Online Communities : An Absolut Solution

Among the many and varied uses for Social Media for businesses, one often overlooked option is segmentation.  Brands and agencies are constantly segmenting audiences, customers, and consumer groups for all sorts of reasons (campaign targetting, representative focus groups…) , but seldom doing the same in the online social media world.  With the right analysis of social data, however, they can identify, isolate, and influence distinct communities.
Absolut Beginnings
Absolut Vodka has a strong brand, but its parent company, Pernod Ricard, announced disappointing financial results in February and changed CEO, as the Topic Wheel, showing the themes of online conversation around the organisation, shows:
Absolut vodka
How are they doing on social media? The Absolut Brand is indeed doing well across their ‘owned’ social media accounts, with growing follower counts across their main territories on both Twitter and Instagram. Over 5k followers across Instagram and Twitter in the UK alone, and over 25k for the global @AbsolutVodka accounts, and all growing. Globally, the organic ‘buzz’ around the brand is significant, with hundreds of thousands of mentions across all the major social networks and other online sources, and a truly global coverage.
Absolut vodka
 
Absolut vodka
There’s even significant online activity where people are sharing images of the Absolut vodka without even mentioning or tagging it as such.  With Crimson’s image analytics technology, these images can be identified, and Absolut can reveal posts such as those below, linking their product to celebrity endorsement at events, and annual celebration days.
Absolut vodka Absolut Vodka
However, across all their various handles and accounts, Absolut seem to be talking a lot (with lots of promotional activity), but not necessarily  interacting much with customers, or generating huge amounts of online engagement.
Absolut vodka
By categorising a sample of posts that represent ‘organic interaction’ or ‘promotional activity’, we can quantify those elements across the whole Absolut conversation, and realise that, essentially, it could be alleged that Absolut are promoting themselves too much and not driving enough genuine customer engagement. Could they stand to do a little more listening to their audience?
Absolut Communities
The first step to achieving higher customer engagement, so important to social media strategy, is usually to understand WHO the customers are. This has traditionally been the domain of market research (directly asking consumers about themselves) or demographic profiling (and making assumptions based on customer age, gender, geographic, and income profiles).  However, by profiling each and every individual on social media in terms of their interests (because, for the first time, people are willingly volunteering this personal information through online activity), brands can get an understanding of what truly makes those people tick.  Their ‘psychographic’ interests.  And this is where Crimson’s ForSight platform truly starts to fire.
Firstly, by identifying which interests have highest affinity with the Absolut audience, we can see that Absolut is over-indexed with various things, including ‘Kids & Babies’, ‘Blogging’, Indianapolis 500’, Formula One’, ‘LGBT’, ‘R&B’, ‘Wine’, and ‘Cocktails’.
Absolut Vodka
 
Some of these interests may be surprising.  Some may be obvious.  Whatever, they can certainly be important, and highly useful.  By identifying their ‘Blogging’ interested fans and followers, Absolut has a ready made segment of people, who may be approachable as potential blogosphere word-of-mouth advocates.  The ‘Kids & Babies’ and ‘LGBT’ groups are clear communities which could be targetted, while the appearance of two forms of motor racing implies a strong correlation to that particular type of sport.
Absolut Value
Crucially, once identified, the interest segments can be isolated and exported very quickly and simply. We can isolate each group (parents, R&B fans, Cocktail lovers, LGBT community…) for further insights or direct engagement.
For even deeper insights into these communities, the specific individuals can be analysed in terms of what else they talk about, the content they share, and so on.  Below we see a ‘segment’ looking at the content shared by people interested in Formula One, user-generated-content which could easily inspire Absolut’s creative tactics.  Individuals with certain interests could even be ‘recruited’ through social media for traditional market research target groups.
Absolut vodka
And what of direct engagement?  This is, after all, the driving force behind most segmentation.  As the various communities of people with specific psychographic interests are exportable, we can of course send them truly targetted communications through social media, tailor specific content and deals to them, test out new products on that group, invite to themed events sponsored by Absolut to boost profile, and reach out in informed, and relevant, ways.
Whether these ‘communities’ of like-minded people are best for further analysis, or for direct communication (and even then, for either acquisition tactics or retention by continued focus on already-core groups) is a decision down to the brand itself.  However, the possibility to export lists of specific individuals with shared interests via the ForSight platform means that this is truly actionable insight.
Wider Applications
And this doesn’t just apply to Absolut, or indeed the alcohol / beverage industry.   The applications of being able to isolate groups of like-minded individuals through social media are many and varied.  Three examples are listed here:

  • In the entertainment industry, what about a record label identifying prolific music sharers (who share their latest musical discoveries through posts from Spotify, rdio, LastFm, Soundcloud etc), and giving them exclusive access to a new single or album release?
  • Brands dealing with a crisis or PR issue could identify people mentioning the controversy who have an associated interest with activism in some way, and communicating differently to these people than to journalists or ‘regular’ members of the public.
  • Travel companies could isolate people with an interest in different types of trip (adventure holidays, luxury, skiing, family holidays, business travel), or different destinations, to ensure content on websites, communications, and even traditional brochures is optimised for them.

There are many more ways this technology can be used.  Probably as many as there are for the more traditional segmentation methodology of demographics.  So if Absolut Vodka can start to learn the interests of their customers, and use that for their segmentation and inspiration, what could your organisation do in the same way?

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