Employing Social as a Powerful BI Tool: USPS’s Top Three Tips



“With what we know, we can take action. We can inform operations. We can do a little bit more training or coaching. And we can better respond to concerns.”


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This year during a #SMWNYC session hosted by Digimind, Mary Beth Levin, Manager of Business Intelligence at the United States Postal Service shared how business intelligence can provide actionable insight to strengthen relationships between brands and their audience.

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The Social Business Team at USPS uses a suite of tools, including social media, to gauge public sentiment and analyze the conversation on USPS related topics. To clarify what business intelligence means for USPS, Levin says “Social Customer Response is what people are saying to us when they’re asking for assistance on our social media accounts. Business intelligence, on the other hand, is what’s being said about us on various social and traditional media platforms.”

How can you leverage business intelligence to bring value to your brand?

Here are three creative ways USPS uses social media as a powerful BI tool:

Improve traditional operations

Eighty percent of the traffic that USPS sees on their social media account is from prospective employees. People who are looking for employment or have questions about the application process frequently contact USPS through social media. Using this insight, social media has reshaped traditional Employee Mediation and Recruitment operations for USPS.

“We want to make sure the process is as smooth as possible for them,” says Levin. As a result, USPS has included an actual Human Resources employee who can directly communicate with interested applicants on Facebook and Twitter. “We also get questions from former employees on things such as retirement, or from current employees who may be having concerns or difficulties and need to ask for assistance.”

When it comes to folks who publicly identify as employees but may not be representing the brand in the best light, USPS tries not to be punitive. “We tend to be more educational in our approach. We address things very granular in terms of individual needs, but we also look operationally.”

From the influx they received, it was clear that a community for USPS existed. “We have this band of brothers who bleed postal blue and love us, but need a little bit of coaching. We have this untapped resource that we need to provide some direction to.” In response to this identified need, USPS started an Employee Advocacy Program.

Capitalize on real-time feedback

Many people use social media to share their take on products, and USPS stamps are no exception to this. “When we released the John Lennon stamp on our website, we unexpectedly heard from frustrated international customers who wanted to buy our product. Folks outside of the U.S. can’t purchase on our website, but they can on our Ebay site,” said Levin. USPS was able to relay this real-time feedback to their team in order to get the product available on Ebay right away and prevent a missed opportunity.

“When we launched our Marvin Gaye stamp, we were more prepared. We had our stock available on Ebay for our international buyers. By having that additional information, we were able to demonstrate our value.”

Get direct insight into brand perception

When partnering with other brands and pushing out products or new business initiatives, USPS leverages their topical reports to do a deep dive and map out what’s going on. “We want to know where exactly the conversation is taking place, what the nature of the sentiment is, and who is saying what. All of these factors will inform the kind of response that we provide,” explains Levin.

“For example, we can see the response from our partnership with Forever 21 and use it to validate overall sentiment on how people perceive our services.”

When it comes to things you can’t anticipate, Business Intelligence can be a lifesaver for brands. Levin summarized it best when she said, “With what we know, we can take action. We can inform operations. We can do a little bit more training or coaching. And we can better respond to concerns.”

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