Social media is the new word of mouth. It’s where conversations are happening organically and in real time and so it’s a great place for marketers to gain insights into what matters to consumers.
Social media listening should be an essential part of any brand’s marketing toolkit. From understanding what customers think of your products or services to gaining insight into new trends and learning what the competition is up to, it can all be found on social.
Gathering and analysing social media data can also be a great way of assessing public sentiment on current affairs and popular culture. From political debates to who the nation thinks should be the next winner of The X Factor, opinions are being voiced on social media.
Earlier this year, Jellyfish carried out some research into the EU Referendum, using social media monitoring tool Brandwatch. The four official campaign hashtags were monitored over three months to gain an insight into public sentiment. The results showed that twice as many Twitter users were using the Leave hashtags as opposed to the Remain ones, suggesting greater support for the Leave campaign.
While only 19% of the UK population actively uses Twitter and not all would have been tweeting about the EU Referendum, social data can still be used as an effective indicator of the mood of the nation. And, unlike traditional polls, opinions voiced on social media are gathered from every day chat happening in real time. As more and more conversations take place on social media, I think we are going to see an increasing trend towards using the medium to gauge public sentiment. This information can then be used by brands and organisations to inform future strategies, whether these are for election campaigning, product development or industry trend analysis.
Another example of how social listening data can be used to gather consumer opinion on current hot topics relates to the ever-popular Great British Bake Off (GBBO). Right now, Brandwatch React are listening to the conversations about the show that are happening online every Wednesday.
Every week, the team looks at the conversations around each of the contestants, the presenters and where the peak in conversations are happening. This insight could be used to determine who the public feel is the worthy winner of GBBO. For brands, this insight could be used for an agile marketing approach. For example, Holland & Barrett sent out an email soon after week two’s episode with their recipe for gluten-free Viennese whirls. Brands could use social listening to see which recipe gained the most positive sentiment mentions and develop content themed around that recipe.
While most marketers are already using social media to understand and respond to customer feedback, there’s a wider opportunity for brands and organisations to take a more creative approach to social media listening. Conversations on social media are a useful indicator of public sentiment and it’s those brands that make the most of the opportunity that this data presents that will have the edge over the competition.
Hannah Rainford is associate director of social media at Jellyfish and was a recent guest on The Drum's Social Buzz Show.