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Monitoring what matters: Social listening post 2020

A live webinar hosted by The Drum, in partnership with Meltwater looked at the state of social listening and audience research.

It is imperative that brands find ever more innovative ways of conducting deep audience research, to keep pace with a world that is ever in flux. Social listening tools have emerged in recent years as an effective means of gleaning these crucial audience insights in real time.

A live webinar hosted by The Drum, in partnership with Meltwater looked at the state of social listening and audience research. The webinar also showcased how Agatha Christie Ltd uses media intelligence to craft a content marketing strategy that captivates.

Hosted by The Drum Network editor, Chris Sutcliffe, the webinar also offers advice from our experts on how to deploy social listening to your brand’s benefit. Speakers include Panasonic head of digital marketing and brand communications, Anand Narayanan; Meltwater head of marketing for Meltwater in the UK and Ireland, Wesley Mathew; and Agatha Christie Ltd digital marketing manager, Sarah Thrift.

How does social listening differ from the standard practice of brands being active on social?

For Mathew, many brands use social media platforms as channels through which they respond to their audience. Their content marketing strategy is pre-determined by a marketing team, before it is disseminated across various channels, unchanged by real time trends. However, applying social listening tools will allow brand to create more agile and relevant content, all year round. “It lets your brand create captivating experiences and allows you to start conversations with your audience, based on their interests and behaviour,” he says.

Mathew further cites the ability of social listening in determining production. For instance, shoe brand Toms, conducted in-depth social listening and discovered that a significant portion of its audience were fans of My Little Pony. Toms subsequently teamed up with Hasbro to design and release a limited edition My Little Pony shoe; and the design sold out in 48 hours.

Narayanan explains how social listening tools can be used to promote brand awareness. “Many consumers immediately associate Panasonic with TVs or cameras,” he says. “To raise the profile of our lesser known products, like beauty brands, we used social listening.” Panasonic was then able to better understand how to make its offering more relevant to the audience. He stresses the importance of cultivating specific content for audiences, based on social listening recommendations: “Trying to be everything to everyone, makes you nothing to anyone.”

How is social activity quantified when so much of it is subjective?

The question of which social media metrics, or activity, “should be measured” is often posed when making use of social listening tools. Mathew acknowledged however, that social media marketing does not exist within a vacuum, and the KPIs that should garner focus should also align with the very same markers that represent business progress.

Mathew continued, if one were to consider measuring brand visibility across industry competitors, social listening tools could yield both a quantifiable ranking of share of voice as well as a breakdown of positive vs. negative sentiment, which could then be used as a leading indicator for market trends in forthcoming weeks and months.

He highlighted the Meltwater platform, where brands can track the number of times that they or their product is mentioned and compare it with competitors. This information is invaluable for contextualising the brand, learning what is working and what can be improved.

This is a view supported by Narayanan, who adds: “It is tempting to set obvious KPIs, such as follower growth, but these must be adjusted depending on what you really want to achieve.”

How are brands able to integrate these social listening findings into wider marketing strategies?

While the pandemic has been difficult to manoeuvre for many brands, the panel agreed it has highlighted the intrinsic importance of listening to your audience. For Thrift, there has been a real push towards finding “comfort in the classics” during this global crisis, driving more Agatha Christie fans than ever to engage with the brand. Using a combination of social listening and fan feedback, the brand has constructed a robust marketing strategy based on these findings. “It gave us the chance to really flip the pandemic situation to our advantage and create an even more real community of fans than before.”

Mathew believes that social listening affords brands an opportunity to tap into the pulse of their community in real time. Brands have a duty to pay attention to the needs and concerns of their audience and to make sense of what they need now.

This is illustrated by Narayanan, who used Panasonic’s decision to meet the needs of customers stuck at home, to direct their content output. Using influencers and photographers, Panasonic commissioned a series of How-To videos for its LUMIX community at home. These videos, according to him, recorded a high engagement rate.

Where does social listening fit within the broader set of tools marketers use to build buyer personas today?

Despite its popularity, Mathew concluded that social listening is by no means the most relied upon audience research tool in marketing today. Instead, it is actually more traditional methods like surveys that are more commonly used.

“The problem with this, is that circumstances change - for example, consumer needs and behaviour at the start of the year have done a complete 180 in the last two months. With social listening however, the data is never static; it moves with the customer and is always up-to-date.”

To learn more about the benefits of social listening and how it can be used to amplify your marketing strategy, check out The Drum x Meltwater webinar here.

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