One of the main questions clients ask us is how they can use social media monitoring for their business. By now everybody recognises the importance of social media, but we need to be aware that there is much more we can do besides listening to and engaging with social media conversations. Used in conjunction with traditional research, buzz tracking can be a powerful tool for any company to generate ‘real-time’ insights about the things that matter to consumers, thereby optimising their communications and developing business strategies that connect with people.
- Early warning system: social media monitoring gives immediate feedback into how your brand is perceived, what is happening right now around your brand (eg: news, PR, a bad review) and how people are reacting to things you do. When Gap released its new logo, it was immediately hit with thousands of comments on Facebook and Twitter criticising the change and this resulted in Gap switching back to their original logo.
- Take action faster and smarter: detecting any negative perceptions early can help you to identify the root causes, address them and prevent it from spreading before they really impact your brand and sales. Gap reacted within days and it never took the new logo to stores, saving lots of money on implementation and more importantly, leaving the impression that it took its customers seriously by listening to them. The company posted on Facebook: “We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers.” And more than 1,700 people clicked that they “liked” that decision.
- It tells you where these conversations are taking place: besides helping you identify who your social media influencers are, knowing the platforms people use to talk about your brand can help you optimise media planning. It makes little sense to focus only on your Twitter and Facebook pages if the majority of the conversation around your product happen in a specific forum.
- Reveals important things about your brand that you may not be aware of: sometimes what people like about a brand and their reasons for buying it might be a bit surprising. For example, a large amount of online buzz around Listerine is about how it helps to fight nail fungus. Buzz can also unveil unexpected consumer concerns; Listerine is also disliked by many because it hurts. This valuable information can be used to inform brand and communications strategy, ensuring that you tick all the relevant boxes.
- Shows how people express their feelings about your brand:not everybody uses the same language when talking about brands; the words, tone and emotions they attach vary depending on many factors, from product category, consumer segment (age, gender, status) to cultural background and consumption occasions. Words such as ‘heavenly’, ‘extremely rich’ and ‘creamy’ are a common denominator in Haagen Dazs’ reviews, whereas ‘fun’, ‘great’ and ‘yummy’ dominate Ben & Jerry’s. Talk to your customers in the same way they talk about you and develop communications that resonate and engage.
- It is predictive of attitudes observed from tracking: as we have found out in our R&D, buzz correlates with tracking results: negative image perceptions for a leading gas supplier observed in buzz tracking were reflected in the tracker results just a couple of weeks later. Buzz matters and it is not just a bunch of geeks tweeting. I will be talking more about our R&D on buzz as a predictive tool in my next post, so watch this space!