SXSW Sneak Peek: Social Content for Valuable Customer Insight and Immediate ROI

February 28, 2014
Posted by: Matthew Hammer, VP- Marketing

Ahoy, mates! On March 8, I’ll be leading a workshop at SXSW, “Begin at the End: Content Planning for Insights,” giving participants a simple and accessible way to boost the ROI of their social programs by focusing on insight.
In recent years, it’s become a common practice to post silly or provocative updates just for the sake of engaging with customers. While there’s nothing wrong with purely social posts, it’s better to be social and learn something.
In other words, skip telling your customers that it’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” and instead think like a real pirate by keeping ROI, and the treasure of insights, foremost as you create content.
More on the pirate metaphor can be found in my last post, along with an abbreviated how-to on producing content that leads to business-critical insights. Here’s an even more abbreviated version:
1. Identify customer insights that could contribute to business decision making.
2. Share something of value in exchange for engagement. 
3. Once you have their attention, make an easy ask.
4. Before posting that request, ask yourself again, “Why is it important that I know this?”
How It Works in Practice
Let’s say that my brand is in the retail BBQ supplies business, and that most of my sales happen in the months of May, June and July.
In February, I might start posting that Brand XYZ barbecues are coming out with new models. I could post photos and specs of the new models (giving something away), and I could offer $50 discount coupons redeemable in May, available only via download.
Then, I start my “easy ask” campaign, designed to gain customer insights. I might ask, “Who does most of the BBQing in your house?” with a photo poll depicting a husband and a wife. Another question might ask, “How many burners do you want your grill to have – 1, 2, 3, or 4?”
Another bit of trivial engagement might playfully show a photo of a stainless steel BBQ grill alongside a hot pink grill and ask fans, “Which of these do you want in your backyard?”
Each of these posts not only reminds people that they can still grill in the traditional off-season, they also probe for customer insights.
The first two questions speak to identifying the purchasers and features they like, while the last one asks for customers to identify opportunities. Even though there aren’t any hot pink grills currently on the market, the response to this question will let the grill manufacturer know if offering different colored grills might be a new selling point, and possibly expand the demographic of the traditional grill purchaser.
By starting these posts in February, I might be able to order new models and colors in time for the peak grill-selling season.
I might then post a series of Youtube videos showing BBQ tips and recipes for winter-time grilling and include non-traditional BBQ foods like soups and hot drinks to help people get more out of their grilling experience.
Finally, I could run a contest asking people to send in photos of themselves grilling in the snow or stormy weather. This will give me some insight into the market size of off-season grillers and reveal an additional business opportunity.
I hope to see you at SXSW! In the meantime, what has been your most successful insight-driven content campaign – or is this way of thinking completely new?