Done right, Social media can become a free and effective focus group for businesses and brands. Social data, derived through Social Listening, helps you better understand your audience; their opinions of you, your competitors and your market, eventually helping to uncover the mysteries of who exactly is your audience.
Malcolm Forbes once wrote that the “art of conversation lies in listening.” This is true for brands conversing with their online audience, since interacting with your audience, be it through marketing, product or customer service, should be a conversation. A conversation made more beneficial by first understanding what they are thinking & what they want… by listening.
But what can you really learn about your audience through Social Listening?
Social Listening can help brands sift through online conversations to find quality insights about their consumer base. Here are three instances (out of many more) where Social Media Listening programs can help brands understand who their audience is, what they care about and where they are.
People readily share massive amounts of information about who they are online, and if you’re using a Social Listening tool you can benefit from it. Location, age, gender, etc. All, some or most of this information is out there on most of your consumers. This is crucial because it can help you refine your campaign material when you know even the most basic demographic information about your audience – their age, gender, languages. But the great thing about Social Listening tools is that they will also let you delve even further into more sophisticated analytics like interests and affinities. You may find out, for example, that women 25-35 who you are targeting for a cosmetics campaign, are also mothers or even more specific, soccer moms, and are active around topics associated with their kids and their kids’ activities. This can really help you target your message, approach, channels of choice and /or engagement plans.
To truly know your consumers, you must know what they talk about when they are discussing your brand or product. In other words, you must be able to quickly and easily identify topics that your audience is discussing around your own topics, so that you can get ahead of the conversations, and be a part of the trending conversations that matter to your consumers. While this sounds a little complicated, it is actually quite simple with Social Listening, as you can use a tool’s Insight Tree that provides you with the keywords, terms, phrases, etc., that are being used around the specific topics and subtopics that you are tracking.
This is one of the most useful tools for brands to understand what their consumers concerns, hesitations and excitement are for a product. For example, you might be an automotive manufacturer and you learn that while your audience is concerned about the cost and the drive-quality of your products, those that are actual customers are actually praising your drive-quality, something you can take advantage of to help non-customers in your audience that are concerned about it.
Another thing that Social Listening allows brands to do is get an understanding of associated conversations. In other words, while monitoring what is being said about a specific product of yours, you can discover what your audience thinks about the entire genre of that product. This can help brands refine their messaging, get consumer advocates involved and help push potential customers to become actual customers in the most effective way possible. It is one more level of understanding your audience, how they think, what they care about and what they want.
Any Social Listening tool worth it’s salt will have some form of influencer identification that puts together a list of top influencers around your queries, topics and sub-topics that you are tracking. Each different tool uses different algorithms to determine who the influencers are, but the end result is the same for any brand, you get a list of people that you need to be engaging with.
Influencers are great for many reasons. Knowing who the influencers in your audience are can help you better understand how to target the rest of your audience and turn them into influencers. Influencers can also help sway the opinions of your audience, and it is important to know how your audience reacts to influencers. This is why it is crucial that you know who your influencers are, what they care about and how you can use them to positively affect purchase decisions of others around your products. You must tailor your outreach to please your influencers so that they will, in turn, use their influence in a positive way for your brand.
The list of things that you can learn about your audience through the use of Social Listening is endless, as is the list of how you can derive actionable and strategic insights to use for your campaign efforts. That said, this initial list is a great entry point to start thinking about the value of deriving insights about your audience. If you want to learn more about how brands are using Synthesio’s industry-leading global Social Listening platform to better understand their audience, take a look at our recent webinar about the future of Social Listening, this case study about audience insights and then reach out for a demo to see Synthesio in action.