social media: Past Listening: Social Media

Geeta Lobo, Head, Social Intelligence Analysis, Ipsos India.From Geeta Lobo

The sheer reach of social data is mind-boggling – it has permeated geographic regions and User Generated Content (UGC) is full of interesting conversations on a variety of topics – brands, news, experiences, etc.

Various estimates suggest that there are around 4 billion active users worldwide who spend more than two hours online on social platforms every day and that over half of the world’s population currently have the opportunity to share information, express their opinions and theirs Ideas projecting fingertips all the time.

So it is clear that their colleagues are constantly exposed to thoughts, activities, and weaknesses that provoke reactions.

Implications for Marketing and Communication

Unexplored potential

This age of hyperconnectivity has changed the paradigm for marketers and brand managers, who are now seeing the place of influence gradually but definitely shifting towards consumers. It is as if the harmless word of mouth has acquired several superpowers at the same time. In response, social media management is finding its way into branding strategies in various sectors ranging from media to technology platform-based services, durable goods and consumer goods.

In popular belief, social data mining for insights conjures visions of misleading data collection, powerful algorithms, and complex analytics that advance shameful goals. Mind Control Visions. However, there is huge amount of data on the public forum that can be used to better understand consumers’ opinions depending on what they want to share, in accordance with GDPR guidelines and Indian data regulations.

Also read: ASCI publishes draft guidelines for influencer ads on Facebook and Twitter

Stages of using social data: There are several ways brand managers and marketers can use this data. The differences are not only in how much resources and attention are invested in social data, but also in the intentions and purposes that drive the investment. There are two clear considerations when planning investments in social media insights:

Purpose – Is it used to monitor marketing activities or also to understand consumers and categories?

Approach – Is it used for its diagnostic capabilities or is it attempted to proactively scan this data to identify opportunities and risks as they arise.

Based on the above considerations, there are four categories of social data users.

The first stage in providing social data is for marketers to drive branding campaigns using social media metrics. The most developed stage is when marketers flock in the emerging trends to inform their decisions and strategic plans. The other two categories represent a middle stage of evolution.

Beyond Listening: Social Media - A Compelling Source for Consumer Insights
Go beyond social metrics

Most marketing teams now also have a special social listening desk that processes the medium and uses influencers to make campaigns more visible. Few have checked more than just the social listening rating. Even if you push for more than just the Level 1 type of engagement, you can get promising results.

Take the example of a well-known personal care brand that has identified an emotional area that could provide the brand with greater connection and relevance to consumers’ lives. A powerful campaign aimed at getting that message across has been ignored by consumers. Social metrics confirmed which primary (survey) data was displayed. The audience did not associate communication with this brand. A typical marketing reaction would be to choose branding in advertising. However, the longer-term study of social conversations helped uncover the source of the apathy. The message, which was popular in itself, was completely inappropriate for the brand. The conversations about the brand in the period before and during the campaign showed that the outstanding advertisements associated with the brand were variants and SKUs, all of which were in a rather light-hearted emotional space.

The biggest discovery came by examining comments on negative sentiment advertising. Such negative comments are very difficult to get through direct inquiry. The rather enlightened social context shown in the advertisement made it uncomfortable for viewers. They questioned the veracity of such a message of a “family” brand, formulated in sarcastic comments about Indian culture and family values. Analyzing social data helped convey effectively. The correction required went well beyond simply improving the brand recall. Some guidance on how to refine the offering and brand narrative was also obtained.

To the understanding of the consumer

The reason social conversations can be used to do so much more is because of the nature of that data.

Sensitive tuning barometer

The data is generated spontaneously and continuously as people live their lives, an in-situ reflection of activities and thoughts. This makes it the most dynamic and sensitive barometer of perception.

Two-way mirror

The power of social data lies in the fact that it reflects the perception of the population and is a central source of information that shapes this perception. It’s both the communication and the answer at once. In most markets we are now seeing growing segments of people who primarily rely on social media for important information like breaking news.
Driver of behavior change

also read:: Industry Response: ASCI Draft Influencer Marketing Guidelines will make it mainstream

It is also a powerful influence on behavior change. Information from social media can be demonstrated in a more reliable way and enable social validation, both of which are important levers for behavior change.

A more sophisticated approach to harnessing social data would involve harnessing these superpowers. In a recent collaboration with a multi-category manufacturer, social data was broken down for whitespaces in the health and wellness sectors. The investigation into the pandemic talks identified four well-defined wellness and health areas that are relevant to the category in question. Further analysis revealed which of them were most undersupplied. Finally, by comparing the trend of these demand spaces with the trends from search data, we were able to identify the spaces that had immediate potential. The team in question is now closely monitoring these spaces based on social conversations, paying attention to both trends and changes in the nature of these need spaces.

Marketers and strategic roles in various sectors have recognized the need to leverage social data. However, this is only the beginning of a journey. Given the nature of this data and its inherent powers, it can transform the way consumer insights influence marketing decisions. Improved data analysis functions and a growing number of social media users will only accelerate this development. More advanced use of social data insights is the best we can do to really understand consumers’ minds.

The author is the managing director of Social Intelligence Analytics (SIA), Ipsos India. The views expressed are personal.

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