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How marketers can tap into the world’s largest consumer focus group – through social listening

Watch on demand: 'Understanding the social & media insights that actually matter' webinar in partnership with NetBase Quid

It’s no secret that social and media analytics can offer game changing insights into audience behavior and help companies gain a clearer, more comprehensive picture of key areas of performance, but social and media analytics only carry so much weight on their own. Without a deep understanding of consumers and the ability to measure performance and ROI accurately and consistently, businesses struggle to tap into the full potential of their analytics.

A recent webinar, Understanding the Social & Media Insights that Actually Matter, featuring Michael Baglietto, the global director of product marketing at NetBase Quid; Shelina Taki, director of strategic planning and consumer insights at PMG; and Leyla Foschi, account supervisor for client strategy at PMG, explored the crucial social and media data points marketers need to monitor in order to stay ahead of the competition and turn analytics into action to help fuel long-term business growth.

The boundaries between a person’s digital and ‘real life’ have become blurred; there is little to no distinction between these two worlds, so it’s vital to look at touch points holistically and build integrated campaigns with that in mind, explained Taki.

“No one was born a consumer, but everyone is born a human – we don’t just look at where individuals are spending their time in terms of media, but why they are frequenting certain spaces, the motivations and feelings that brought them there,” she said.

It’s a conversation – not a handoff

For brands to put the right message in front of the right user at the right time and ensure personalized connections that strike the right sentiment and exposure for the brand, the answer lies in leveraging audience insights that help to really understand consumers’ motivations and behaviors.

“Our approach to audience connection comes to life at the intersection of data-driven insights and cultural context – we can’t have one without the other,” said Taki.

PMG outlined how it uses grounded theory research and analytics to help dictate its hypothesis – using syndicated resources and in-depth research, including consumer segmentation. From there, it moves into primary research – “our preferred methodology for understanding target audiences and how they feel about a certain industry or brand through social listening”.

“If we see an overarching sentiment or the same question pop up in the context of a brand, we’ll go back to the syndicated research to answer those questions or fill any gaps – it’s a conversation, it’s not a handoff,” added Taki.

Social listening – the world’s largest focus group

Through the analytics of social and media, data enables brands to build better relationships with consumers by showing how they are consuming content, what they are sharing and communicating across all the different virtual and digital platforms, as well as understanding their motivations and passions to help drive that brand narrative.

“People are pretty unfiltered on these digital channels and it gives you a lot of insights into how they think or feel, what their preferences are and things that are starting to connect with them, which you can use as a starting point for additional research,” said Baglietto.

“We like to think of social media and social listening as the world’s largest focus group,” said Taki. “People are not inhibited, so you get those really true, raw feelings and points of view about a brand or industry that you wouldn’t get in another space. Consumers will tell you what you need to know and point you in the right direction.”

To understand and find an authentic way into hearts and minds, businesses should start with human sentiment, but also place equal importance on market data. Social media analytics can be utilized not just to inform campaigns but to learn how to iterate upon them to inform future campaigns and track sentiment analysis over time.

People make data, data doesn’t make people

Analysis is only becoming of greater importance as consumer narratives change and people demand more from the brands they buy. Without the right kind of insight, it’s tough to have a feedback loop back to brands – and that is where brands are missing the mark.

“The data we see as marketers only tells us half the story – we have to take the time to dig into those motivations, aspirations and cultural shifts that matter to the individuals we’re trying to forge that genuine connection with,” said Taki. “More often than not, those details we’re seeking are not going to be available via the usual research suspects that we’ve had for decades. We have to adapt our research practices and methodologies to dig deeper and tell the story of the human, not the consumer.”

As a final word of advice, Baglietto says marketers should step back and look at the big picture.

“It’s great to read sound bites and see what an individual post says on any given subject, but step back and see how that conversation has evolved over time, segmented by different aspects of your product or service,” he said. “If you really understand which parts of your product actually move the consumers in positive and negative ways, then you can be very effective in communicating your message.”

Watch the full webinar on demand here.

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