Rather than enlightening you about your customers, all that social media data may actually be misleading you—because it’s only showing you a narrow and atypical slice of your social media audience and your customer base.
That’s the key insight in a new report released last week, What Social Media Analytics Can’t Tell You About Your Customers. Their big finding was that even if your social media audience is largely made up of people who are also your customers (which in itself can be hard to ascertain), those customers who you actually hear from on social media are not representative of your customers as a whole.
They’re fundamentally different from the quieter social media users who make up the vast majority of your social media audience (and potentially your customers): the dabblers, who post two to four times per week, and the near-silent lurkers, who post once a week or less.
They’re also selective about the types of TV programs they regularly view, and are likely to consult friends and family in their purchase decisions, and more likely to share their own opinions in turn. But’s what’s missing is the data on your dabbler and lurker fans and customers — that’s much less likely to show up in your analytics. … They’re less interested in their mobile devices than in their TVs; they watch more types of TV programming, and follow fewer topics on Facebook (though, interestingly, they’re just as likely to play online games). But like lurkers, they’re often missed by social media analytics: because they post so much less than enthusiasts, they account for only 10% of what you hear on Facebook, even though they make up almost 20% of the Facebook audience.
Particularly when the signals you pick up on social come from customers who disagree, you need to find ways to contextualize what you’re hearing on social with every other source of customer insight you can get your hands on: transactional data, customer feedback, click tracking, and so on.
Social media analytics may remind companies why it’s crucial to understand their customers—but the differences between enthusiasts, dabblers, and lurkers means that social media can’t deliver that understanding.