Use Social Media to Find the “Kernel of Truth”

Samsung Galaxy 3

Samsung used social media to discover insight that resonated with its target market.

By Karen Pelletier

Using social media to mine consumer issues is a phenomenal opportunity for marketers.  Finally, you can conduct market research in a cost-effective manner.  What used to cost marketers hundreds of thousands of dollars to mine consumer truths about a product or product category can now be done relative cheaply.  In the old days, we first had to do qualitative research (either focus groups or in-depth interviews) for around $25-50K.  Since this type of research is not statistically significant you would typically follow this research up by doing quantitative testing. That’s another $25-150K!  Quantitative research would enable you to say, with statistical confidence, that the conclusions you reached were meaningful. But now, there’s a much more cost effective way to go…

Find Meaningful Insights By Mining Social Media

Coinciding with the introduction of the iPhone 5 you may have seen Samsung Galaxy 3 advertising.  This advertising cleverly poked fun at the iPhone 5 and Apple loyalists.  In the process Samsung demonstrates the Galaxy 3’s superiority by highlighting features not available on the iPhone 5, and they were effectively able to position the Galaxy 3 as “the next big thing.”

A Wall Street Journal article from October 21, 2012 described the process that Samsung’s agency used to create their ads.  Samsung’s advertising agency used Network Insights, Inc. to review hundreds of thousands of tweets regarding the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy 3.  They reviewed tweets that either complained about or poked fun at specific features of the iPhone 5.  This enabled them to create advertising which resonated with their target market.

What data mining enables you to do is sort through hundreds of thousands of real customer comments to find those “kernels of truth” that continually reappear and will strike a resounding chord when you build meaningful advertising around it.  And since you are combing through hundreds or thousands of bits of information you are starting off with a “statistically significant” base.

An example of a great advertising campaign that leveraged a “kernel of truth” is the MasterCard “Priceless” campaign.  It changed the nature of the credit card marketing game from “ubiquity” (“being everywhere you want to be”) to “empowerment,” enabling you to do what matters most to you (e.g. spending quality time with your family or engaging in an activity that you’re passionate about).  Using social media to mine data enables you to find these kernels of truth.

Click to Tweet:  How can a small company take advantage of social media data mining?

As a SMB, How Can You Take Advantage of Data Mining?

We can’t all spend mega-money on marketing research or big data analysis, but we can avail ourselves of the plethora of free tools that are out there that may provide insight into:

1) Product or service problems that need to be fixed.

2) Understanding consumer usage problems or opportunities.  Maybe there’s an opportunity for a line extension or extended usage campaign.

3) Competitive analysis.

In his very useful blog article, Priit Kallas lists 54 FREE Social Media Monitoring tools.  Play around with some of these tools.  Most of them have free or trial versions of their software that enable you to experiment with them.  Subscription prices are usually pretty reasonable if you decide you do want to subscribe.  Search for your brand name, your company name, your competitors’ brands and company names, and your product or service category (as a consumer would describe it).  You may be able to find some golden “kernels of truth” that will help you build or strengthen your business.

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About Karen Pelletier

Karen Pelletier is an independent Marketing Consultant. She has over 30 years of experience in consumer packaged goods, new product development, technology marketing, and Internet Marketing. She can be reached at
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