and Facebook pages, with a bevy of social media channels and thousands of posts on top of that. Harvesting and analyzing all this sentiment -- a practice called social media mapping -- can be complicated.
"Social analytics tend to be a little bit of a black box," said Alex Stein, director of marketing and social media analytics at Marriott International Inc., based in Bethesda, Md. "Thinking about Marriott, between our three loyalty brands and thousands of hotels, we're quickly amassing more than 12,000 social media accounts to measure."
Maura Tuohy Di Muro, head of global social strategy at Mozilla Corp., based in Mountain View, Calif., explained, "Social media is a behavior, not a channel. It allows us to get into the psyche, into why people share and what they share."
Both Tuohy Di Muro and Stein were speaking at this week's Digital Strategy Innovation Summit. In separate sessions, both speakers underlined the importance of social media and social media mapping.
Companies are investing, too. Salesforce recently released new image recognition technology that can be used to understand sentiment in images posted on Twitter. Companies have long sought ways to gauge consumer sentiment, and social media is becoming one of the main outlets for customers to express why they bought what they did.
"We can use social media channels to understand a lot about our consumers beyond just advertising or marketing," Tuohy Di Muro said. "All of these networks have given us a new outlet for something that has already existed in our personalities."
Where to look and what to look for on social media
Alex Steindirector of marketing and social media analytics at Marriott
Stein outlined three channels to look at when engaging in social media mapping: channels you own, such as your audience and content; social influencers and trending conversations; and what he called "social commerce," including referral traffic.
"It's about what you want to measure in social media and what you want to learn about your customers," Stein said. "Couple this with how brands are trying to interact with customers ... it's more about one-on-one personal marketing."
But companies implementing social media mapping need to be aware that different departments may be monitoring different aspects of social media.
"One complicating factor could be the organization itself," Stein said. "Social teams, PR, digital and marketing -- they need to speak to each other, or at least get these data sources in the same place to get that 360[-degree] view of the customer."
Tools to help with social media mapping
To better understand what customers were saying, Stein said he uses social media mapping to track awareness, consideration, conversion and loyalty aggregated across the various sites where mentions occur.
"We wanted to understand how customers were interacting with our brand, rather than where they were interacting," Stein said.
To help measure awareness, Stein said he looks for reach and conversation trends using tools like NetBase, Brandwatch or IBM Watson. To track consideration, he said he looks for engagement and mentions using software like Sprinklr, Crimson Hexagon and Simply Measured. For conversion, Stein said he tracks social bookings with tools from Adobe and Google; and for loyalty, he said he looks at brand advocacy on social media with tools from Salesforce, Traackr and InfoTrellis.
"When it comes to social media and brand interactions, it's not a matter of if [it matters], it's when," Stein said. "It impacts every part of the consumer decision journey."
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