Social media, smaller businesses and gathering customer information in practice: the second step

In the first post of this strand I covered my interest in working with a small business to use social marketing to gain useful customer information, and the first steps I’ve taken to do this.  I finished by saying that the next task was to develop a strategy for this company’s social media activity (although my involvement is to focus on information gathering, this needs to fit into a strategy which did not exist.)

Accordingly I discussed the elements of a strategy with the chap who does their social media (along with numerous other duties) and agreed that I’d write these up into a strategy document.  The main value is doing this was not so much that it will provide a guide for implementation, but more that it can be ‘produced’ when someone (typically the accountant) asks why they are bothering with ‘this social media nonsense’.

The Social Media Strategy

The main points covered by the strategy were:

  • The media to be used – Facebook, Twitter and a blog, along with the role that each one will play.
  • Stemming from the objectives (see the earlier post) an explicit statement that this activity will focus on two areas.  These are customers’ own situations (their gardens and what they do in them) and the social and ethical work that the business does – rather than their products.
  • An acknowledgement that the over riding need is to be interesting.
  • Obtaining useful information about the people that interact with us.

Which is all fine and dandy.  But then reality intervened – the social media person I’m working with has been too busy to have even looked at the document!  This was partly because he was completing a very successful competition that he was running on Facebook and preparing to set up a second.

Back to reality

I was keen to take advantage of this second competition to start collecting some initial information from their Facebook fans, by linking this to the second competition.  This begged the question – what do we want to find out?  We quickly realised that we know nothing about these people except for the demographic data that Facebook Insights provides.  (This turned out to be quite favourable.)  We didn’t even know if they were at all relevant to the business’s market.  So the obvious thing to do was to try to find.

We did not want to over burden people, so decided to ask just three questions:

  • Size of garden – and do you have one at all.
  • Primary role of garden
  • Ownership of relevant types of product

Because it is good practice to ask just a few questions at a time, and build up a more complete picture in several goes, it will be necessary to also capture a unique and consistent identifier and then store the data in a proper database.  We don’t want to spend any money, obviously, so want to use one of the free or low cost DIY survey software services.

In order to do this we need to identify what the best way will be to implement.  Which needs a bit of digging.  And, as you might guess, it is proving difficult to find the time to do this.

In my third post in this strand I hope to be able to describe how the survey was implemented, and what happened when we did.

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