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Making ‘Socialytics’ An Integral Part Of Retail Operations

  • Written by Alicia Fiorletta

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Optimizing social media is a top priority for retailers seeking the most effective strategies to connect with tech-savvy shoppers. While blogs are emerging as a compelling way to educate consumers on brands and products, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are leading in overall investment, according to research from IDC Retail Insights.

IDC Retail Insights’ 2012 U.S. Social Media Trends by Vertical study revealed that 60.3% of retailers’ social media budgets are focused on social networking. To glean greater insight on the wants and needs of loyal and prospective shoppers, retailers are leveraging social media analytics, or “socialytics,” a term coined by IDC.

In its report titled Business Strategy: Socialytics — Enabling the Social Business of Retail, IDC Retail Insights shares best practices and tactical approaches to help retailers harness the power of social media.

“Retailers need to have a deep understanding of how socialytics can help them make a broad range of decisions that extend well beyond brand management, traditional and digital marketing, and personalized communication,” Greg Girard, Program Director of Merchandising Strategies and Retail Analytics for IDC Retail Insights, told Retail TouchPoints. “A process must be implemented, which allows them to harvest data and understand customer concerns by tuning themselves into relevant sites. From there, they can apply social feedback to relevant business decisions that need to be made.”

Socialytics Methodologies
To optimize socialytics, IDC Retail Insights offered a typology of socialytics methodologies, including:

1. Text Analytics, to determine what is being said across social sites, and how often.

2. Social Data Analytics, which allows retailers to quantify how often individuals are visiting retailers’ social sites, the traffic source, what is being said, and the data or resources being accessed.

3. Social Relationship Analytics, offering information about how much revenue is generated from interactions taking place via social sites.    

 4. Social Collaboration Analytics, to reveal how information flows within specific networks and to pinpoint influential groups and individuals.

 
“Progressing [from text analytics to social collaboration analytics] increasingly sophisticated insight into concerns such as tone and intensity of sentiments, topic trending, individuals’ influence and the strength of communities,” Girard explained in the IDC Retail Insights report. “The data objects of each type's analysis accumulate from the agnostic approach of text analytics through three data types that represent increasingly critical social forces of enterprise concern — matters that impact, negatively or positively, a retailer's social capital.”

Closing The Loop With Inbound Social Data
The concept of socialytics still is fairly new. In fact, most retailers are still developing their social strategies around outbound tactics, such as developing optimal messaging and engagement strategies for specific consumers and their peers, Girard explained. However, “retailers must understand that there’s an inbound side of social media, such as unaided consumer feedback” he explained. “Analytics are applied to close the loop and bring social media feedback and data into the decision-management framework of a particular process, and make it valuable to the context of a merchant.”

Best-in-class retailers are harvesting, organizing and analyzing content across internal sources, including social networks, emails, call logs, online chat transcripts and Voice of the Customer programs. These retailers are using this content to better measure and report on trends, such as sentiment on inventory pricing and product development. By converting socialytics signals into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), merchants can better track and respond to specific inquiries or feedback, said Girard, and in turn improve overall decision-making.

Implementing socialytics arms retailers with the granular information to make better decisions in the following areas:

·      Brand management and marketing;

·      Merchandising;

·      Fulfillment; and 

·      Commerce strategies.

However, the key to optimizing socialytics is determining the best personalization strategies that don’t hit on the “creepiness factor,” Girard advised. “Retailers have to exercise caution yet remain relevant and helpful to consumers.”