4 Ways Online Consumer Insights Can Boost Your Brand

From analyzing competitors to using images for deeper understanding

This post originally appeared in Mobile Marketer.

Consumer insights derived from social media have drawn the attention of marketers and analysts across just about every industry and product category. Even B2B companies use online consumer insights to finetune offerings for their B2C clients. But how can brands use these consumer insights to actually influence their bottom line?
In this post, we’ll look at four examples of how the consumer insights generated by social media can deliver measurable business value.

Refining Personas

Surveys and other traditional research methods such as focus groups are incredibly expensive to set up and run, while returning relatively little data. Focus groups also have an inherent peer pressure bias, while people often lie on surveys or abandon them before completion.

But as we’ve pointed out in earlier blogs, social media offers a 24x7x365 focus group. By sheer volume and variety, it can reveal nuances in consumer behavior and attitude that a solicited approach can’t match.

Marketers can use these nuances to refine personas or create new ones. In some cases, creating a new persona presents an opportunity to launch a new product or campaign.

Think about athletic apparel, brands like Nike, Under Armour or Adidas. Beyond how consumers might talk about shoes and other types of apparel, these brands can learn how people talk about health, wellness and physical activity in general. Consumer insights help companies understand why people buy certain products and not others — and why people may buy the same product for different reasons.

Setting Campaign Benchmarks

If a marketer or analyst is coming to a social media analytics platform, they’re often using social media not just to listen to what consumers are saying but to respond to them as well.

With a historical library of past social media conversations, companies can fine tune benchmarks for new product or service releases, and the marketing and advertising that supports them. For example, Fox uses consumer insights to figure out its ad spend for shows. They also eliminate guesswork when creating campaigns and measuring impact. When Anheuser-Busch launched a new hard root beer, it used social media-generated consumer insights to measure success.

These insights can also help decisions about what kind of launch will be most effective — major media blitz, hashtag, or influencer outreach.

Using Images to Deepen Understanding

Every day, three billion photos are shared on social media. There are more than 800 million hours of video on YouTube. And camera-enabled smartphones have slashed the barrier to entry in terms of communicating via images.

Humans are a visual species. We process images many times faster than words. Images even affect how we process information. In 2003, a Harvard student worked with a South African bank, sending 50,000 letters with offers for short-term loans. The letters varied the interest rate and included other psychologically-influential cues. It turned out that adding a picture of a happy female to the letter had as much positive impact on the response rate as dropping the interest rate by four percentage points!

So, what does all this have to do with consumer insights? Quite a bit. In fact, many companies are using it already.

Using a combination of text and image analytics, companies can find text and visual mentions of a brand, pinpointing when negative emotions like disgust or sadness are associated with it. Image analytics can also improve campaign planning by helping analysts and marketers better understand moments of consumption.

Here are eight ways that consumer insights driven by image analytics are in use today.

  1. Spot co-occurring brands in conversations and filter to identify high growth opportunities
  2. Find purchase triggers such as graduations, weddings, births, and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs
  3. Reveal new markets and uses for products
  4. Discover how consumers “customize” their use of a product like yogurt
  5. Monitor market penetration at sponsorship venues (stadiums, arenas, race tracks, etc.) compared with competitors
  6. Manage threats such as the appearance of a brand in protests and demonstrations
  7. Track the success of product launches across multi-language regions through visual rather than text mentions
  8. Launch user-generated content campaigns that show a brand in a positive light

Consumer Insights: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

The reach and depth of social media-generated consumer insights will only increase as the AI technology that mines them improves. As a recent article in Wired noted, the neural networks that power a lot of developing AI have only a few million “neurons” compared with around 100 billion in the human brain. And a 100 or more trillionsynapses. But just think of what the AI we’re using now can already do.

For more on how to leverage consumer insights for better business decisions, read our guide today.

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