What Data Doesn’t Tell You: How to Create a Community-First Strategy

What Data Doesn’t Tell You: How to Create a Community-First Strategy

Brands today have more data around their customers and their industry than ever before. This amount of data is a gold mine to understand who their audiences are and what these audiences are interested in.

Working in social media marketing, I often preach the data-driven approach to Socialbakers clients and I’m convinced that brands can optimize their strategy by understanding how their social media audiences react to their content. Yet, having access to this considerable amount of data can be a trap that some brands could easily fall into: data-driven doesn’t mean data-dictated. 

It’s tempting to start relying solely on data, but marketers have to be careful not to lose the essence of their brand and what attracted an audience to the community in the first place. Your social media brand identity and what sets you apart from other players in your industry should still be the cornerstone of everything that you do. 

Socialbakers recently hosted a webinar with Canon Australia, and an example that General Manager of Marketing & Customer Experience Nina Spannari shared resonated strongly with me.

Canon Australia was trying to understand what type of imagery was more popular among their community on Instagram, so they turned to data analysis and started comparing social media engagement around different types of imagery: portraits, landscape, city shots, etc. They found out that landscape photography was by far the best performing theme on their Instagram feed.

Interactions by Image Type

With this insight, they started posting mostly landscape photos, but got called out by their community not long after for doing so. What Canon found out was that what their community valued the most was the diversity of the content published on their feed and the way they were promoting the creativity of photographers – on Instagram, Canon mostly posts photos users created with Canon products, providing the photographers exposure to Canon’s large following.

What Canon Australia did next is what made them successful: they listened to the input from their followers, and took a more qualitative approach to their social media data. Canon Australia managed to create a true community of established and inspiring photographers passionate about their product and eager to get featured on their Instagram profile.

As a photography enthusiast, I can certainly relate to this. Like most photographers, I have a preferred subject for the photos I take (which, appropriately in this case, is landscape photography) but I do like to get inspired by other types of photography – portraits, wildlife, etc.

Photographers can be a passionate and nerdy bunch; we love to know the settings used to capture a specific shot or spend hours decomposing an image to understand what makes it so good. Don’t even get me started on gear talk – you can find literally hundreds of articles debating which are the best travel tripods.

But more importantly we like to share and engage with people sharing the same passion and this is something that Canon Australia understood and fully integrated in their social media strategy.

So, data-driven or community-driven? Well, actually, the answer is both!

See the Future With an AI-Powered Content Strategy

Social media is always evolving, trends are shifting and new formats are introduced regularly. This means that marketers need to keep trying new things to stay current, but deploying a new strategy without measuring the impact would be like taking a shot in the dark. At the end of the day numbers matter and marketers need to be able to identify what works and take action based on these insights.

Social media is very much a two-way conversation and a great place to get first-hand feedback from your community (who are most likely to be your customers). This is especially true for brands that appeal to a passionate niche of users such as camera brands. Social media followers will have tons of feedback to share; taking their ideas and concerns into account would go a long way to strengthen your brand’s relationship with them in an authentic way.

At Socialbakers, we spend a lot of time talking to marketers across a wide range of industries and we’ve identified some best practices to help you create a bond with your community.

Use Social Media Data to Understand Your Audience

You can learn a great deal about your audience interest by using social media data. Your followers interact with a lot of social media profiles apart from yours. These profiles reflect their interests and knowing their interests will allow you to better tailor your brand content or find new angles to explore.

Using your Facebook data to identify your active audience (people that actually engage with your content) would make your audience demographic and interests accessible to you. With Socialbakers, you can also understand the overlap between your followers and the followers of other brands and organisations which could give birth to interesting partnerships and collaborations.

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Experiment, Measure, Optimize

Once you’ve identified some audience interests that could match your brand personality, it’s time to experiment. Start creating content that you think appeals to the interests of your community.

You can try multiple angles, but you should always ensure that you’re able to track the impact of each tactic on your performance. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify and focus what works best for your brand.

By labelling your content, you can easily keep track of each content pillar and benchmark them against each other, giving you a clearer picture of your winning tactics.

Unified Content Overview

Engage With and Listen to Your Community

As with the example of Canon Australia, data shouldn’t replace human interaction with your community. Here are a few tricks that can help:

  • Ask your community questions in your content caption to solicit comments. An example could be “What is your favorite photography subject?”
  • Use the poll function on Instagram Stories to get your community’s opinion on a particular topic
  • Interact in the comments. Are your followers having a conversation in your post’s comment section? Great! Jump in and take part

This can be challenging to do at scale, hence using a unified marketing platform will help your team streamline the process.

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Digital Transformation Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain

The Takeaway

Digital transformation is no longer a buzzword on a 5-year roadmap. It’s a focus for organizations all over the world, which has been fast tracked by the global pandemic. In the process, brands are changing almost every part of their business and data is at the center of it all: sales data, customer data, social media data, ads data… the list goes on.

From a social media perspective, we need to carefully interpret the plethora of data out there to help us make informed decisions about engaging our community. However,  data shouldn’t be the only element we rely on. Remember, it’s a two-way conversation and a data-driven approach doesn’t mean a data-dictated approach.

In the end, be informed by data, but nothing beats a dash of genuine human interaction.

Customer Program Manager, JAPAC

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