How Social Conversation Can Help You Discover Your Brand’s Next Great Campaign

In a customer-centric world, social insights are the key to creating effective media partnerships, blog posts, commercials and more, says columnist John Donnelly III.

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Read any article about how the marketing landscape is changing, and you’re bound to find a common theme: The customer is at the heart of it. Mass advertising and campaign marketing are out. Today, the best marketers are the ones who authentically engage with customers and help them achieve their goals.

Of course, putting the customer at the center of the marketing operation means that brands must possess a deep understanding of who that customer is and what makes him or her tick. The challenge that many brands face is how to obtain that information.

Many turn to focus groups. Others use surveys. Some look at the keywords that consumers use to describe themselves in social profiles.

These can all be useful tactics for gaining a sense of who your customers are and what they care about, but there’s also a danger in these techniques. Surveys, focus groups and social bios all depend on information that the customer is self-reporting.

Much has been written by social scientists about the perils of self-reporting, including the challenges of introspection, subjective rating scales and participants’ desire to control their image. Think about your Twitter bio. Does that 140-character blurb really capture the spectrum of your interests, priorities and online behavior?

While a Twitter bio only provides a limited, controlled view into a customer’s life, that consumer’s broader activity on social media can actually tell you quite a bit about what she cares about and what topics she’s interested in.

What content does she share on Facebook? Who does she follow on Twitter, and what conversations are those people partaking in? Which Tumblr blogs does she frequent? Taken together, answers to questions like these can give brands a much more organic picture of what their customers truly care about.

Once you know what your audience cares about — what TV shows they watch, what causes they support, which magazines they read and who influences them — the next question is what to actually do with that information. Here are a few possibilities to help you get started.

“Putting the customer at the center of the marketing operation means that brands must possess a deep understanding of what makes their audience tick. The challenge that many brands face is how to obtain that information.”

Change Up Your Keyword Strategy

There are several tools available that help brands identify keywords to use for social and online advertisements. Few of these are as powerful as going straight to your customers’ conversations.

Use insights about your audiences’ interests on social to help you uncover and test new keywords that reflect the niche topics they care about. Not only will this help boost your click-through rates, it will also enable you to deliver information to audiences that is actually relevant to their interests, which helps contribute to an overall positive customer experience.

Alert The Content Team

Great inbound content attracts audiences by speaking directly to their needs. Of course, any content marketer knows it can be challenging to continuously think up new content ideas that will resonate with the brand’s target market. Tapping into audience conversation on social can be an excellent cure for that writer’s block.

For example, an analysis of fans of “America’s Got Talent” shows there’s a significant overlap between those who are interested in the TV show and enthusiasts of hip-hop. If you work on “America’s Got Talent’s” marketing team, this simple insight could inspire a slew of video, blog and Instagram content — think “A History of Hip-Hop,” #TBT posts, hip-hop choreography clips or “The Top 10 Hip-Hop Songs of the ’90s.”

Identify Media Partnerships

Strategic media partnerships are one of the best ways to connect your customers with your message. Social media data can help you discover partnership possibilities that may have previously been unexpected.

For example, social content strategy firm Socialtyze (disclosure: Socialtyze is a Crimson Hexagon client) analyzed the social behavior and interest areas of fans of a new slapstick comedy, and found that this audience had an overwhelming interest in indie music. With that insight in mind, Socialtyze could pursue highly effective partnerships that may have previously been considered pointless.

The fact is that marketers today absolutely must possess a laser-focused understanding of their brand’s customers. Most CMOs know that. The question now is how brands will continue to get more precise in developing that understanding, and then what they’ll do with those insights once they have them.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

As senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Crimson Hexagon, John Donnelly III is responsible for all go-to-market operations across marketing, sales and business development. Donnelly brings over 20 years of experience in the technology industry to Crimson, and has managed companies from start-up to over $700M in annual revenues.

(Some images used under license from


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