You come home after a long day at work. With a simple voice command for your Amazon Echo or Google Home device, you can start your washer, change the temperature of your home, or lower the brightness of the living room lights. Your iRobot Roomba has just finished vacuuming the floors and is automatically docking to recharge. Your refrigerator sends you a phone notification that you’re out of orange juice. This is the interconnected smart home. With almost every part of our lives connected to the Internet (literally), today’s consumers prefer sharing their reviews, opinions, and technical difficulties online. That’s why we decided to do what we do best: social media monitoring for the home of the future.

What does the smart home refer to?

The smart home falls under the umbrella of what we call the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This refers to any Internet-connected physical device, not including smartphones, computers, and other devices that, by definition, are connected to the Internet. Earlier this year, the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated a 16.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the global smart home devices market between 2019 and 2023. By 2023, the expected valuation for this market is $85 billion USD, and the number of IoT devices around the world will total over 15 billion.

Why is social media monitoring critical here?

The building blocks of our very homes have changed. More visibly than ever before, the Internet is now a part of our physical living space. But what about the way we communicate? That’s changing too. Let us explain.

Last year, four in ten Internet users used voice commands or voice search every month. Every second, another 127 devices gain Internet connection. As we become increasingly accustomed to communicating with AI-powered assistants, like Alexa and Google Assistant, we also grow familiar with sharing our thoughts and opinions on a virtual space. More so than ever before, we turn to the Internet to express our ideas or questions – often in real-time.

When it comes to smart devices, where are online conversations taking place? Unsurprisingly, Twitter is the preferred platform of choice. But, notice how forums, like Reddit, are the third most popular platform, followed by what we call “Consumer Opinions,” which refer to reviews on sites like Best Buy and Amazon. If you want to understand what people are saying about IoT devices, these virtual spaces are where you need to go.

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Let’s look at some concrete examples to see this in action.

Smart Refrigerators: The Next Big Thing?

According to a market report by Grand View Research, the market for smart refrigerators is expected to grow at 13.7% CAGR from 2018 to 2025. By 2025, the global valuation of the smart refrigerator market will reach nearly $625 million USD. It’s exceedingly likely, then, that the next fridge you purchase will be connected to the Internet and have an interactive LCD screen.

But, first things first, what exactly does a smart refrigerator do? Some of its powerful features include reading recipes aloud, creating grocery lists that sync with your phone, and temperature customization for each compartment. They also have interior cameras that let you remotely see what groceries are in your fridge. Say goodbye to guessing how many eggs you have left! Or that fun game of opening and closing the refrigerator when you’re hungry, in hopes of finally finding something to eat!

Do online conversations say anything about the future of the smart refrigerator industry? For starters, our trend detection technology found a massive correlation between conversations about smart refrigerators and smart homes. That means conversations about both topics – individually – evolve similarly.

Could it be that smart refrigerators are the next big thing in our interconnected homes?

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Social Media Monitoring for Smart Refrigerators

Despite the smart fridge’s newly implemented features, some people are not so keen on the idea. We decided to look at sentiment analysis of smart refrigerators over time. While the online sentiment is mainly positive, there are points where the two trends lines overlap or come close to overlapping. What might be the cause of this?

Let’s start with the good news. Here’s what smart fridge users are happy about: the interior camera and the photo display feature.

As simple as it sounds, staying on top of positive feedback helps companies understand which features are well-received.  Having this information can then help developers and engineers further improve user experience.

On the flip side, however, unsatisfied customers are also sharing their opinions online.

Notice how this user directly tweeted at Samsung’s Support account. This tweet exemplifies the consumer tendency to turn to social media first (rather than, perhaps, the company website) when questions or complaints arise. In fact, TIME reported that one-third of millennials have used social media to get help and support from companies. In the example we used above, the Samsung support account asked the user to send his feedback to the official Samsung page. For many consumers, it’s social media first, company website second.

But what about instances where complaints aren’t aired on Twitter, Facebook, or widely trafficked platforms? What if grievances are posts on niche forums or Reddit threads?

Social Media Monitoring of More Than Just Social Media

Let’s take a look at the less-discussed side of the Internet.

In April 2019 alone, Reddit, a social news aggregation site, had over 1.6 billion visits, making it one of the most popular websites online. Quora, a Q&A website, had 300 million monthly visitors. And let’s consider the numerous sites dedicated to parenting, baking, fishing, movie reviews, weightlifting – you name it! Whatever hobby or interest you can think of, there’s a website dedicated to it. A shared interest often builds a healthy community, where people trust each other’s reviews and opinions. What people say on these forums, threads, and websites can have a significant impact on consumer behavior. It matters.

Just take a look at this frustrated smart refrigerator user. He complained about his Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator on a discussion board called ComplaintsBoard and even included the model number.

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How can Samsung address this person if they haven’t seen this post? Who’s reading this post, and how might it deter people from getting a Samsung smart refrigerator? How will the company be made aware of this malfunction?

Engaging in thorough and ongoing social media monitoring can solve these problems. Remember that social media monitoring isn’t just about social media now. It’s more than that. It’s the entire Internet.

Social Media Monitoring of General Opinions

We’ve seen how some smart refrigerator users have turned to the Internet to express frustration or dissatisfaction. But what about people who don’t currently use a smart refrigerator? How do they feel about it? Let’s take a look.

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Turns out, not so great. The primary complaint against the smart fridge is its purpose. Many think that it’s overcomplicating an otherwise straightforward appliance.

But what if there’s a better way to market this?

Using Social Media Monitoring to Redirect Marketing Campaigns

Smart refrigerators solve one critical problem: food waste. This problem is particularly prevalent in India, which has one of the highest populations in the world. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), over 20% of purchased food in India is discarded. The technology of smart refrigerators can address this problem by monitoring the shelf life of food in the home and alerting users of anticipated food spoilage. Already, Silicon Valley startups are using IoT to reduce food waste, like CoInspect and Zest Labs Inc.

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To reduce apprehension and negative sentiment toward smart refrigerators, marketers need a compelling angle, like presenting smart refrigerators as a solution to food waste. Robust social media monitoring can allow brands to develop new marketing initiatives in real-time in response to what online citizens are saying.

What’s next?

There’s no doubt about it: the ways we live and engage are changing fast. Internet-connected homes are here to stay. We can ask our washing machines to start the drying cycle. Our smart fridges can make grocery lists for us. We read online reviews or watch YouTube videos before we make big purchases. Instead of calling a customer service representative, we turn to the Internet to find answers on online forums. That’s why social media monitoring tools should go hand in hand with today’s companies and manufacturers. Don’t miss out on valuable insights. Request a demo today.