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How Smart Brands Use Big Data to Create Great Content

How Smart Brands Use Big Data to Create Great Content

Soren Kierkegaard wrote that “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Part of gaining that understanding from what has happened in the past is analyzing data – information that includes not only when and where actions were taken, but also why. Capturing the entire historical snapshot of a story or event can provide the insights to improve things going forward, and this includes the creation of content on owned social media channels.

Here are three brands looking at life backwards and how they have captured the data needed to live smartly moving into the future using organic content.

In addition to the $100 million, award-winning original series “House of Cards,” Netflix has been putting their analytics to work on a variety of projects for many years. By studying the viewing habits of its users they were able to see which actor a common core set of viewers preferred, along with what films they watched, and the director in charge of their most popular movie.

Other brands need to pay attention here, but this is where the shift has occurred. Once Netflix had this data, and created the streaming series starring Kevin Spacey, the marketing team didn’t need to budget for forcing the new show on viewers. A simple in-app message “You might want to watch this” was all that was needed to pull the target audience in – not all users, just the selected group. They loved it.

Netflix is using a similar approach with “Orange is the New Black,” and other original shows, as well as how it decides which programs to buy or license. Is their approach working? If quadrupling a share price is any indication, just ask one of their investors how it’s going. “People with data have an advantage over those who run on intuition or ‘what feels right.’”, states one kissmetrics blog.

What the photo products site Shutterfly did with 80 petabytes of data is also worth noting. First, they started by integrating a culture of analytics appreciation. Then they used a software solution to find actionable insights from their seven million customers. The results were a data-driven marketing campaign over email and retargeting ads.

Having seen a year over year net revenue growth around 17%, there might be some insights here worth noting. By looking closely at their email open rates, social media engagements, partner program links, etc. Shutterfly was able to pin down exactly what their ideal client was doing at every hour of the day.

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Shutterfly’s marketing team didn’t achieve their analytical success alone. They worked across multiple departments, including IT, to get the full story about what their users had been doing before using that information to guide their execution.

While this might sound “easy” for a B2C brand, ConAgra Foods has taken the original content challenge head-on with a big investment in its data infrastructure. They flipped the traditional CPG point of view of a customer on its head by putting the end consumer at the center. Then they collected more data around them than what was expected, in addition to working with partners to gain a new perspective.

ConAgra has been bringing their social content creation in-house over the past few years, and using what it learns from every department to inform those decisions of what to publish and when to publish it.

What other takeaways can brands get from these insights?

  1. Know what your audience is searching for, both on our website, in general search and what they are sharing. Creating in-demand content and sharing it on social is one way to improve the odds your posts will get engagement.
  2. As this article in Wired explains, the data needs to be discoverable quickly in order to be valuable.
  3. Working across departments improves the end result, not just in financials, but the entire experience for the end-user.

Brands can apply these same big data/looking backwards practices to their social media profiles if they create an iterative process to do so, and implement it on a regular basis.

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