Social media metrics: Using big data and social media to improve retail customer experience

Retail Writer

Social data provides a wealth of information to retailers, but are they taking advantage of the opportunities that social media metrics offer? Many are not. For any retail business with a digital or physical storefront, there's no reason to stay away from social media. A recent study from Yes Lifecycle Marketing, reported by GlobeNewswire, found that 91 percent of retailers are present on two or more social channels.

Social data: Looking beyond the fancy numbers

Most companies nurture a flawed notion of using social media for business. They set up pages on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and start counting the likes, shares, tweets and +1s. Impressive as these numbers seem to be, these vanity metrics fail to provide details relating to marketing campaigns, including sales, new customers and revenue generation.

The right data sets can open doors to customer intelligence, insights on new trends and market needs. U.K. retail giant Argos uses social data to glean real-time insights on store performance, customer experience and brand reputation. "Using social insights, we can understand which stores are performing well for retail customers and identify areas for improvement," Argos' customer and digital insight manager James Finch said in a recent interview.

How social data drives consumer experience

Businesses often struggle to use social data to its maximum potential when it is collected in a very unstructured manner, which is difficult to apply to the big data puzzle. It's impossible to mine meaningful information from these huge, seemingly unrelated, data sets without a strategy. The popular obsession with "shiny" vanity metrics plays out time and time again. Despite all this, a sea of valuable customer data is available to all who are willing to invest a little time, money and effort into finding it. Here are a few ways that retailers can use the right data to drive the consumer experience:

  • what customers want before they ask for it. Social media has emerged as a platform where people reveal a lot about their personal tastes, preferences, likes and dislikes, whether they know it or not. The pages they like, or the posts they share, lead to a better understanding of a buyer's persona. Companies use this information and cookie-based ad retargeting to put products or service recommendations into social feed and in front of the eyes of individual consumers most likely to buy.
  • Fix customer issues when they occur. Analyzing consumers' posts or interacting with them on social media can help brands detect and solve their problems on a real-time basis. The resolution time is shorter because the data is right in front of the customer service representative. The individual attention helps increase the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Social media is becoming one of the quickest ways consumers can get answers to their questions, and most brands now understand the value of having a social media manager at the ready to address questions or concerns.
  • Discover and resolve customer pain points. Big data allows companies to spot and address common or recurring customer complaints by collecting and analyzing numerous posts and tweets over a period of time. For example, Delta Air Lines learned that lost luggage was one of their customers' biggest complaints. By digging through its data, Delta offered a solution to its passengers with the "Track My Bag" feature on its application. This clever use of social data put Delta ahead of its competitors.

Customers value positive experiences and rapid response times now more than ever. Social media and big data analytics fuel the tools that help companies fulfill customers' expectations.

Anticipate consumers' needs to personalize their experience and grow your revenue. Visit our IBM Retail Industry Solutions Page to connect with analytics professionals.