Here are all of the posts tagged ‘listening’.

Social Brands: Listen and Learn

by Simon Kemp in News

As we saw in a previous post in this Social Brands series, marketing is all about creating mutually beneficial exchanges of value.

The nature of that value exchange will vary between brands and audiences and over time, but in order for marketers to deliver maximum value to their brands, it holds that they need to understand what value looks like for their audiences.

This isn’t just a case of asking people what they want, though; as Steve Jobs astutely pointed out,

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” (from this great collection of Jobs quotes)

If you want to deliver real value to people, you need to understand them as people: their behaviour, their attitudes and beliefs, their motivations… In short, you need to understand their lives.

Conventional marketing research is great at finding specific answers to specific questions, but the real magic for marketers lies in modern-day anthropology – not the 19th Century ‘home-stay in Borneo’ variety, but a fresh, always-on digital approach to meaningful people-watching.

Enter Social Media Listening
Every day, hundreds of millions of people all over the world share valuable insights and information about themselves via publicly accessible social media.

Not all of these posts mention brands, but that doesn’t mean they’re not of value to marketers.

Indeed, almost all public posts can help inquisitive marketers to build a rich understanding of their audiences that they couldn’t gather elsewhere.

Even the much-bemoaned practice of posting “photos of my lunch” can reveal powerful insights into an audiences’ worldview: do they opt for expensive restaurants? Do they look for healthy alternatives? Do they mention brand names or generic topics?

When we explore people’s social media activities with an open mind, we’re almost certain to find something of value.

However, almost all marketers miss this value, because they’re too busy ‘listening’ for explicit mentions of brand names or campaign hashtags.

As a result, we’re leaving far too many rich insights uncovered in the feed.

Big Data vs Big Insights
One of the reasons we’re missing this value is that marketers are often too egocentric when it comes to their brands.

This isn’t a judgment on marketers as people, mind – more often than not, this selfish focus is driven by a the demands of the quarterly sales cycle, and the quick wins that are invariably the easiest ways to achieve short-term targets often come at the cost of seeing (or seizing) bigger, longer-term opportunities.

This focus on ‘delivering the numbers’ means marketers spend too much time looking for ways to insert themselves into conversation.

Put simply, we spend too much time looking for opportunities to interrupt people.

But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Indeed, this interruptive approach – even though it’s become ‘industry standard’ – contravenes one of the most important rules of effective communication: when you’re talking with someone, actively listen to what they’re saying, and don’t simply wait for your turn to speak.

Sadly, too many brands don’t even wait for their turn to speak though; they’ve become used to interrupting audiences whenever they have sufficient budget.

Even amongst those brands that do listen, most only do so on an ad-hoc basis, usually by using traditional market research techniques to ask a series of brand-oriented questions.

This approach does offer a certain value, of course, but the danger is that marketers only pay attention to a summary of aggregated findings, and miss out on the opportunity to dig deeper into the motivations and contexts behind people’s statements and behaviour.

In order to become more successful, marketers need to move beyond this ‘brand egocentrism’, and start to think of their brand’s activities in the broader context of people’s whole lives.

We need to spend more time actively getting to know our audiences, and being personally involved in the listening process.

Social Listening vs Social Monitoring
Fortunately, rich insights are readily available to marketers with the willingness to listen.

By paying attention to the statements and conversations that people share in public social media, we can gain a far deeper understanding of what people actually want, need and desire.

We don’t need to collect everything in one go, either; by spending just 5 minutes a day actively listening to the conversations of a subset of your audience, you’ll quickly gain an affinity for the things they care about.

More importantly, these insights can add value well beyond your social media activities too; most people (i.e. non-marketers) use social media to talk about a wide variety of their everyday lives, so proactive listening can inform every aspect of your brand’s value proposition: advertising, packaging, CSR opportunities, in-store activities, and even R&D:

We Are Social - Brand Value Via Social Listening

In order to do this effectively, though, we need to move beyond ‘ego monitoring’.

Instead of listening only to what people are saying about your brand, use more generic keyword terms in your searches.

For example, if you’re a shampoo brand, don’t just listen out for mentions of Pantene, Dove and Head & Shoulders; ultimately, people don’t pay for shampoo, they pay for beautiful hair, so listen out for the broader conversations they’re having about hair.

By adopting this broader approach, you’ll quickly gain insights into people’s problems and motivations, their preferences and their needs.

Furthermore, by moving beyond the simplistic measurement of ego metrics like share of voice or campaign engagement, you’ll start to find opportunities to join organic audience conversations where your brand can actually add real value, without needing to interrupt them.

We Are Social - Listen & Measure

The bigger opportunity in social media listening is that it can help us use communications to add value and become welcome participants in bigger conversations.

Getting Started
The first step towards uncovering these rich insights is to identify who you want to listen to.

Don’t restrict this definition to your consumers; listening to broader groups such as influencers, advocates, detractors and even NGOs and regulators can help add rich and unexpected insights.

Once you’ve defined your audience, you’ll need to find where they are in public social media.

You don’t need to find everyone in your audience of course, and you certainly don’t need to analyse every one of their posts.

The way I usually get started is to find a few dozen people talking about something generic (but brand-relevant) on Twitter, and then read through some of their other recent posts. Inevitably this will include some photos of lunch, but I start to get an affinity for who they are as real people.

Once you do this a few times, you’ll probably want to adopt a more systematic approach.

Start by putting together a simple list of keywords, and make a regular ‘appointment’ to listen to the people who’re talking about them.

Select a few people from these conversations at random, and take some time to listen to what they’re saying about other things too; this way, you’ll quickly build up an intuitive understanding of your audience that goes well beyond demographics.

Using social listening tools can help make your anthropological efforts more effective too; harness the power of always-on listening tools like Tweetdeck and HootSuite, as well as powerful aggregators like Sysomos and Radian6.

There’s a host of great, free listening tools out there too, so don’t let budgets stop you – I regularly use socialmention, addictomatic and twazzup, and great new tools launch all the time.

Once you have your tools set up, you’ll only need to listen for a few minutes every day before you start to identify new ways to add value to your audiences’ lives and to your brand’s bottom line.

Go on, try it out now.

This post first appeared on The Wall Blog. To read more in the Social Brands & The Future of Marketing series, click here.

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Social media in 2010

by Sandrine Plasseraud in News Google+

Mobile internet has grown immensely in 2009 and according to the latest TrendsSpotting report it will be at the heart of social media in 2010:

Mobile social media
In the report, David Armano says “mobile becomes a social media lifeline”: on the basis that nearly 70% of organisations ban social networking in the workplace, mobile internet will be a lifeline for addicted workers and what was once a cigarette break could turn into a social media break.

Dan Zarella predicts that with the rise of augmented reality, the border between the web and reality will become increasingly blurred.

As people trust other people online when it comes to forming an opinion about a product or service, the growth of the mobile internet will mean this increasingly occurs at the point of consumption. Imagine you’re in a shop, hesitating between two vacuum cleaners. What do you do? Do you ask the salesman or you check out independent consumer reviews via your mobile?

With the development of geolocation apps, this principle also applies to restaurants, bars, hotels, etc.. You’re travelling to Paris for business, you’ve just finished your meeting in a neighborhood that you’re not familiar with and you’re looking for a restaurant to have lunch? What do you do? Check out the reviews of the local brasseries on your mobile on Yelp, of course.

Social media goes up the agenda of organisations
The good news is that in 2010 companies seem to have plans to invest seriously in social media. According to BizReport, social media is a priority for marketers: more than half of respondents (56.3%) had planned to include social media in their marketing mix.

This is in line with the TrendsSpotting report where many social media players talk about the growing importance of social media for organisations.

According to Charlene Li, “social media will become part of everyday lexicon for business in 2010″ while for Adam Cohen, “Social media gets smarter”: companies will start using social media more strategically.

For Connie Benson, “social media will shift from being experimental to metrics and the loop will be closed so that social media monitoring is necessary and actionable”.

David Armano highlights that as of today, very few organisations have used social media beyond campaigns. He uses Best Buy as a benchmark of a company that has really managed to leverage social media strategically (Robin wrote about Best Buy and social media a few months ago).

David Armano goes further by predicting the mass adoption of social media policies in companies in 2010: specific rules of engagement across different social networks, rules on how employees’ participation in social media.

I agree with David. This year, companies will understand the importance of investing for the long term in social media rather than just on specific campaigns – as Robin put it, “stop campaigning and start committing”.

What was already important for brands in 2009 becomes crucial in 2010: listening to and participating in online conversations as they have a real impact on people’s opinions. Even more so now that Google and Microsoft have incorporated the real-time social web at the core of their search algorithms: Today, when researching a brand, you’ll surely find tweets about it.

Already this year Pepsi has dropped its Super Bowl advertising spend (after 23 consecutive years) to invest in social media in 2010, which implies these predictions may have some weight…

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We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #4

by Jordan Stone in News Google+

Social networks are making people more likely to complain online
LexisNexis last week announced the results of a survey that should make brand managers / online marketers / customer service departments take notice:

  • Just over half polled said that if they are unhappy with something they have bought or used they will complain about it online
  • 60% of people have chosen not to buy or use a product or service after reading negative comments about them online
  • 67% of complainants made online were ignored, leaving customers to act as detractors online

The lesson is that companies who fail to monitor their brand online are missing an important opportunity to turn unhappy customers around, or gain new ones if negative comments aren’t addressed.

PR community split over paying bloggers in PRWeek poll
A straw poll run on PR Week about whether it is acceptable to pay bloggers for favourable coverage divided the PR community last week. 57 per cent agreed that it was unethical to pay blogger, but “a significant minority (43 per cent) believed that it was acceptable for bloggers to accept such payments”. A surprising finding indeed, and Robin was quoted in the article responding:

The results of the PRWeek poll only show the naivety towards social media in the PR industry; they haven’t got their heads round it and aren’t set up for it.

ITV.com on social media and engagement
This interview with ITV’s social media manager Ben Ayers makes for an interesting read, as he discusses key platforms used by ITV to get closer to fans (notably Facebook and Twitter) and his views on future growth areas for social media in general. Listening to the opinions of fans and feeding this back into production is a core element of ITV’s online activity, as is working with a wide variety of stakeholders (web editors, operations teams, show producers) in order to maintain their social media presences.

The Battle of Big Thinking
Last week was Campaign and APG’s Battle of Big Thinking at the British Library, an annual event where leading strategists compete for the coveted ‘biggest thinker’ prize. We Are Social’s very own Sandrine Plasseraud was up against Jeremy Ettinghausen, digital publisher at Penguin and VCCP’s Amelia Torrode. In case you missed it, Gordon Macmillan, Haymarket’s social media & international editor, captured it all in his ‘live blog’ of the day.

Study: Inc. 500 CEOs Aggressively Use Social Media for Business
The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth conducted a study for the third year in a row, about the usage of social media among Inc. 500 companies. Respondents were asked about their usage and familiarity with six types of social media tools (blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, message boards, and wikis) and according to the study, social media usage has definitely grown in the last year:

  • 91% of companies (compared to 77% in 2008) reported that they use at least one social media tool

Some other interesting finds:

  • 44 percent of companies without a company blog say they plan to start one
  • 34 percent of companies reported that they were using social media to communicate with vendors and suppliers

The key takeaway is that smaller organizations are innovating with social media marketing strategies, as there is more room to “for innovation because it requires less processes to adopt”.

LinkedIn hits 3 million members in the UK
Professional social networking site LinkedIn reached an important milestone last week, when it announced they’ve racked up 3 million members in the UK on the company’s blog.

We’ve watched the British professional community take to the site with the sort of industrious enthusiasm that typifies the way business is done in this country.

On that note, perhaps this is a good time to mention our LinkedIn group?

Twitter Declared Most Popular English Word of 2009
And last but not least, the Global Language Monitor, which tracks language trends, declared Twitter this year’s Most Popular Word in English… Enough said.

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Monitoring Social Media

by Luke Brynley-Jones in News

Monitoring Social Media 09 is taking place in London this coming Tuesday. The organiser, Luke Brynley-Jones, talks about the inspiration for the event and what it aims to achieve.

In the dying days of the summer, Asi Sharabi wrote a late night rant about the state of social media monitoring. He directed his anger squarely at the many social media monitoring services that have emerged in recent years, highlighting dodgy results, issues with data, limitations in sentiment detection and often somewhat overblown claims of what can be achieved.

As it turns out, Asi wasn’t alone in his frustration. His post struck a chord with people that resonated across the blogosphere. The debate began and is now up to 50 comments on his original post. Suppliers, agencies, brands, bloggers and data-heads: everyone seems to have chimed in with their views, gripes and come-backs. It was this frenzied discussion that led me to believe there was room for a conference that focuses squarely on social media monitoring, it’s goals, it’s potential, how it works, whether it works, it’s impact on organisations, it’s costs and how to gauge ROI.

Tuesday’s MSM09 will not be a typical social media conference. We won’t have a spew of incumbent-funded sales pitches. We aren’t beholden to any particular viewpoint. In our lead Panel discussion “What’s Wrong with Social Media Monitoring Services?”, Asi will be joined by Amelia Torode (of Compare the Meerkat renown) to debate the issues with the CEO’s of two leading monitoring services, Mark Rogers (Market Sentinel) and Nick Koudas (Sysomos).  Equally we won’t have any long, self-obsessed presentations. Our speakers get just 20 mins to make clear points and recommendations before the mic is wrestled off them.

While our focus is on monitoring and measurement, we also plan to cover important related topics, such as: the truth about data (sources, quality and accuracy); monitoring for reputation management; and “beyond brand”, i.e. how to implement monitoring as a key business process. One of the things I heard repeatedly during my consultation process was the need for experience-sharing and case studies, so we will also have a number of “live” case studies on the day and be providing attendees with a pack of case studies to read through (or watch) afterwards.

One of our “live” case studies will be provided by We Are Social’s very own Robin Grant. He will be spilling the beans about their work with Skype – explaining how they helped Skype to set-up and run their own real-time social media listening and responding programme, which tools and methodologies they used and how this helped the world’s leading VoIP provider contain a major crisis. Other “live” case studies include, Chris Thomas from The Conversation Group – who will present a social media-driven competitive analysis of the launch of the first Google Android phone – and Celia Pronto, Marketing Director of STA Travel, who will demonstrate how her team embraced social media monitoring and reaped the benefits.

Lastly, we will have a bunch of tools for attendees to try out. Visible Technologies, Brandwatch and White Vector (to name a few) will be showing off their wares in the break-out room. Hopefully, at the very least, we’ll save a few people the tiresome process of beauty pageants by getting these guys in one room. Hope you can make it!

Luke has kindly offered We Are Social readers a 10% discount on the MSM09 £195 ticket price, by entering the discount code MSM0910 when buying a ticket direct from the MSM09 site.

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Online monitoring & political behaviour

by Simon Collister in News Google+

I popped along to give the keynote speech at a symposium on measuring online political behaviour yesterday organised by Royal Holloway University‘s New Political Communications Unit.

In keeping with true keynote style I only managed to get along to the afternoon sessions at the event, but I still managed to catch a couple of interesting presentations: one from Rob Pearson at the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office examining the evaluation of its G20 London Summit web presence; the second from Simon Bergman from strategic communications outfit, Information Options.

I was presenting findings from some research I’ve been conducting into the use of online monitoring by the UK’s three main political parties: The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats which is an area without any in-depth study to date.

I’ve embedded my presentation above, but be warned – it’s text heavy (hey, it’s tricky articulating research findings using fancy images) – but here are some of my main findings:

  • All political parties report that they track online influencers qualitatively (e.g. Iain Dale, Guido, Political Betting, etc) but they also reported that they engage with these blogs to help set the national media-agenda (which nicely supports my earlier research). Equally, all online or influencer monitoring by parties is performed informally – that is, not using paid for or third party tracking tools.
  • One respondent told me that monitoring is about “a gut feeling about what’s going on” and also the UK political blogosphere is small and well organised. In my opinion, using influencers this way suggests that parties are perhaps only scratching the surface of influencer engagement. In my day job I would advise clients to establish a conversational position within influencer networks and build trusted relationships.  This is key to developing successful long-term engagement programmes – arguably the only real way to change behaviour.
  • Parties do engage directly to a limited extent with individuals online, particularly at a local level. However, The Labour Party appears to be closest to participating in real-time within online networks by engaging non-political networks, e.g. marketing/PR and media networks to leverage news or content.
  • Interestingly Labour also use quantitative tracking to identify popular or trending issues and content on the Labour Party website and to identify ‘content gaps’ on the Labour website. This insight is used to create new content to meet demand.
  • The Liberal Democrats use qualitative monitoring in a different way altogether: as an internal communications or customer service tool. By reading and staying on top of what Lib Dem campaigners and activists are saying, thinking and doing, the party can help out or resolve any issues that are emerging at a grassroots level. Really interesting use of monitoring.

My presentation also tried to force these findings into a critical framework based on the work Manuel Castells has completed in mapping and analysing the Network Society.

I started from the position that political parties monitor online networks to ensure they can engage effectively with the aim being to exert influence influence in the network.

One of the most important measures of influence – or more accurately – power in networks is defined by Castells as “networking-making power” = that is the ability to establish and control particular networks.

This ability is further categorised into two processes: programmers and switchers.

  1. Programmers have “the ability to constitute network(s), and to program/reprogram the network(s) in terms of goals assigned to the network”
  2. Switchers have “the ability to connect and ensure cooperation of different networks by sharing common goals and combining resources, while fending off competition from other networks by setting up strategic cooperation”

Based on my findings I hypothesise that the Tories are Programmers while Labour are Switchers:

  • Conservatives – early political online networks in the UK were (and still are to an extent) right-wing or anti-Government. This meant that the Conservatives were able to program the network and assign goals that were largely identical to its own. This would potentially explain why the Conservatives focus online engagement with influential nodes in the network rather and not primarily engaging in wider debate around issues.
  • Labour – Labour are Switchers as they are seeking to cooperate with strategic partner networks through shared goals. For example, identifying media networks interested in specific issues and leveraging them by combining resources.

Anyway. Those are my main findings. Feel free to challenge, share, agree with, etc. As always, they open up more questions for further examination than they answer. But that’s the beauty of research.

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