By Matthew Klein

November 10th, 2015

Most brands have the ability to access a massive amount of social data. The real challenge? Using it to generate concrete business results.

If anyone knows exactly what brands can do to turn social data into a truly valuable asset it’s Twitter’s Courtney Gough—she works directly with brands and partners to help them get the most out of their data.

Marissa O’Connor of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes is also an expert on the subject, having used social data to improve fan loyalty and increase revenues herself.

Courtney and Marissa joined Falcon Social for our recent webinar to discuss strategies for driving growth through data—offering their insights and experience, and sharing examples of what works from brands like T-Mobile and GM.

Start by listening smart

The foundation of a results-driven social data strategy is listening. To get started, Courtney recommends diving into three initial sets of data:

Social data best practices

These three key sets of insights present huge opportunities for business growth. Courtney said that for companies working with Twitter, she saw three main ways of using this type of data to drive value.

The first, which has seen the most broad adoption, is using social data as a brand health check. By listening to your brand name across the widest possible range of channels, a high-level view of people’s opinion of your brand comes into focus. Analyzing the sentiment of what they are saying makes the picture even clearer.

Brands can also use this data as the basis for more effective customer service. According to Courtney, this happens both reactively (brands engage with customers directly based on what they’ve said) and proactively (by analyzing social data, brands can make adjustments to serve customers better in advance).

Finally, Twitter sees strategically advanced companies that are able to combine social data with other data and insights from across their organizations. By doing so, these companies can create better customer experiences and generate efficiencies that grow revenue.

Here are some examples of how exactly brands put these principles into practices and used social data to make an impact on their bottom line.

T-Mobile—Fewer dropped contracts

As Courtney said on our webinar: “Before T-mobile offered the iPhone, they were experiencing higher than normal levels of churn.”

They were losing customers fast, and they had no way of telling which ones were on the brink of falling off next.

Through social media monitoring, they were able to identify customers who were sending signals that they were likely to switch carriers. By engaging with them directly, and aligning with their CRM to prioritize the ones who had contracts up for renewal, the company was able to reduce churn by 50% in just 90 days.

GM—Data identifies issues early

One way that General Motors used its social data was particularly intriguing to Courtney and her team at Twitter.

GM listens in to its customers across social and the web—and in 2014, found some interesting trends, as noted in AdWeek’s “Here’s How GM Uses Social Data to Improve Cars.” Customers who bought the latest Chevy Silverado in the southern United States were taking to social media to complain about the metal steering wheels. When drivers climbed into cars that had been sitting in the hot, southern sun, they burned their hands on the driving wheel.

GM decided to make a three-point turn: the company halted production on the model and reworked the steering wheel’s design. 


"We are becoming more precise. We can resolve [issues] really quickly instead of waiting for a survey to come back."

Whitney Drake

GM's lead for social media care

When buyers of the Cadillac Escalade began to complain about a flawed ventilation system heating the seat in front of it, Drake’s team fed the information to the engineering team. The company was able to correct the models within just a few weeks.

Using social listening to identify these type of issues has several advantages. The biggest is speed—traditional channels for post-release product feedback, such as customer surveys, can take exponentially longer than social listening data. That extra time translates to a greater number of dissatisfied customers, and cutting it translates to higher retention.

The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes–Fan relationships & season ticket sales

Marissa O’Connor from the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes had several examples of how she uses social data for maximum impact.

For a sports team, there’s only one thing more essential than a great roster—loyal fans.

Building stronger relationships with fans is essential to the long term health—and bottom line—of the Coyote brand.

The Coyotes social team answers every fan on social and across the web, even on questions about where to find the gluten free beer in the arena.

The Coyotes have relied on social data more than ever recently. Before the start of the current NHL season, there was a lot of uncertainty around the Coyote’s future. Rumors about the team’s stadium wanting to end their lease swelled into rumors that the team might leave the city or the state.

Because the Coyotes rely so much on the loyalty of their fans, they turned to social listening to check the pulse of their fan base. When they realized that the rumors were flying and the morale of their most enthusiastic supporters was at risk, they decided to address the issue head on. The team owner engaged their fans on social and at in-person town halls to assure them that the team was loyal to Phoenix.

And it paid off—Marissa said that the team saw an uptick in season ticket sales that year, amidst all the uncertainty, thanks in large part to their social strategy.

What’s next?

More and more, the challenge with social data, all data even, is not collecting it in sufficient quantity. It’s figuring out how use it—how to put in into the most valuable form, analyze it, extract insights from it and act on it.

Moving forward, starting from the three initial sets of data mentioned above—brand, competitor, and industry monitoring—what kind of action will you need to take to drive the strongest results? Twitter recommends segmenting your audience down to an individual level—using all this social data to define your customer down to the person, across channels. With this complete view, your business will become more relevant, in real-time, to your audience, and unlock whole new opportunities for revenue growth.

For social data more insights from Twitter, watch the recording of our webinar with Courtney Gough and Marissa O’Connor below.

Data strategy insights direct from Twitter:

Watch the recording of Falcon’s webinar with Twitter & the Arizona Coyotes and learn how to use social data better

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