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Retail is a fascinating segment to study.  

Retailers live in a world of razor thin margins, expensive returns, staggering shrinkage, and talent retention challenges.   It’s no wonder retailers themselves are so keen to leverage Social Media as a tool to improve the customer experience.On the other side of the counter (physical or virtual) consumers have demonstrated a desire to use social media to talk about retailers, but not necessarily to retailers.

And taken on the whole, the consumer / retailer relationship reached a new level of intimacy a decade ago when consumers began to trade off privacy for discounts in the form of individual loyalty management cards.  Now retailers find themselves sitting on a warehouse of individual consumer data – reflecting past and ‘real time’ purchases (through loyalty card membership), easily augmented with the most intimate personal details by publicly disclosed social media data.  (Don’t think your local retailer knows how many kids you have?  Where you vacationed last?  How much your home is worth?  Don’t be so sure until you check your Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/LinkedIn/etc/etc/etc accounts to see what you’re sharing). 

Could the aggregation of these data sources cross the line of ‘creepiness’ and betray our social compacts around privacy?  Do you as a retailer risk misreading the Social Media tealeaves?

NetBase has partnered with SAP to develop SAP Social Media Analytics, an industrial strength solution that gathers and processes billions of online conversations in real-time. With deep natural language processing capabilities, this analytics solution delivers all-important context that helps companies understand the nuances, including things like sarcasm, irony, and word play. Misunderstanding conversations is just as damaging as not listening at all.

Curious about what the best and brightest in retail are thinking about this?    So are we. At the recent NRF “Big Show” we asked some of the leading minds in retail  about how the best retailers are approaching Social Media. I thought I’d share one of those videos with you.

If you want to know more about what our partner NetBase has uncovered while working with JD powers  on consumer behavior, I’d encourage you to check out this recent report.

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