Twitter is a treasure trove of content so rich with data that scientists are using it to predict when someone will get sick with the flu. But what value does this data mine bring to businesses and marketers? Twitter first officially addressed some of its most loyal users – brands – with the introduction of its “Promoted Tweets” feature in 2010, which allowed companies to pay for tweets to appear prominently in the timelines of their followers and users searching on specified keywords. While it was a monumental shift for the successful startup in search of a business model, it only represented a small step in tackling an essential aspect of marketing – relevance.
As Dan Berthiaume points out in his recent column, Twitter’s new “targeted tweets” feature goes a step further in offering companies relevance by allowing them to send their Promoted Tweets to specific audiences based on new dimensions – such as location, platform and device. This is an important improvement for advertisers who previously had to choose between “spraying and praying” (e.g. sending a tweet about a US-only promotion to all of their followers) or repeating their tweet multiple times to reach their target audience (e.g. tweeting time sensitive content several times to ensure that it reached various time zones). Both choices left much to be desired – and risked much to be lost; mass tweeting meant many people received irrelevant offers and repeated tweeting meant that potentially interested followers were being turned off by redundancy (and disinterested customers were being annoyed multiple times). According to Berthiaume, “Every customer is of magnified importance to an SMB, so potentially alienating customers by sending repetitive or irrelevant tweets is especially dangerous.”
Targeted tweets not only represent a key tactical avenue for marketers who are in the deployment stage of a Precision Marketing campaign, they also symbolize how social media is reacting to what we call “The Relevance Era”- and how indispensible data and analytics are in successful marketing campaigns. In addition to leveraging the immediacy of their medium, companies such as Twitter are also using the structured metadata associated with status updates such as geolocation and device information to help marketers. But what about the data that makes social media “social”? In the world of data analytics and predictive modeling, social media is considered “free-form” data – it lives outside of rating scales, checkboxes and multiple choice options and offers a unique, valuable type of information. Sentiment analysis of social media is increasingly being addressed by software (Twitter even allows users to search for positive and negative tweets) and companies such as Gaylord Entertainment effectively use social media data to monitor customer issues in real time. While metadata is useful, perhaps Twitter will also allow marketers to target users based on more abstract criteria, such as sentiment and meaning, in the future.
As tablets and mobile devices drive social media’s popularity and increase its value as a decision-making tool, and as businesses turn to social media to increase the ROI of their marketing spending, social media allows business to address almost all the steps of the Precision Marketing approach: gathering data, analyzing and modeling, deploying and measuring.
One thing is clear, whether its direct mail, email, or social media – sending out a marketing message is just a start; precisely targeting the right message to the right audience via the right channels is the most important part of the battle for hearts and minds of customers.
Read more about how companies have effectively used social media in Sandra Zoratti’s new book, Precision Marketing: Maximizing Revenue Through Relevance.
Director, Digital Collaboration & Social Media, Ricoh