For years, brands have been using social listening platforms to listen to conversations about their products, services, executives, and competitors. In the beginning, it made sense. Looking at brand mentions by volume was an interesting insight. Many companies would track volume over time as a metric that defines relevance. More mentions would equal higher relevance. That of course is a flawed metric.
Today, social listening platforms have built more innovative capabilities, allowing brands to move beyond just counting mentions of a brand or topic. Tracking sentiment, emotion, engagement are just a few data points that can be extracted from social listening across news, blogs, social media and forums.
More importantly with keyword filtering and clustering, brands can now understand the context of the conversation. This is probably the most innovative and important feature that social listening platforms provide their customers.
For example, in the early days, it would be common to provide the following insight: Over the last 12 months, there’s been a large conversation in the Reddit forum, there is a large volume of conversations about artificial intelligence and machine learning.
While that insight is somewhat actionable, today with social listening and insight might look more like this: We have explored two different Subreddits, both of which describe themselves as being topically about artificial intelligence. In one Subreddit, the conversation is specific to scaling, integrating and migrating AI programs to the cloud. They mentioned “brand A” 5X more than they mentioned “brand B” within this context. In the other Subreddit, the conversation revolves mainly around security and no brands or vendors are mentioned at all.
This type of social analysis provides deeper insight into the psychology and context of the artificial intelligence conversations happening on Reddit. Similarly, imagine doing analysis around the same topic but specific to a media publication like Forbes. The ability to understand what journalists are writing about is extremely actionable to PR professionals. The data can inform pitches, editorial, email subject lines, and other forms of communications to be more relevant.
In many cases, social media listening platforms allow for building audiences around specific variables like bio search, content, follower relationships and brand mentions. Once the audience is built, it is not difficult to listen to their conversations over a certain date range and by topic.
So imagine building an audience of engineers and tracking their conversations and share data around AI, security and cloud computing. Counting mentions in this scenario might be insightful, but imagine being able to understand the context of what keeps engineers up at night when writing code. Perhaps it's scale, integration or maybe the technology that they're using isn't as effective as they thought.
This type of data is actionable on so many different levels.
It can inform sales teams on how to overcome objections or address issues that are top of mind for their audience. Being able to extract URL share data can help PR professionals prioritize which media publications they want to pitch based on the volume of mentions of a specific media publication. It can also inform headlines, social content, blogs, white papers and eBooks, as well as the keywords and phrases that brands are bidding on in paid search. Lastly, it can inform FAQ documents or social media responses from customer care teams based on the issues that certain audiences are discussing on social media.
To recap, it is critical that when building the social listening program, that channels are segmented and that different data sources are used to find the most valuable and actionable insights. Whether it's segmenting Reddit into multiple queries, analyzing one media publication or a set of media publications, or building an audience that reflects your customers and listening to what's trending within their conversations, the opportunities are endless.
The net of all this is that social media listening can do so much more than track conversational trends, a number of mentions and even cursory sentiment. When done right and when selecting the right data source, social listening can provide strong brand insights in an effort to uncover market white space.