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Consider these social media statistics and their implications for big data for marketing: Every day, there are 500 million tweets, over 1.8 billion photos and videos shared on social media and 6,586,013,574 searches conducted online. Every minute on Facebook, 510,000 comments, 136,000 photos and 293,000 status updates are posted. And five-hundred million people use LinkedInAdd website traffic and buying habits, and you have "big data."

 

Why is big data important for marketers? According to Reputation Defender, companies who use data to significantly inform their marketing and sales decisions tend to increase their marketing return on investment by as much as fifteen to twenty percent.

 

There are so many data points relevant to brands that we've entered what's been dubbed the reputation economy. "In the reputation economy," according to InData Labs, "businesses are judged by how well they treat customers and what customers say about them. Social [w]eb is becoming a sort of social credit score for businesses." Data affects nearly every aspect of businesses, from employee recruitment, sales and media coverage to regulatory issues, government contracts and access to capital.

 

All that data reveals nuances about individual stakeholder groups and industries, including their values, interests and buying patterns. But a random Yelp review is not the same as a thoughtful article in major media, for example, so it makes sense to weight each one based on their specific value.

A new definition of "stakeholders"

The definition of "stakeholders" has expanded to include industry groups, nonprofits, labor unions, bloggers, media personalities and community groups. Big data for marketing means more effective tracking, as well as engaging with stakeholders individually and collectively.

 

It's also important to be face-to-face, though, because there are important voices offline, as Nicole Ferrini, Chief Resilience Officer for El Paso, Texas told me on my podcast Green Connections Radio™. They'll tell you things they won't post about, and if you engage them offline they'll feel better about your company, organization or city. That's why Ferrini's team goes door-to-door.

Maximizing big data for marketing and reputation management

To get the biggest bang for your buck out of big data as it relates to marketing and reputation management, you have to use it to understand markets, monitor perceptions of brands and industries, target messages and respond quickly, especially to complaints or crises.

 

Here are some tips:

  • Listen. Step one is listening everywhere with an open mind and no expectations.
  • Ask, "What am I missing?" and "What seems irrelevant or not popular?"
  • Consider other stakeholders as influencers, such as regulators, nonprofits, industry organizations, local groups and government agencies.
  • Take a proactive role in managing your industry's reputation.
  • According to Thompson, be aware of bad data from statistics that were artificially generated.
  • Respond immediately and proactively to crisis situations, whether company- or industry-specific. Learn from the strategies others have used, including other industries.
  • Remember that not all of your stakeholders are trackable online.
  • Consult your top communications officer and analyze your reputation data before making major company decisions. I experienced the value of this firsthand as the communications lead on the Executive Committee at a Chrysler division.

Online reputation is likely to become of increasing importance to brands. That means that brands need to step up their data gathering and analysis efforts. It's only through harnessing the power of big data that brands can understand what's impacting their reputation and take steps to move it in a positive direction.

Joan Bryna Michelson, MBA is a creative business and communications strategist, writer, and journalist who is also Executive Producer and host of the acclaimed radio show-podcast series Green Connections Radio,™ chosen by USA Today as one of the top six podcasts especially for business travelers. Joan has a Huffington Post blog, has been published in TheAtlantic.com, The Washington Post, The New Economy, and many others on various platforms, including a column on leadership in a business journal and excerpts in books about innovation and women's leadership (separate books). She has also been an on-air broadcast talent and/or producer with: WTOP-FM, Greenbiz, CBS News' "60 Minutes," ABC News, and NBC. Her communications clients have included: the U.S. Department of Energy, the Clean Energy Alliance, Earth Day Network, Global Environment Fund, Northbridge Energy Partners, and international environmental consulting firm Marstel-Day.

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