Hidden in Plain Sight: Social Data to Tailored Experience

Posted on November 11th 2012

Hidden in Plain Sight: Social Data to Tailored Experience

Lemmen - image credit WikipediaWhat does social media and social data have to do with art? I was recently in an art gallery with an impressive collection of well-known pointillism works that challenged my understanding of the way we appreciate art.  Right or wrong, I was taught to first appreciate a painting from a distance, and then get increasingly closer to understand the nuances of the technique – right down to the individual brush strokes and subtleties of adjacent colors.  But I found that this approach – while perhaps ideal when applied to certain painting styles - failed me here.  The closer I got to a pointillist piece, the more I realized a closer prospective wasn’t giving me MORE information about the subject – it was telling me a DIFFERENT story entirely.   Instead of a painting about a peaceful French countryside, it was a painting of seemingly random (some say crazy or angry) dots and dashes colliding on a canvas. Every dot was different from the others – with its own unique story and message.

This experience is how I explain social media in the context of 360 degrees of customer engagement.  To be successful in understanding the customer universe, you need to understand the unique individual customer – at that moment in time (the unique dots and dashes in the artwork) as well as the larger population of your customers over a larger duration of time (the French countryside).  Both tell an equally important – but different story.

Leveraging social media allows us to better segment, analyze and understand the “individual dots” - a single mother, living in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood, shopping at the local organic grocery store who is demonstrating brand loyalty to a specific brand of canned soup product for the 20th time this year, always using coupons, and concerned about always recycling her cans - as well as the larger picture: a sharp decline in sales of our canned soup sales across the Pacific North West because of pricing pressure from non-organic competitors.

With a Social Media-enhanced 360 view of the customer, these two different markets (the market of one, and the market of the Pacific North West) – where one exists in the universe of the other – we can enrich of view of every customer to understand what motivates their shopping behaviors. Think for a moment about the information telegraphed by consumers across public social media channels and you’ll immediately understand the potential.  New product suggestions: Tomato Basil soup!  Different packaging attributions - biodegradable packaging vs. recyclable steel!  Different motivators: “loyal shopper” coupons vs. “Try Organic and discover the difference” sampling events.

The reality is that applying the layer of demographic and psychographic information made available to enterprise social media consumers can yield astounding strategic benefits.  But too few of us apply it to its potential.  Too few understand that a CRM system that isn’t augmented by this data falls short on its promise.  Too few understand that a customer service department that doesn’t understand these behavioral differences runs the risk of treating every customer the same (that usually means a race to the bottom for the customer experience).

The promise of a 360 degree view is a promise to develop and mature your understanding and support of every one of your customers – improving the relationship for both of you. Just as the dots and dashes, fine brush or palette knife aggregate paint into a beautiful work of art, the promise of a tailored experience no longer overshadows the attainable benefits.


Craig Downing

Director, SAP

Craig is Director, Global Cloud Marketing for SAP

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Posted on November 12th 2012 at 7:37PM

Hi Craig,

Love this post! Small details and broad view combine to give a complete view of brand perception and guides how a company can maximize social media to increase customer satisfaction.