Social Listening – What and Why

Social Listening is an emerging area, but having spent last few months in this domain, I consider it as a must-have for any big consumer brand. It also has strong use case for B2B sector, specially around new product innovation and customer support. With this post, I aim to educate audience on core capabilities of current social listening platforms.

Using a social listening platform requires configuring keywords, geographies, and information sources specific to the brand, product or competitors. It takes time and effort to fine tune the results to exclude irrelevant keywords or sources. For example, when scanning for ‘Community’ TV show, one may want to exclude ‘recreation center’ as a keyword. Social Listening platforms scan public content across social channels such as Twitter, Google+, Blogs, Forums, Facebook, News etc. Usually, the vendors work with data providers such as Gnip.

Although social listening vendors differ, they share some core features and functionalities.

social dashboard

Conversation Volume & Trend Analysis

  • Volume of social conversation for your brand, often divided up by the different social platforms
  • Trends for brand mentions/related conversations over a period (ranges from a month to a year)
  • Share of Voice is a powerful metric, that summarize of branding efforts are getting recognized by users. One can take it to the next level by excluding official posts from user-generated content

Keyword Frequency Analysis

  • Frequently mentioned keywords used with your brand/product. For example, ‘cheap’, ‘awesome’, ‘horrible’ etc.
  • I have found it useful in identifying trends and common user perceptions

Sentiment Analysis

  • Gauge positive, negative and neutral sentiment of mentions, view trends and events
  • Compare findings against industry or set of competitors
  • Advanced tools also return Top Activities, Emotion Analysis, Brand Affinity

Influence Analysis

  • Determine key influencers (people, organizations, websites) and derive insight through their networks and impact
  • It’s a great word of mouth enabler – engage those who will have most impact in spreading your message. For example, key bloggers or editors who follow your product closely

Geo-location and Demographics

  • Search/Filtering granularity by geography – continent, country, state, cities
  • Search/Filtering granularity by demographics – gender, age

Category Analysis

  • Divide messages into topics or categories and show associated statistics. For example, categories for a healthcare provider could be: drugs, diseases, care plans, website
  • This is useful in detecting signal in the noise and routing messages to the right department

Competitor Analysis

  • Display own company trends on same display as competitors for easy comparison
  • Contrast messages of competitors with own
  • Find opportunities to lure unhappy competitor’s customers to your products

As you may have felt so far, Social Listening is a must-have market research and a consumer insight tool for the Marketing, Sales and Services organizations alike.