Consumers are overwhelmed. The amount of content and media they are exposed to is growing daily. The explosion of smartphones, new technology and Internet of Things innovation has caused an avalanche of interruptions from unwanted sources, and it’s affecting consumer attention.
According to comScore, millennial attention spans require ads that are just five to six seconds in length. And considering that they spend 61 percent of their time in smartphone applications, 8 percent on the mobile web, 25 percent on desktop and just 5 percent on tablets, you can imagine how difficult it might be to reach them with a brand message.
These distractions cause tunnel vision—a psychological defensive mechanism used to block out distractions and noise. It allows consumers to receive only the content they feel is important at a very precise moment in time.
Lastly, consumer purchase behavior is all over the place. It’s unpredictable. The linear purchase funnel taught in business school is irrelevant. Consumers today spend more time doing research online, asking for advice from friends and colleagues and seeking third-party validation before buying. They may be influenced by a billboard, click through to a site from a search result and then not purchase the product until six months later in a retail store.
With the surplus of content and media in the market, it’s critical for your brand to be relevant and stay relevant, and relevance starts with social data.
Social platforms like Crimson Hexagon allow marketers to build very targeted audience listening panels using Boolean queries in order to understand conversations online. They also allow you to upload targeted audiences for ongoing analysis and monitoring. These audiences can include groups of influencers, media/journalists or self-identified targets like information-technology professionals, developers, human-resources managers or millennials in Los Angeles interested in fine dining and electronic dance music.
The result is data-driven marketing programs that can win the war of brand relevance by reaching the right audience, at the right time, in the right channel and with the right content.
Here are four ways to use data in order to become more relevant in the market and to your customers.
- Social data can deliver impactful storytelling: Every content strategy must be grounded in audience intelligence. With listening panels, you can get a very clear picture into what is top of mind for your audience today, yesterday or for the past six months, allowing you to identify various trends in conversation. The data can also give you that “moment of truth” or insight that can spark a narrative, campaign or editorial strategy, resulting in complete, 100 percent relevance.
- Social data can help prioritize media relations: Listening to and tracking various audiences will give you specific insights into which media publications they are reading and sharing the most. For example, you may learn that chief information officers are reading Wired more so than CIO Online. This level of detail can help you prioritize your media list, outreach strategy and allow you to focus on media that you know will reach your target audience. You can also drill down to see what types of content (headlines, narratives) are resonating the most and use that data to inform the language and vernacular of your own bylines, contributed articles, press releases and blog posts.
- Social data delivers strategic paid media: Audience listening involves monitoring “real people” and their behavior. They typically leave “digital breadcrumbs” as a part of their daily consumption of content—where they shop, eat, check in, read or the brands they follow. These breadcrumbs can be used as inputs to build targeting segments. You can also build custom audiences on Twitter to target the very same audience that you are monitoring.
- Social data informs influencer identification: Smart marketing should be built using the 1:9:90 model of influence. The 1 percent are influencers who create content, shape the market and drive conversation about a topic. The 9 percent are highly active online. They repackage influencer content, provide their own context and share it. The 90 percent are the great majority of any market. They lurk and learn. They rely heavily on Google search, consuming peer content and seeking third-party validation. They decide how compelling the 1 percent and the 9 percent really are in telling your brand’s story.
Your brand is only relevant if influencers think it’s relevant.
Once you identify the right influencers in your industry, you can add them to an audience listening panel to better understand what they are saying, writing about, what’s top of mind, what they are reading and sharing. From there, you devise an approach that moves influencers down a funnel from being unaware to aware to engaged to advocate. Through a variety of tactics, the goal is to move all influencers to become brand advocates.
It’s time to take the guesswork out of marketing. It’s time to start using social data to make better decisions. Doing so will enable you to tell your story and reach your audience with content that matters.
This post originally appeared on Adweek.