96% of people who discuss brands online don’t follow the brand’s account, meaning that companies now need to go even beyond their own channels and monitor unbranded conversations to gain insights that will help them predict future events, and ultimately, their growth.
In Forrester’s social listening report, Analyst Allison Smith said examining the volume of buzz a previous campaign created simply isn’t enough anymore. “Money is not made in the reactive, the retrospective, or the explanatory. It’s made in the predictive — in your company’s ability to know what consumers will be talking about, caring about, and buying next.”
This old quote by management leader and author Peter Drucker still applies to well-prepared marketing teams: “what gets measured, gets improved.”
Let’s dive into how predictive analytics can expand your social media marketing efforts.
Social Media’s Crystal Ball
Predictive analytics use past events found in data and statistics to predict the future. Quantifying social media efforts—especially organic ones—and proving their ROI is a challenge many marketers face. Less than 15% of marketers can confidently quantify the revenue driven by social.
With predictive analytics, marketers gain the power to identify social media users with purchase intent, those who are at risk of churning, or even those who convert at a higher rate and spend more money.
As Shift Communications’ Christopher Penn said, “A company with excellent predictive analytics will have a significant advantage in cost reduction and customer service over a company which guesses at when demand will be highest.” He adds that thanks to data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, PR becomes easier for most companies, too.
Real-Life Social Media Predictions
Going back to the business case for predictive analytics for social media, here are some scenarios for its implementation:
Fueling product launches
When you’re launching a new product or feature, predictive analytics help you understand past patterns of demand based on time of year, location, ongoing trends and more. You can find users who need your product, those with purchase intent, as well as people who are likely to turn into brand ambassadors and tailor your product launch marketing activity around these insights.
Predicting sales and revenue
Pulsar’s study “How Social Media Predicts Ticket Sales” explains that increases in mentions and buzz doesn’t necessarily result in bigger ticket sales; the factors that do count are relevance and the demographics of audience and messages involved in the mentions. This kind of knowledge can drive your community involvement in order to boost sales.
Assigning commercial values to social media engagement
Thanks to the advancement of social data analysis tools, you can look at the social activity and engagement of your existing and past customers to uncover the value of each like, share, comment, and other interactions. .
Tools for Social Media Predictions
Predictive analytics isn’t quite as simple as loading a chart and letting a tool do the work. Instead, use your creativity, curiosity, and knowledge about business to see possibilities in the data you collect. Regardless, we can still use powerful tools to collect, systemize, and make sense of our data to understand past trends and predict future ones—here are some favorites.
CrowdTangle is available for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit and gives you down to the individual post level. With their long-term performance reports, you can understand overall trends and plan future activity. Furthermore, different people across your marketing team can benefit from these insights. A public relations person can pull news mentions and news coverage. An advertiser can pull pay-per-click amounts, bid prices.
Socialbakers is a comprehensive solution that provides deep insights into four critical aspects for a successful Facebook content strategy: best-performing content to retain and attract audiences, best reach and visibility based on algorithm suggestions for posting times, content grading for more successful paid promotion, and impact of Facebook performance on wider business KPIs.
Optimove (PostFunnel’s parent company) implements superior means of predicting customer behavior. The approach combines LTV forecasting, continual dynamic micro-segmentation and a unique, predictive behavior modeling system. Optimove essentially parses through large sets of customer data to automatically determine how to get the right message to the right person at the optimal time, maximizing the value of that customer.
Predicting your business future may not be as simple as looking into a crystal ball, but with the right approach, goals, and tools, you can peek into what’s coming and take action that will enable growth and retention.