Social Media

Tools for engaging with holiday shoppers on the most popular social platforms

Social media platforms offer retailers a chance for direct engagement with consumers as well as access to highly personalized data, all in real or near-real time. During the holiday season, with its intensified levels of competition and customer distraction, having the type of direct promotional connection with customers that social media can offer is more crucial than ever.

Yet for many retailers, how to effectively leverage social media for holiday promotions and marketing is something of a mystery. Here is a brief review of three vendors that can offer retailers assistance on a particular popular social media platform: 8th Bridge specializes in Facebook, Crimson Hexagon specializes in Twitter, and Piqora specializes in Pinterest (with the added bonus of Instagram and Tumblr).

8th Bridge: 8th Bridge provides the Facebook-oriented Social Graphite platform, which combines what the vendor terms social shopping engagement with social identity analytics. Social shopping engagement features allow retailers to integrate customer feedback with the Facebook Custom Open Graph and also use it to trigger stories into the timelines of customers and the tickers and news feeds of their friends. In addition, customers can curate and share collections of products from a retailer's site on their Facebook pages, receive special social incentives and rewards, and provide social ratings of products.

These activities lead to social identity analytics, which provides three core capabilities of snapshots, crowds and campaigns. Snapshots are quick social profiles of individual customers, including Facebook profile photo; interests; product tastes; and key metrics about their influence, expertise and brand awareness. Crowds organize snapshots into targeted groups based on customizable metrics, and campaigns are then built around the crowds. 8th Bridge lets retailers offer a number of social engagement features to customers, with the retailers using the resulting data to build individual and group profiles for better targeting.

8th Bridge technology is designed to help retailers apply Facebook as a tool for developing critical social brand advocates whose voices are more likely to be heard over the holiday promotional din than the voices of marketers and advertisers. It's also intended for developing highly segmented customer profiles that will help personalize branded holiday campaigns.

Crimson Hexagon: Crimson Hexagon offers the ForSight platform, based on a proprietary mathematical algorithm known as BrightView, to perform analysis of social media commentary, including keywords and sentiment to provide insight into how consumers feel about a particular retailer, product or brand. Retailers can apply the solution to analyze both a real-time stream of social media conversation and historical commentary, including the full Twitter firehose as well as postings on social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube and blogs.

Retailers can perform sentiment analysis on up to 12 categories for a specific topic and define their own categories as well as use preset offerings. In addition, BrightView analyzes social conversations holistically, resulting in ForSight delivering contextually relevant data with a minimal amount of "human training" of the tool. Most significantly for retailers running holiday promotions, Crimson Hexagon offers real-time insight into what consumers are talking about and feeling. This allows quick adjustments to short-term holiday campaigns whose effectiveness cannot usually be determined until well after the holiday season is over.

Piqora: Piqora presents itself as a marketing suite for the visual Web, offering solutions that aid marketing efforts across the visually oriented Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr social networks. On Pinterest, Piqora enables retailers to customize and track pin-based contests and promotions, as well as track trending images, content and influencers, and perform competitive analysis.

Retailers can also leverage Pinterest technology to track their top photos and videos, as well as top photos and videos of competitors and top influencers and hashtags driving brand engagement, on Instagram. Similarly, Pinterest enables retailers to track trending images, brand reach and engagement, and competitor performance on the Tumblr microblogging site.

The holidays are an emotional time for many consumers, and smart retailers know the right visuals can have a huge impact on a shopper's emotional state. Piqora lets retailers maximize the impact and return of visually based social campaigns and, much like Crimson Hexagon, make real-time adjustments based on tracking of social media trends as they happen.

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