Your organization’s social marketers are the gatekeepers to a channel with the freshest, most relevant consumer data available. More than 1.4 billion consumers now spend 22% of their online time on social platforms, interacting with content and sharing information. All of these actions create rich, multidimensional data about their behaviors, demographics, and interests. Yet many brands fail to leverage this data because their social marketers remain isolated from the rest of their teams, and disconnected from the initiatives that drive bottom-line success. It’s time to de-silo your social marketing team and integrate social data across your organization. Here are just a few of the reasons social data can provide unique opportunities for your business: It has scope. Many retailers track customer preferences based on purchase and click behavior. While this adds value to their retargeting and email efforts, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Social media profiles and interactions offer a fuller, more nuanced picture of people than their actions within your sales funnel. Social data prompts discoveries about their favorite products and passions – information you can use to shape your offerings and outreach. It moves fast. Most brands collect user data – but it’s often uploaded manually and infrequently from disparate sources and via different tracking methods. This “dirty data” makes it difficult to get an accurate, up-to-date view of the consumer. But data from social networks evolves as often as the users who create it do. You know when your customers change jobs or cities, whether they’re training for a marathon or have a new favorite TV show. Brands that track social data are getting real-time, meaningful insights into their consumers’ lives, so you don’t miss opportunities. It’s hyper-accurate. Fan engagement with your social content is a reflection of user sentiment about your brand and products. It helps your team understand what products and offers engage fans the most, and what questions or criticisms come up frequently. So how do you tap into this intelligence? The first step is to empower your marketing team to think of social media as more than an outbound communications channel. Set goals beyond growing like counts; incentivize social marketers to create campaigns and content that breed genuine engagement. When you grow the number of fans who actually interact with your brand, you also expand your data set about their preferences. Plus, when fans like, comment, and share your content, it appears in their friends’ news feeds – spurring organic growth of a consumer base that wants to hear what you have to say. The next step is to invest in technology that helps your team capture, analyze, and export social data. Consider solutions that help marketers collect data about how their social content performs, as well as demographic and behavioral insights into their fans. For social marketers, the value of accessing this data is immediate and significant. They’re able to create social content that performs better and increases engagement and conversions. For example, Viacom’s Logo analyzed their pages’ social data and discovered that “social postcards” – images captioned with funny quips – spurred a lot of fan interaction. As a result, they increased their number of active fans by 17% in only a week. They then used the new strategy to promote episodes of the classic TV show Bewitched. The show experienced a triple digit ratings increase week over week. The impact of social data has reverberations far beyond the social marketing channel. Marketers learn about consumer behavior and preferences and run targeted messaging and campaigns across multiple channels. They segment email lists by factors like location, activities, and interests – enabling targeted communications that yield higher clickthrough rates and better offer performance. They use content performance data to understand how consumers are talking about their products, in order to refine and grow their search keyword lists. They even discover new demographics to target with relevant ads and messaging. These campaigns are more targeted based on user likes and web traffic patterns. Integrating social data into your CRM system gives you a fuller, more accurate read of consumers at all stages of the buy cycle – making your sales team’s interactions with customers and prospects more timely and effective. For retailers, social insights can help inform merchandising and manufacturing. Brands may discover that a high proportion of users like a particular brand on Facebook that they don’t currently carry in their online store, and then buy it or create something similar. Or they can run social campaigns that solicit fan feedback about products they’re likely to buy – anticipating client demand without investing in costly market testing initiatives. Online retailer ModCloth has found success in applying user data to inform their inventory decisions. Their “Be the Buyer” program allows consumers to vote for the designs that ModCloth will sell on their site. Items created as a result of the “Be the Buyer” program sell twice as much overall as other inventory. Ultimately, social data can power optimized experiences for consumers at every conceivable touchpoint. Brands that learn how to leverage it effectively will breed and sustain customer loyalty.