Most of us know what social listening is. And it is not about applying an academic definition, but simply “feeling” the subject. Just for the record, let’s acknowledge that social listening is a measurement method of monitoring the web, that allows tracking what people publish on the Internet e.g. about a certain brand, person or phenomenon. I would like to underline the word “publish”, because it’s not only about a written content, but also pictures that are placed e.g. on a blog or forum, lacking any commentary.
Why does a company need social listening?
Social listening can become a source of extensive knowledge that when analyzed and wisely managed can be turned into significant business benefits.
First of all, we need to think about possibilities to acquire so-called insights that can show a broad overview on how a certain marketing campaign has been received. Furthermore, social listening let’s see what clients do and what don’t like about a brand, what would they change e.g. taste or packaging (If we think about FMCG products).
Social listening can be also successfully applied in customer care realm by interacting with both potential and current clients in building long-lasting relations with the latter. And it is not only about expressing gratitude for a product or a service that a client has purchased. It is also a perfect option in handling customer issues in other channels such as helpline.
Online monitoring is also a method that allows protecting the brand by preventing crises and that is very precious in the times of omnichannel. Quick and individual approach it’s probably the most important argument in proving that it is worth investing in social listening in social space.
What is more, social listening gives broad possibilities in monitoring the competition, because every action undertaken online leaves a trace. Thus, we can build a very broad benchmark library and realistically judge if our brand’s marketing plan was a success or would it be necessary to make some changes in the future.
Social listening manual
A distinction has to be made between social listening that concentrates on written content and the one that monitors images.
In the first case, the monitoring platform works more or less like a content search engine. It is based on an algorithm that requires us to enter keywords in order to monitor, for example, analyzed brand name. Keywords are then supplemented by so-called Boolean operators such as “AND”, “OR”, “NOT”, in order to build a “leakproof” query, that allows getting the most accurate outcome interesting in this specific context (examples below).
(“Wilkinson” AND (sword* OR hydro* OR razor* OR blade* OR shav*))
(“Wilkinson sword” ~ 5 OR “Wilkinson hydro” ~ 5 OR “Wilkinson razor” ~ 5))
After configuring the given query we click “enter” and a so-called crawler, a search engine mechanism, runs through the content that contains quotes about the given brand. In the above example it’s a brand that produces shaving accessories). Thereafter, the found content is converted into a structured format and returned as results that can be further analyzed. Speaking of the quoted case, let’s think about a counterexample (opposite example), where while entering only the word “Wilkinson” without the Boolean operators, the results would include contents about Mr/Ms Wilkinson and that won’t be useful knowledge for a marketer.
If it comes to monitoring the images analyzed indicators are shared points, curves, and particularities of the logo we are interested in. The applied technology allows finding a logo even if it is only partly displayed, of low quality or placed in the background.
It is important to remember, that regardless of the medium, whether it’s a text or an image, the above-described monitoring method allows finding the public content, excluding closed forums or private social networks.
Social listening challenges
No doubt, the challenges of social listening is facing are big. In most situations, it is due to the automated research approach.
First of all, it is crucial to cover all the monitored sources that are offered by the provider, in other words, all the channels that are scanned by the crawlers and all the mechanisms that monitor the images. Let’s imagine this situation – a topic, not necessarily favourable to the advertiser, “comes up” on Facebook. Quickly, it reaches many channels and starts to “live” on Twitter, blogs, and forums. A question should be asked how to choose a monitoring system provider that will ensure the “tightness” of the analysis so that the given topic wouldn’t escalate out of control. In this case, manual monitoring, i.e. browsing through Internet resources in order to find a thread we are interested in, comes to help.
Another challenge that social listening faces in the traditional (automated) form are complex and multithread texts. Blogs or thematic forums (e.g. parenting) are platforms for users to thoroughly describe their experience with certain marks and products by exchanging opinions. Here, once again the manual analysis (run by a human that can judge and analyze the emotional aspect of a thread) comes of help.
What counts is when a certain mark is not mentioned straightforward, but its presence comes to the light from the context (such as the above-mentioned offer or a specific for a brand type of commercial). It is similar to a case, where the name of the brand is written with a “typo”, slang or common language generally applied (such as Macca’s for McDonald’s in Australia or McDo in France). It’s another perfect example of how irreplaceable a human being is in the social listening analysis.
The network in which we are all present puts together many users. This gives a lot of impact possibilities. On one hand, users activity can boost the brand’s popularity by emphasizing the splendour. At the same time, opinion of one unsatisfied user can become a butterfly effect leading to image breakdown. On the other hand, it is important for a brand to communicate with the users with social media platforms or forums not only if it comes to complaints or instructions, but also through proactive attitude in building long-term relations. That is why from all the benefits coming from social listening one of the most important aspects is the ability to guarantee the image security, complemented with social listening monitoring and supported by a relevant communications strategy.
Michał Wiśniewski, PL Business Development Manager