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Social prospecting and scoring: The missing link to social marketing ROI

How well do you know your social followers?  Do you know how many of them are brand ambassadors, what they like about your brand, and what they say about it?  Do you know who else is out there that may love your product?  Sure, you have built your presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. You may even have a presence on Pinterest and Google+.  You are out there on social networks because you know the potential is big. With over 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook each month, and Twitter handling 32 billion search queries per month, there isn’t a marketer out there who is not salivating at the potential for using social platforms to get their name out, engage prospects and customers and drum up more sales.  Yet, most marketers have realized that social networks are essentially databases of users that remain largely untapped.

One reason why the promised potential of social remains untapped is marketers still do notscalable ways to identify, segment and prioritize their social followers.  Sure, you may monitor who follows you, you may even capture what they say about your brand, but that leaves an entire social universe not traversed for most.  Today’s social segmentation is largely rudimentary – (1) there’s your fans/ followers and then there’s (2) everyone else. Now what if there was a better way?

Enter social prospecting and social scoring. This isn’t your Klout score. Social prospecting allows you to mine the social web, identify new likely buyers, collect and store their social data (demographic and social activity), and then segment and prioritize those people according to criteria you define. For example, if you were Verizon, you could mine social posts for people expressing a negative sentiment about AT&T’s spotty coverage in the Boston area, and offer them a special incentive to switch – such as free calling for a month, or free iPhone 4S. The ability for marketers to assign higher score to social prospects is called social scoring. Think of it as treating the entire social web as your database, collecting and storing data on users regardless of whether they are following your branded channels, and segmenting those users according to criteria you define.

Social scoring is a new way for social marketers to uncover qualified leads and new revenue via social means.  It starts by turning the concept of listening on its head. Instead of listening for topics or mentions, social scoring requires listening for people. Think of it this way: you shouldn’t be interested in how many times your competitors are mentioned, but instead in the people who mentioned them. When you find these people, you need to understand them – their demographics (explicit information they’ve submitted to the social networks) and what they are saying (their implicit activity). Marrying the demographic information with insights about activities is what social profiles are all about. So the next step is to capture the social profiles of your likely new social buyers.

Then you need to weigh those profiles using the explicit and implicit profile details relative to your specific business goals. In essence, what you will be doing is social scoring at its best – rank-ordering your social profiles to guide your future marketing actions. Social scoring can help marketers answer the following questions:

  • How many likely buyers of my product or solutions are out there and not part of our marketing database?
  • How many likely buyers do I have at each stage of the buying funnel?
  • What information should I be offering to these different buyer segments?
  • Are my customers researching new alternatives to what we offer? How likely are they to defect?
  • Who are my top brand ambassadors?  Who are the top influencers on any given topic and how likely are they to influence others?

The essence of social scoring is finding the right people, ranking those people, and having a communication plan ready that support your business goals.

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