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Your brand’s edge on social media: Customer-centric social listening

by Maryann Huynh , 02.11.2015

Brands have found that a lot can be learned from monitoring what is being said online about their products, services, employees, campaigns and competitors. Those a bit more advanced in social listening have found that broadening searches to cover the product category or industry can create a more holistic picture. But, is there even more to take advantage of?

More generally, brands are shifting from “push approaches” to more customer-centric models, and I believe social listening methods should follow suit. An awareness of brand mentions online can no doubt highlight how businesses can improve what they’re currently doing. But, is an understanding of past customer experiences enough to identify ways to surprise and delight in the future? Maybe consumers are already telling you how, if you listen hard enough.

What are consumers saying more generally on social media that paints a better picture of who they are - their interests and passion points, or their routines and habits? For example, could seemingly uninteresting tweets about your followers’ daily commute uncover new thoughts about when and where to advertise? Might Instagram posts of gym selfies and green juices #onthetable suggest that your community is unexpectedly health conscious and therefore your product line needs to develop to speak to this crowd? Could constant references to #tbt (or, #throwbackthursday) suggest that nostalgia-based campaigns are the way to your consumers’ heart?

It’s this broader picture that will uncover new ways for your brand to embed itself in consumers’ lives. New and unexpected brand experiences should result in greater positivity and also memorability among consumers, and we know from our work with brands that these two experience dimensions work together to solidify future brand relationships.

So, when setting up your social listening approach, it shouldn’t just be about what to listen out for but also who to listen to. Insights on consumers’ everyday lives should be gathered from on-going monitoring of a mix of different groups. Some obvious choices include current followers of the brand’s social channels and those who discuss the brand/product/category online.

Among the latter subset, consider applying our Customer Brand Relationship (CBR) Framework to identify ‘strong’, ‘at risk’ and ‘weak’ customer segments to listen to further. Manual analysis of social mentions allows us to decode these relationship signals consumers send about a brand online; understanding CBR signals in the context of consumers’ everyday lives may point to ways that ‘strong’ relationships can be maintained and ‘at risk’ relationships can be bolstered.

We could also identify product and category influencers to monitor on an on-going basis. Insight that allows for a more positive relationship with influencers is important, as brand perceptions of opinion leaders will likely have a knock-on effect among the wider audience.

To get more out of social listening, put consumers at the heart of your search. Use insights from social monitoring to improve on what has happened in the past across all business areas, react in real-time with an awareness of conversations occurring in the present, but also to discover how to create new and more meaningful experiences for your consumers in the future.

For more information contact Maryann Huynh at maryann.huynh@gfk.com.