The digital world is enabling brands to understand and build better relationships with their audience. We are moving into a phase where in the spirit of customer centricity brands are able to go beyond the consumer, and put the individual at the heart of their approach.
Social listening is a key facilitator of this approach. Social content is spontaneous and immediate. It opens a window into the expectations, perceptions and experiences of a growing section of the world’s population.
Social listening across the organisation
It will no longer be the case that only those with social, digital, analyst or community manager in their job title are the ones who listen, understand and act.
As the impact of social media is understood within organisations, there are few roles that will not be able to take advantage of listening. We expect to see the horizons widen far beyond the constraints of brand monitoring.
This requires social tools to adapt to multiple new internal audiences, their roles and expectations. To provide a seamless user experience offering access to insight rather than just information.
The challenge we are meeting is to rethink how to listen and deploy services at scale, from a technology and human perspective. Technology can handle the data, but the challenge of meeting the needs of different stakeholders, each with their own focus, level of maturity and need for support, is a human one. Listening partners will need to become digital transformation partners.
Social listening becomes truly global
Being global for social listening previously meant focusing on the dominant western platforms and being multilingual. However, using western social media platforms to understand Asian consumers results in skewed insights. The APAC region, with its fast moving, fundamentally different landscape has been largely ignored.
Listening can no longer avoid the particularities of the Chinese, Korean or Japanese webs. 2017 will be the year of proof and the end of promise. As western brands look to access the high-growth markets of the east, and to understand consumers in these markets, only those with real technological capacities and local knowledge will be able to provide relevant intelligence.
Social data strengthens the research mix
Listening has earned its place in the big data ecosystem. After being closely interwoven with CRM, publishing tools, and DMPs, 2017 will mark the integration of social data with traditional market research. This is not just about data, it’s a challenge to develop methodologies that are hybrid not just superimposed.
While traditional market research deals with prompted responses to understand consumers, social listening adds a source of spontaneous, unfiltered, immediate information to the mix, resulting in high-value insights.
From real-time tactics to strategic thinking
There has long been an emphasis on achieving ‘real-time’ listening to meet the needs of marketers focused on campaigns, interactions and short to mid-term goals. Though this remains valid, we see a movement towards a deeper understanding of the data: the identification of patterns, groundswell, structured movements and communities.
The beauty of social media analysis is in identifying weak signals, seeing them consolidate, and finding the precise moment when they become a trend. This requires patience but delivers rewards. 2017 will see more organisations factoring social trend analysis into strategic decisions, taking them beyond the tactical wins of real-time marketing.
The topic of digital privacy continues to gain momentum, fuelled by a number of recent consumer data breaches. Consumers are more aware of the value that their data holds for businesses and more concerned with how this data is used.
For social listening clients and providers, it means more transparency on the tacit contract between the listener and the listened-to. This is an opportunity for both, as we are interested in the individual as a ‘media’ that purposefully shares content and opinions. We listen only to those who want to be heard.
Guilhem Fouetillou, co-founder/chief evangelist officer, Linkfluence
Tel: 020 3514 4562