Why Social Listening Isn’t Enough
Peter Panda

It should be obvious by now that listening to online conversations about your brand is not just empowering and informative, it’s also an imperative practice for any marketing effort. Whether it’s positioned as a customer service activity, a quick and dirty feedback mechanism or a crisis management tool, social listening ensures that your company is either aware or, preferably, participating in conversations about your brand.

But the tools that provide us with the ability to listen to online conversations have become more sophisticated over the years. Even the elementary ones, when used properly, can help you discover way more than what your audience thinks of you. By leveraging natural language processing (NLP), filtration of themes and even behavioral words such as “buy,” “use” or “need,” it is possible to have a deeper level of intelligence to help your marketing.

For example, we recently did a dive into online conversations about dinner for a prospective client pitch. The chart you see below is a readout of the net sentiment and passion intensity around the online conversations about dinner. (Thanks NetBase!)

Dinner conversation - from NetBase

The passion intensity is fairly even throughout the calendar year, but the net sentiment (a NetBase score that essentially shows how positive or negative the conversation is; the higher the score, the more positive the sentiment) has a dramatic drop in August and September.

When you see spikes or dips, you ask “Why?” a lot. As we dove into the conversations to see where the negativity was coming from, we saw that moms speak negatively about fixing dinner around back-to-school time. It becomes a pain point for them again after having more flexibility with schedules during the summer months. Now they have to get back to planning ahead more because they’re juggling after-school activities and the like.

Isn’t it nice that a brand that produces content for moms, dads or even just foodies can use this to inform its content strategy around back-to-school months?

If you are just “listening” for mentions of your brand or certain issues online, you’re going to miss these types of opportunities. Diving into the trends and themes of what people are saying online is a largely untapped market research opportunity for you.

Social listening is important. Not just for your social media strategy, but for your overall marketing strategy, too. But don’t stop there. Dive into your tool of choice and see how many consumer insights you can glean from the data. If you do, your marketing will at least be better informed.

What cool insights have you discovered while looking at social listening data? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.


Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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