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By Michael Nutley, Writer for The Drum

September 7, 2022 | 8 min read

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In a new webinar, NetBase Quid’s Jackie Balchin shares five key lessons for brands to turn raw social and online data into insights to drive real business results.

five key lessons for brands

Five key lessons about data for brands

We’ve all heard that data is the new oil but, actually, data is more like the new crude oil. It takes a lot of work to turn crude oil into something useful like petrol or aviation fuel. And after that, you need to make sure you’re putting the right stuff into your car or your airplane.

Data is the same. There’s a lot of work to be done to turn raw data into insights, and you need to make sure you’re using the right insights to drive your business.

To look at turning data into insight in more depth, The Drum partnered with consumer and market intelligence platform NetBase Quid to produce a webinar, Get More From Your Data: Finding The Consumer & Market Insights That Actually Matter.

In it, Jackie Balchin, senior social strategist at NetBase Quid, explains the importance of continuously monitoring what your customers, your competitors, and your competitors’ customers are saying, not just on social media but also in blogs and the news media, and putting that in the context of your data as well as broader business data.

Balchin has five key lessons that brands need to be aware of:

1. Go beyond the numbers

Companies and brands tend not to look behind their sentiment scores to find out what’s driving them. But doing so will show you what people really like about you – so you can do more of it – and can also spark ideas for other activities, products, content etc. You’ll also find out if there are things people don’t like.

“Once you discover these conversations, it’s really important to track them,” Balchin says. “Track the topics with positive sentiment to make sure it’s not diminishing. Likewise with your negative sentiment categories, ensure that the changes you’re making are making those numbers go down.”

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2. Get granular

You need to break conversations down into smaller sub-topics in order to avoid overlooking issues that are just beginning to emerge.

“Having a tool that scans conversations for sentiment and groups them is a super-powerful way to take away your bias, and allows you to find your blindspots and opportunities. Once you’ve done that, bring it back into your monitoring. See whether it’s something consumers are still talking about, or not talking about. Could you do something to re-instigate that conversation? Or, if it’s a problem and you think you’ve fixed it, has it stopped being a topic of conversation?”

3. Benchmark yourself against the competition

Don’t just stick to market share or share of voice. Compare how you score against your competitors for all the sub-topics, all the individual drivers of conversations.

“You may be the market leader overall, but there may be some segments where you’re not,” she says. “Those segments may be insignificant for you right now, but some day they might be the reason why your challenger brand overtakes you, because you weren’t paying attention to the little conversation drivers that were slowly getting eaten up by a competitor.”

4. Don’t just measure success in social by the amount of noise

According to Balchin, brands tend to monitor the success of a campaign in terms of impressions and engagements. It’s much less common to benchmark it against all the other content the brand is producing at the time, and against other data from the business.

“Campaign success is not just a case of hey, there’s lots of volume about it, there’s lots of impressions around it,” she explains. “It’s also understanding whether or not the campaign has had any impact on the purchase funnel. That allows you to say okay, the campaign may not have had much volume, but during this time, the purchase indicators have increased. It’s not an exact correlation, but it’s a soft metric that you can add to your campaign reporting.”

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5. Keep track of what’s being said across your whole sector

Don’t just focus on what people are saying about you. By monitoring and clustering conversations about your entire industry, you can gain insight and spot opportunities.

Balchin analyzes the meal kit delivery sector to illustrate this point: “We can say within the meal delivery conversation, consumers are talking about affordability and subscriptions. But they’re also talking about giving this meal delivery service as a gift for new mums. So if you’re HelloFresh or Gousto, that’s potentially a new product offering, or a new marketing campaign, a business innovation, perhaps even a new partnership.

“If I had just looked at a word cloud, that topic might not have been visible, because you just see the key words. Grouping the conversations by commonalities can help you find an opportunity or spot an issue that might be happening.”

As a final word of advice, Balchin stresses the importance of carrying out this monitoring constantly.

“This is not just something you can dip into and then look at again in a year, or every three months or six months,” she says. “This is something that is always evolving. Social chatter, customer opinion is always changing. You need to be able to discover conversations, or discover new companies entering the market, new patterns coming into the market, and then be able to monitor how these things are evolving through time.”

To watch The Drum and NetBase Quid’s webinar Get More From Your Data: Finding The Consumer & Market Insights That Actually Matter in full, click here.

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