Listen to any online conversation and you’ll get insights into the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of social media users. For example, by reading local Facebook groups, you might find out that a new restaurant brings little nibbles to tables as customers are reading through the menus. You might find out that people love the ‘first month free’ offer at the nearby gym. You may even find that people aren’t too happy with the level of communication from the local estate agent. But are these insights actually valuable?
Every business, in every industry, will have their own ideas on what data is valuable, and what data is irrelevant, depending on what it is they want from social listening. It’s important to remember that social listening doesn’t drive a business in any one direction, or towards any one goal. Instead, it forms the foundations for strategic, data-driven growth and development in a way that benefits the organisation.
On the one hand, this is great because it makes social listening flexible and open to a number of different applications. On the other hand, it introduces a challenge. It means that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to social listening; it means there’s no hard and fast rule to follow to ensure you’re gaining valuable insights.
The term ‘valuable’ is open to interpretation here. What’s valuable to one may not be valuable to another. This is why it is so important to work with social listening experts who can help you to identify which insights are valuable to you, and show you how to get them.
Social Listening Queries
One of the most vital aspects to take into account when you want to get valuable insights through social listening is to determine exactly what information is useful to your business at this particular time. Why can’t you just collect every bit of information that’s out there? Well, even though it’s possible to do so (big data technologies are becoming increasingly capable of this), what you’re left with is a bunch of data that may, or may not, be relevant to your needs. Instead, it’s much more effective to collect only that data that really means something to you, resulting in more efficient analysis.
Say you’re interested in what people are saying about the holidays. Naturally, you instruct your social listening tool to search for conversations containing the word ‘holidays’, right? Wrong. Twitter reports that, in the seven months between July and January, there are around 80 million distinct tweets containing the #holidays hashtag.
Generating valuable insights through social listening means generating valuable search queries; queries that pick up on the most relevant conversations taking place online.
Utilising social listening tools with Boolean functionality helps to deliver real valuable insights. By incorporating Boolean operators such as AND, NOT, and OR into search queries, it becomes easier to narrow down searches, or expand them in a niche direction to deliver best results.
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It’s not just the data that’s collected that needs to be relevant to your social listening needs… it’s who this data comes from, too. While certain search terms are more valuable than others, so are certain users.
For example, imagine you’re a car manufacturer wanting to gain insight into what features luxury car enthusiasts would want to see incorporated into the next generation of vehicles. You’re more likely to gain valuable insight by analysing discussions from these car enthusiasts themselves, rather than trawling through conversations from those who prefer budget bangers.
If we apply this to social platforms, it’s easy to see how some networks would deliver more valuable insights than others. While there are a number of aspects to take into account here, we’ll use the most basic as an example: gender. Research shows that visual-based social platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram are more female-dominated, while Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook have more male users. Selecting the right channel can be key to delivering real value, not just chatter.
Develop a Plan
The truth is that even seemingly valuable insights can fail to deliver real results if there’s no plan in place for how you’re going to act on the data you’ve collected. Through social listening, you may collect hugely valuable pools of data, and you may even analyse this data to generate actionable insights. But unless you’re prepared to move forward, even the most valuable of insights become essentially useless to the business.
Before getting started with social listening, it’s well worth taking some time to consider what resources are available to your business to implement change. Doing this means you’ll be better placed to narrow the gap between what you’re currently doing, and what you need to be doing in order to fully engage with your audience. An audit of your resources could reveal that you need to install new technologies for example in order to be able to act on your social listening insights or invest in additional staff training.
Understanding the Difference
There is a significant difference between customer insight, and valuable customer insight, and acknowledging and understanding this difference is key to getting the most from your social listening investment. Placing time, money, and effort into collating irrelevant data from irrelevant sources will largely fail to deliver results that you can really drive into motion.
Don’t waste your investment. Before jumping head first into social listening, spend some time thinking about what value means to you, so that you are better placed to identify the most efficient and effective ways to gather the data that matters most.
If you want to grow your business through social listening, talk to our team today!
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