Using Social Analytics for Media Planning: A Guide for Effective Planning and Targeting

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With the available resources and channels for media planning changing every day, you don’t want to be caught missing opportunities and behavioral changes in your target audience. Or worse, you don’t want to fall into the trap of repeating efforts that weren’t as successful as you thought they were. There’s a lot of data to navigate, and as a media buyer the last thing you want to do is spend time and resources on the wrong buys.

Read this paper to learn how you can use social analytics to become more effective in cultivating new business.

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1. Preplan and Capitalize on Your Audience Insights

Know your audience. Who’s the target?

The first thing you’ll likely want to know when planning is who exactly you are talking to. How can you classify and understand them? Often demographics provide a great baseline, giving a quick distillation of the type of people who engage with a brand. But what would your customer eat for breakfast, what TV shows do they watch, what newspaper do they read, what trends are they following, liking, sharing? ‘Psychographic’ insights can help you flesh out your customers habits and qualifying interests— helping you be sure you’re speaking to your audience in ways that are relevant to them, and will succeed in reaching them.

Above, we can see that while J. Crew customers have unsurprising interests related to fashion, they also have highly specific and strong interests in blogging, Etsy, crafts, interior design, weddings, Zoey Deschanel, and high school. This allows us to understand that J. Crew customers are creative women interested in design and online content. This informs planners that a digital campaign could be particularly effective with these customers. There are a host of opportunities for planners in this insight: this could be creative ad spreads on websites, product placements on fashion blogs or forums, calls to action for fans to engage with promotions and social media events, or competitions around the brand.

Insights like these give you a competitive edge in determining how the audience is unique—which media they will be most interested in and respond most positively to, crucially allowing you to index which characteristics differentiate your audience from your close competitors.

Indexing against competitors is crucial as it allows you to determine the segments of conversation where your target is dominating and most vocal: where the brand is most strong. It also informs you of potential areas you could target media to steal customers from the competition.

Where can you find the target, on-screen and off? Where should you place and which networks should you use?

Once you’ve determined who you’re trying to reach, you need to know where to find them. Looking geographically at where the brand historically earns the largest share of eyes can help you determine how to budget and where to allocate your spend.

Even better, you can determine where your audience is engaging socially. Data source compositions can tell you which social outlets have the strongest presence for the brand and where there’s room for growth. Top authors and publications can help you determine where to find the highest shares of conversation that the brand is already engaging—seeing which influencers have previously been successful at engaging fans.

Gap is one brand that has been particularly successful at using audience interests for strategic planning. After a recent campaign, we found that the audience was 441 times more interested in Maria Kochetkova, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet and new star of a Gap advertisement, 38 times more interested in GQ Magazine, and 13 times more interested in New York Fashion Week than the general Twitter audience.

These tested interests provide a qualified lead to pursue for the the current planning. These leads could be anything from influencer endorsement or sponsorship, paid placement opportunities or event partnerships, or even highly resonating products that could be placed. This gives planners confidence in their actions that operating on haunches just can’t.

Above, high resonating interests surrounding Gap’s campaign reveal successful engagement and qualified leads with key influencers and events such as GQ magazine, New York Fashion Week, and Real Housewives.

Diving into an influencer segment that proved successful in a campaign to identify new relevant influencers and media to pursue is a great start to planning. With the right influencer partnerships and endorsements, planners can maximize their reach to the most relevant eyes, and increase their chances of being positively received once they’re in front of those eyes.

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Any number of interest segments can be broken down to reveal possible event sponsorships, TV show placements, or even product placements. Planners can test out these partnerships for their relevancy with other interest segments, and discover what types of content to use when pursuing these engagements.

This graphic highlights the prevalence of hashtags in discussion (1.6x more use than the general Twitter audience), and crucially reveals overlapping audience interests in ballet, performing arts, theater, London, opera, and fashion. Pairing high fashion campaigns around other performing arts and influencers in these segments with creative hashtags would be particularly effective in nurturing engagement from this audience.

2. Execute and Adapt

Optimize your placement. When and how often should you place?

Day and time analyses provide insights on when customers talk about the brand, the placements, the campaign, and even when the particular interest segment that you’re trying to target is most vocal. In the below graphic, we can see the participants in R&B discussion are most talkative between 4PM and 4AM, with conversation peaking after midnight, and most conversation occurring midweek. Campaigns and placements to target these audiences would have the greatest reach and yield when run at these times.

How do you know when you’re having success?

It’s not over once you’ve determined where to place your media and how to index it. You also want to see what’s going on organically, while the campaigns and placements are running. Are people responding, and to which placements and media buys? You’ll want to determine the success of each effort relative to each other, and figure out where in the buying cycle your customers are, so you can decide if you need to change your placement, invest more in well performing channels, or pivot to react to negative sentiments that arise. Being able to capture these insights quickly, in an easily digestible form, allows you to cut costs and speed your time to reaction.

Above, we can see the relative engagement and reach of Victoria’s Secret events including the various sales and promotions as well as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, parsing out when people are most excited to shop, and when people shopped. This highlights which efforts are most successful, and which efforts need further work from planners to foster customer engagement and retention.

Adapt to identify new opportunities for extending reach, as they arise.

Media planners and buyers can track spikes in conversation to understand how brand conversations are progressing, what influencers are actually resonating, and what promotions are being picked up. When brands can see when new influencers arrive in the conversation, and how much impact they have relative to other portions of conversation, media planners can determine if this is a fruitful opportunity for future placement, for influencer brand endorsement or partnering, or even potential product placements or featuring in future media strategy

For brand Anthropologie, social analytics revealed that celebrity humorous posts about Anthropologie’s home goods (a highbrow perception of the brand) went viral and that consumers also engaged with the brand’s holiday #dearanthro promotion. Taking notice when the highbrow perception of the brand went viral allows planners the opportunity to incorporate this organic conversation into their efforts, spinning the conversation to ensure that the high caliber of the brand is digested by customers as positive, and not negative.

Determine where your placement was most successful

Knowing where your media placements resonated most strongly (in realtime) is crucial. Geographic data will help you determine if the placement resonated where you expected. Knowing this, you might wonder what aspects of the placement and campaign appealed to customers so you can make sure you’re indexing your future placements with popular discussion and continuing to get the right media in front of the right audiences. If the campaign resonated in new and unexpected areas, these can be investigated to plan other placements and buys, extending your reach and improving your effectiveness

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Under Armour’s ‘I Will What I Want’ ad and global campaign, featuring principal ballerina for the NYC ballet, Misty Copeland, most strongly engaged those in New York—with 14.19% or 183 posts originating there. Of those, 156 came from NYC. Knowing this information in realtime would help media planners and buyers know where to continue making buys as the campaign continues to run.

Use social data to uncover new audiences and opportunities.

Comparing audience interests for the brand and campaign can reveal if the campaign engaged any interests unique from where the brand is already strong. It can reveal opportunities where you can look to plan future placement and partnerships to nurture new earned audiences.

In this visual, we can see interests for Under Armour’s historic brand audience compared to their ‘I Will What I Want’ campaign, revealing the overlapping interests for brand and campaign and any crucial new interests that the campaign picked up.

Nurture your new opportunity.

Comparing Under Armour’s historic brand audience to the audience for the ‘I Will What I Want’ campaign, revealed that placements and advertising engaged the respective audiences equally in areas relevant to Under Armour’s baseline ‘psychographic’ profile: sports, health, fitness, and media related to this. This confirms the relevance of the campaign audience to the brand—illustrating for planners that those responding to the recent campaign included UA’s target audience: those interested in all things sports, watching sports, discussing sports, playing sports, and being active and fit.

More fruitfully, however, it reveals the campaign engaged unique persona groups: those interested in ballet and dance (and reality TV associated with this), those interested in philanthropy, those interested in R&B and Hip Hop, as well as those creatives interested in writing and blogging.

When looking to continue success with these new audiences these unique segments are ideal to pursue in planning. Diving into these and other relevant segments can help planners determine the best new segments to place in, and if there are any overlapping interests that will maximize reach. Further, it provides opportunities to test the waters with trending influencers and content for the conversation, before you spend.

Diving into Segements Interests, such as the above Digital Media segment, reveals influential publications and corresponding interests that individuals interested in digital media respond most prevalently to.

Likely, you’ll also want to know how you fared in relation to competing brands. Seeing what share of voice in conversation a brand took post campaign and media placement can be helpful at measuring this.

If you determine a competitor is dominating the field, this can help you know where you can focus on targeting your new efforts—is there an overlap or shared segments of discussion that you can look to nurture with your next placement? Are there interests that your competitor “owns,” but does not dominate, that will provide you an opportunity for growth and future reach with your next buy?

Even better, social analytics can help you quantify your success for your brand or your client, differentiating you from other media planners and buyers.

Above, we can see a change in customer intent to purchase surrounding H&M’s partnership with Alexander Wang—proving a growth in leads from announcement of partnership through to placement and promotion, to the release of products. This type of measurement can be key in proving your efficacy and in continuing business.

A solution that works with you.

When it comes down to the wire and delivering a comprehensive media plan, you need something up your sleeve beyond perseverance and hard work. Having an encompassing solution with the agility to work with you as you plan, you can form a solid foundation, stay informed as things progress, and cultivate new opportunities that you’ve created with a specificity that allows you to maximize your resources and spend.

When the competition is tough, having a speedy and cost-effective solution can make all the difference. As social engagement and public interest in the media and its consumption only grows, we are just beginning to see the numerous applications for social insights in getting to the core of consumer behavior and perceptions.

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