01 Sep Social Media Listening – Why Should I do it?
It (hopefully) shouldn’t be surprising to you that it’s easier to sell things to people when you know what they want. Finding this out can be a complex, lengthy and expensive process though.
There are a number of options that you can pursue to find out what people want in a particular industry, or perhaps more relevantly, what they think about you and the products/services you’re hawking.
The worst option is to not listen and just assume that your products/services are wonderful and beloved by your adoring consumers. This is incredibly dangerous. marketing in ignorance from an ivory tower normally means that you’re going to be way off the mark, particularly if you’re targeting a youthful demographic.
Gone are the days when a brand fully owned it’s reputation and could tell the public what to think. Now a single bad review can put a restaurant in trouble. It’s never been more important to know how you’re perceived and tailor your message accordingly.
To find out what your brand reputation is, you can ask people. Although unfortunately, this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. If you’re conducting a survey, you need to take care of putting the questions together to ensure they are clear and not leading.
You also need to consider the complexities of ethics within the research. Secondly, you can’t just ask anyone in any location. The differences in audience gender, age, income, level of education and location can affect your results making your hard work meaningless.
An insultingly simple example would be if Werther’s Original conducted research in a retirement home, their product would probably receive an overwhelmingly positive response. This misleading data can lead to poor (and costly) marketing decisions if the context of the research is not considered.
I’ll be taking you through how to get an accurate impression of your brand, industry or key influencers through social media listening(and how you’re not being ‘Big Brother’).
Social Liste… What?
So what exactly is social listening? It’s not staying glued to your Twitter feed to try and remember what’s going on, or frantically trying to count hashtags on Instagram.
Social listening tools allow you to listen out across the social media galaxy for desired keywords or phrases, for example, your brand name, a competitor, or your product/service.
This data is invaluable for finding out what consumer opinion actually is and can highlight issues or thoughts that you may never have been aware of. You may find that your brand regularly appears with the phrases you’d never have associated it with.
In our (very) hypothetical Werther’s Original example, the brand itself may have viewed itself as edgy and cool. Conducting their own research they’d have asked the question on the street to passers-by. “Do you agree Werther’s Original is cool?” This is ambiguous and potentially leading. This flawed research indicated that 71% of people agreed that they were cool. Based on this data, the brand’s marketing department could propose to the board that they should launch an expensive marketing campaign based upon this brand reputation (In my mind featuring Stormzy, or Anthony Joshua).
If Werther’s employ social listening, they’d see that their brand is associated with nostalgia, tradition and a slightly older audience.
Social listening can provide accurate consumer thoughts. The relative anonymity of a social media profile means that people can be honest about their views. Of course, you can argue that the pressure to seem perfect on social media may distort opinion slightly, but that is a topic for another blog. On the whole, social media listening can provide accurate, honest insights and give you an accurate view of a particular industry or business environment.
Who are the movers and shakers? (Micro-influencers)
Influencer marketing is a hot topic in social media marketing at the minute. Instagram is awash with individuals who have turned an inspirational quote and a selfie into a business model (we appreciate there is slightly more to it than that). With the army of micro-influencers showing no sign of shrinking anytime soon, it can be a challenge to select the appropriate people to represent your brand to their followers. You obviously don’t want to endure a PewDiePie-esque scandal. There are a number of businesses that have sprung up offering to pair your brand with influencers, however, it’s debatable how appropriate some of them are likely to be. For true credibility and authenticity, you want your chosen influencer to have an interest in passion in subjects that match your brand values. Otherwise, you’re just another diet tea.
Social listening could be the tool that finds you influencers that are already discussing topics that match your brand. Many tools allow you to create lists of people ranked by their influence score. Some even break down those influencers’ followers so that you can be sure that they are followed by people, rather than bots before you throw some of your precious marketing budgets at them.
Before you think that I’m on commission for social listening tools, a word of warning. Social listening is great, however, you only get out what you put into it. If your keywords aren’t clear or specific enough, you can end up with a lot of unnecessary ‘noise’ that obscures your desired results. Be careful what you search for (or get an agency to do it for you…)