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The role of predictive analytics in social media

There are various tools and techniques that are likely to shape social media marketing over the coming years, but one of the biggest is likely to be predictive analytics. Predictive analytics utilizes past data and behavior models to predict future actions, events and trends. Properly employed, that data can be used preemptively by businesses to engage at the right time customers who, based on common models, have a future purchasing intent.

Here’s a simple example. People on social media platforms use certain words, phrases or hashtags that are predictors of future purchases. Someone who posts words or phrases that suggest that they have just gotten engaged, or are pregnant, or are planning a holiday are likely to have common purchasing intents, such as a wedding dress or wedding planner, baby clothes or a stroller, flights or travel insurance.

Knowing an individual’s likely future purchasing intentions presents unique social media marketing opportunities. Ad campaigns targeted at individuals using specific phrases or hashtags are only one option; there may also be opportunities for brands to reach out directly to individuals on social media to initiate the process of engagement. For example, a baby stroller retailer might tweet congratulations to someone posting that they are #pregnant; that’s certainly no guarantee of a sale, but it’s starting a relationship and putting the brand firmly at the forefront of the tweeter’s mind when it comes time to buy a stroller.

There are many keywords, phrases and hashtags that can be fairly reliable predictors of future purchasing intent: #movinghome; #travel; #graduationday; #engaged; and so on. The key is to look at your own brand and its product or service range, and utilize your understanding of your potential customers’ conversations and purchase intents. What words and phrases will they be using? Once you have identified them, they can be included in your social searches.

Another key consideration is what lead-time is there likely to be between the social media keyword trigger and the actual purchase; for example, in the case of pregnancy there is a reasonable time window of several months to build a relationship and encourage engagement. Other keywords might indicate a much shorter timescale in which to engage the individual and turn them from a prospect, into a customer.

Whatever you are selling, Beyond Fifteen can navigate the intimidating landscape of predictive analytics in social media to engage your future customers before they know they are in the market for your products or services!

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