March 2, 2010
The social and searchable Web offers more information about people than we could ever use. Within this stream of online data consumers are freely disclosing specific purchase preferences. Profile mining — analyzing the infinite stream of real-time activities and comments shared via social networking profiles — can help communicators initiate better conversations with customers, journalists and media influencers.
“Emotion, context and situational factors influence our choices,” says Valeria Maltoni, brand strategist and author of the Conversation Agent blog. “But marketers don’t have a good track record for handling people’s data. All too often they bombard people with ‘messages’ as soon as they have something to sell without doing their due diligence.”
Maltoni says that communicators, including PR practitioners, need to understand that what people say they want and what they actually do can differ based on emotions or even physical locations at the time of purchase.
“All too often we begin with the assumption that our product or service is already the ultimate answer to our customers’ problems without considering their unique situations,” she explains.
Profile mining gives us insight to better anticipate what people need, and to know when and where they want it. In Maltoni’s “Marketing 2010” ebook, contributor and social media strategy consultant Jason Baer says that social networking has forever shifted the balance of power from companies to customers. He says that every interaction with a customer or prospect is now a separate, fluid and potentially critical initiative.
Monitoring this specific data opens up opportunities for more meaningful and profitable relationships, yet communicators must use profile mining appropriately and creatively to achieve posiitive results.
While profile mining presents many possibilities, addressing people’s needs based on their location is one of growing interest. Geo-location tools like foursquare and Gowalla let people share their whereabouts with friends to receive recognition, earn rewards and receive offers from businesses. Users can post their “check-ins” as Twitter and Facebook status updates based on publishing and privacy settings. Twitter itself has even added a local trends feature based on user geography.
Location awareness aids marketers who want to generate business based on people’s real-time activity. Someone at a Madison Square Garden concert, for example, might check in with foursquare on his or her iPhone and receive an offer from New York City’s Hard Rock Café redeemable after the show.
PR professionals can use geo apps at industry events to drive attendance to an executive’s presentation or a launch event. Likewise, they can monitor bloggers and analysts who are checking in at different conference locations to help create meeting opportunities.
In each of these scenarios people qualify themselves, based on a published location, to receive relevant communications and potentially have conversations, provided that they engage them in a professional manner. This is equally valuable for savvy businesses and brands that you can friend with mobile social applications.
“You have to get your head around it at first,” says Baer. “But being able to be ‘friends’ with locations as well as people could be a social media game-changer.”
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